Saturday, September 24, 2011

Sensitive Geek MAN: When the Mind wins the Brain Game

Today I took a Blacksmithing class. Specifically, I took a class that taught how to make a small, propane-powered forge. As part of this process, we had to line the inside of our canister with a heat-resistant baffling that is very like fiberglass. If you have never worked with fiberglass, then you haven't experienced the itchiness that comes if you aren't careful how you handle it. You see, fiberglass-like materials have tiny shards inside them that get in your skin and make you itch. It is not pleasant.

However, as long as you are not shredding fiberglass, or burning it, or some other crazy thing that sort of aerosolizes it, you aren't really in any major danger if you are just mildly careful. I wore long sleeves, I wore safety goggles. Everything should have been fine.

However, for an hour or so after finishing working with the fiberglass, I had problems breathing. Well, not really problems, more like just a odd sensitivity.

Don't worry, I didn't inhale fiberglass. You see, these symptoms were psychosomatic. I didn't inhale fiberglass. I just worried that I might have and my brain produced a few symptoms to help my worry along.

This is not the first time this has happened to me. In fact, pretty much every time I do anything with volatile or potentially poisonous materials, I have some sort of mild reaction. I'm not kidding. If I have to use bleach to clean anything, I convince myself that I've managed to swallow some, and then my throat feels all weird.

However, all that is not even the part I think is interesting. The interesting part is that I know I'm doing it. I mean that, even while my brain is slightly worried that I may have swallowed bleach, my mind is saying "You didn't. You're fine. You do this every time. Calm down."

And yet I still have a tickle in my throat.

Now it has gotten better. The weirdness doesn't last as long as it used to. Some things that used to trigger it don't anymore. Also, I have never (at least to the best of my memory) let my worries about this sort of thing keep me from doing or trying anything. Because I know it is in my head. Sometimes I can just remind myself it isn't real. Sometimes I pray a little. Either way, things get better.

So I am fascinated by the power of the brain. Based on something I am worrying about, it can make me feel symptoms that I have no reason to be having.
However, I am more impressed with the power of the mind. Even though I am worried, I can tell myself that it isn't real and still make myself behave normally.

Now, I don't want you to think I obsess over all this. I don't. These 'worries' I have when dealing with chemicals and such are no real hindrance. I usually just ignore them and go about my day, because I know a few things.
First, the Lord is watching over me.
Second, all these silly little worries are in my brain.
Third, my mind, thanks to how we were created, has power over my brain. I've been given a conscious mind by my creator, and it has been empowered by my savior to help change me.

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