Looking back at the achievements of the human race, it’s hard to deny that we’re pretty amazing. We’ve survived terrible ordeals, eradicated deathly diseases, flown into space, etc, etc. There are so many great things we’ve done; yet, we cannot seem to shed one of the most prominent problems of the current age: fear.
People might argue that experiencing fear could be a life-saver and, sometimes, it certainly is. For instance, when you’re trying to run away from a hungry lion. This fear, however, comes from a direct threat, as opposed to our everyday fears of uncertainty, of what the future might bring, of the political situation, of our health failing and so much more.
Unless you are a deeply spiritual person who firmly believes that whatever happens, happens for a reason and there’s no point fretting over anything, you are a victim of everyday fear. In fact, we are so used to it, that we don’t even think about how dangerous experiencing fear is for our mind and body.
Many of these fears stem from our desire to fit into something, be it a new pair of pants or a group of individuals, or meet our parents’ expectations.
Guided by these fears, we create elaborate scenarios in our heads, all beginning with “what if?” We even have a name for it: planning for the future. What we are often not aware of is that planning is a calm activity, involving the calculation of what can be calculated, the categorization of what can be categorized, etc. Anything else is left to further develop without your influence.
Fear should not be confused with planning. Unlike planning, fear causes a rapid heartbeat and sweaty palms. Unlike planning, fear causes us to have conversations in our heads with other people. In these conversations we imagine other peoples’ responses to our potential words and actions.
The reason we go through all this is lack of trust in our ability to handle situations when they arise. We follow this suit without realizing that we have no means to precisely project future situations. If we understood this, we would abandon our fears forever!
I’d like to ask you to do this quick exercise:
- Picture your most usual fear (worry about your kids or your job, or whatever else you’re concerned about on a regular basis).
- Make a list of physical and emotional symptoms of this fear: irritability, apathy, etc.
- Explain to yourself that worrying makes you less effective in trying to protect your kids, secure your job or improve your relationship with others.
- Cross every symptom that had gone away after this exercise off of the list.
- Repeat the exercise until all the symptoms are crossed off.
Go ahead, give this a try! It’s a fairly challenging task, so be patient with yourself and remember to praise and congratulate yourself for any achievement, no matter big or small. If you feel you’re losing sight of things, re-read this article and continue your efforts. Don’t be afraid, don’t expect any specific result – concentrate on the process and you’ll get to where you want to be eventually.