Science continually astonishes me, especially when it confirms hunches that I have had (and you might as well) concerning human behavior. The awesome thing about our human behavior and even our genetics is that there is enormous room for change. When I read about the way in which we may genetically inherit fear and trauma from our ancestry, it set off many light bulbs inside of me.
I am a product of massively traumatized parents… and maybe you are, too? And I’ve had a sense that some fears I’ve carted around have been irrational. Have you? Turns out these odd fears may be genetically switched on. And… can be switched off! There is one way that has worked, and continues to work for me… and I am betting it will help you, too!
In a brief piece in Science News the results of experiments on inherited fear were reported, and much to my surprise, substantiated:
Mouse parents learned to associate the scent of orange blossoms with a shock. Their children and their grandchildren startled in response to the scent — a sign of fear — even though they had never smelled it before. Offspring also had more neurons that detect the orange blossom scent than mice whose parents weren’t exposed to the scent.
Sperm cells alone can deliver this fear message, study authors Brian Dias and Kerry Ressler of Emory University found. DNA in the sperm cells was imprinted with this fearful association: A gene that codes for the molecule that detects the orange blossom odor carried a chemical stamp that may have changed its behavior. (via)
It would be a very big stretch to say that all irrational fears (not based on your experience or anything that makes sense to you) stem from your genes, but the fact that some of these “trauma cues” can be inherited genetically was personally illuminating.
When something is “genetic” though, how do you change it?
One way that is increasingly proven to work:
In the study of epigenetics, doctors are proving that our lifestyle (food, environment, people in our lives) affect our genetic expression. Even though you may have these “fear triggers” (and other things you’d rather avoid) in your genetic code… but you may never experience them based on your lifestyle choices!
The intracellular environment is a
function of the genetic makeup of the cell and the extracellular
environment like hormones released by endocrine organs,
cytokines from the immune system, neurotransmitters from
neurons, nutrients derived from food. Signals from the extracellular
environment, including hormones and neurotransmitters, can all
serve to regulate gene expression. The extracellular environment
is, of course, also inﬂuenced by the environment of the individual.
Neurotransmitter and hormonal activity is profoundly inﬂuenced,
for example, by social interactions, which lead to effects on gene
activity, or expression. At no point in life is the operation of the
genome independent of the context in which it functions”
So, you are not doomed by your genes to be or do or experience anything. Indeed, this research is extremely empowering because it gives us tremendous latitude to change our personal health and wellness destiny on a cellular level.
If you subscribe to the work-like-crazy, sleep little, run-yourself-ragged work ethic prized by may as “key to success” you can be harming yourself on many levels. In fact, you could be driving yourself into fear and into the less desirable parts of your personal genetics. I’ve talked about the studies that show what less that 6 hours of sleep for a prolonged time can do to your immune system and your genetics– exacerbating obesity and a panoply of other ill effects including a predisposition to many major illnesses.
Lifestyle can help you overcome certain fears as well as other genetic tendencies. Sleep, meditation, exercise, spiritual practice, surrounding yourself with love, taking time for creativity, eating foods that energize your body, creating an environment that supports your well-being (aka, feng shui!) and even spending time doing nothing at all can elevate your life from it’s core.
Need ideas? This blog has thousands of lifestyle switches to kick off your personal exploration. Or… if you aren’t into reading… just take a break and do something you never allow yourself the time to do!
As a wildly-work-fixated man who was unraveling at the seams emotionally and physically asked me, ” But, how can you guarantee that I won’t succeed less if I work less?”
I suppose its how you define success. Sickness, misery, panic and premature aging are not successful traits to me. I am betting you agree!
My suggestion is to choose a balanced lifestyle as a necessity, not a luxury afforded to those who live lives of leisure. It doesn’t cost money to go to bed earlier, to walk for 15 minutes or to say no to things that make you feel bed. Take some time for yourself this week to feel great…and let that be the start of your new habit of fearless living! xoxo Dana
And, if you want to dive in to your own personalized feng shui in a modern, practical way, say hello to Feng Shui 101. Its the guide I made for you to create your own personalized feng shui at home, in the office, wherever you may be… in 8 weeks. It’s not filled with strict rules or what you “must” do. Its filled with information, questions, exercises and even videos and classes to help you confidently create amazing spaces with killer feng shui and live with more flow.
Learn more about the 8-week feng shui adventure & grab your copy to get started right HERE… And, as always, please let me know what happens!