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My Girlfriend Screamed and Ran and I Felt Nothing

September 22, 2019

My girlfriend screamed.

She whipped around and started sprinting the opposite direction from where we were walking.

I stopped. A smile started to form on my face.

I didn't know what she was running from, but I was certain it was no big deal. We were walking on a familiar trail in the woods next to where we lived in Southern California.

I wasn't worried.

As I turned to watch her run, I was surprised that she wasn't slowing down. She just kept running.

I called out to her, "What is it?!"

"SNAKE!!!"

I thought to myself, "Ok, this all makes sense now."

With a strange excitement, I turned back to the direction we were walking in. There it was...

A rattlesnake.

And it was about 3 feet from where I was standing.

It's a good thing my girlfriend screamed, I wasn't really paying attention as I was walking. I probably would've stepped right on it.

I stood there examining it. A very strange realization popped into my head. A spooky realization:

I wasn't feeling fear.

This was shocking to me. I had been making my living for years helping people get over fear. But I always said that fear was natural, that we are wired to experience certain fears.

Like if you're being chased by a bear, or if you see a shark while in the ocean.

Or if your standing 3 feet from a rattlesnake!

But there I was, staring at something that could kill me.

And I felt no fear.

That's what's so tricky about our emotions. We believe they happen because of what is going on outside of us. We think fear is happening because...

  • We're public speaking in front of an audience.
  • We're asking a boss for a raise.
  • We're thinking about a bad conversation we had with someone.

But I was in a terrible circumstance, a deadly snake was at my feet. If fear is caused by what is going on outside of us, I should've had the same screaming reaction as my girlfriend.

What happenend? Did my brain misfire? Am I an emotionless pyschopath?

Or is it possible that our emotions are more random than we think?

Maybe fear and all our other emotions are coming and going on their own schedules, and we misattribute their causes to what is going on outside of us.

Most of the time when I see a snake, I feel fear. That time I didn't.

Maybe when you experience the thing you fear, you also will feel nothing. I wonder.

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