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Phantom Limb? No, Phantom Hair

Bald woman

I had a really funny experience this morning.

On my way to work, I donned my vespa helmet, and as I set off on my journey I reached up to adjust the position of the helmet.

I immediately heard a voice in my head, “damn, my hair will be messed up!!!”

Now, for those of you who have seen me any time in the last 30 years, you would know that I am of the bald inclination. And so I laughed out loudly and immediately thought of phantom limbs.

For those unfamiliar with the concept, imagine a person who, through accident or surgery, lost a limb. This person can have moments when they would still feel the limb, even if now missing. They would, for example, have an itch on the index finger, even though the finger is long gone.

The phenomenon happens because the way the neurons fire in the brain, activating part of the brain that were previously responsible for sensations of that missing limb. These neurons can be activated even after amputation, therefore creating the unjustified sensations that the limb (or my hair?) are still there.

This is also a good analogy for how we sometimes get triggered by current, mild events and react as if our life was in danger. In this situations, your partner saying ‘no’ to a request for a hug may trigger feelings of shame or anger, as if you were still being dismissed, neglected or abandoned by your mother or father.

Remember, you can always listen to what you brain is telling you, at least to assess whether it needs your attention. BUT, and this is a big BUT, you don’t always have to believe what you hear.

Do your fact check and assess the situation at hand. Read further about this process on my blog pertaining to whether emotions are real here.

By working on deciphering your internal narratives and identifying their origins, you can liberate yourself from self-imposed constraints. This forms the psychological foundation of the personal growth retreat framework I've developed.


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