Sunday, April 10, 2016

Butterflies and Standing Hair

By Matthew Schafer
Copyright 2016, All Rights Reserved

Have you ever been really nervous and you felt a pain in your stomach or the feeling often described as “butterflies?”  We’ve all felt that but do you know exactly why you feel that?  The reason you feel this pain or sensation in your stomach is because your body is getting ready to poop.

That’s right, butterflies in your stomach is your body gearing up to evacuate your bowels.  Now the question becomes why.  Also, what is with the feeling of the hair standing up on the back of your neck when you feel that something isn’t right?

The answer is that your subconscious mind is continually picking up everything in your environment but your conscious mind can only process a very small amount of things at any given time.  So while your subconscious mind takes in everything it filters what it gives to your conscious mind and what you are consciously aware of but behind the scenes your subconscious is processing everything in your environment.

When you subconscious mind detects a threat it singles your body to make the hair on the back of your neck start to stand up and the stomach start to tighten and feel queasy in order to gear up for a fight or flight situation. 

We, after all, are just big primates; big dumb animals that are simply a little more evolved than other species but we still have all the programing we’ve developed during our evolution.  Our mind knows that if we sustain a penetrating blow to the body a major concern is puncturing our bowels and getting an infection that will likely be fatal.  So, as part of our fight or flight response our brain says to us, “Hey, we might just be in a life or death situation…it would be a good idea if we pooped first to empty our bowels.”  This is also why some people poop or pee their pants if they get startled or scared.

A common response to fight or fight in the animal world is to puff yourself up and make yourself look really big.  Cats are great examples of this as they extend their legs, arch their backs, and puff up their fur.  At one point in time we had fur too and we still have the “puff up” response written into our subconscious to a certain degree.  The hair standing up on the back of your neck is essentially your body trying to puff up its fur to make you seem larger by contracting the muscles at the base of your hair follicles.

Since your subconscious mind is aware of so many more things then your conscious mind ever could be it is very important that you pay attention if you ever feel the hair on the back of your neck stand up or get the butterflies in your stomach, aka the “gut feeling,” because it is not your body being weird, rather it is your subconscious mind detecting a threat and getting you into fight or flight mode.