Do you have fears that keep you paralyzed with stress and anxiety? There are certainly enough things in modern life for us to be genuinely afraid of, and a little fear is not always a bad thing. It keeps us from going down dark alleys at night, or into grizzly bear dens.
What is it about being human that causes us to create even more to be afraid of than is actually there? What takes us from being cautious and alert to danger, to frozen like a deer in the headlights over some disaster that may never happen? I wish I knew.
While the world may still be a dangerous place sometimes, our imagined fears can cause us more stress than any true dangers. The adrenaline triggered by real dangers tells us to grab the kids and head for the tornado shelter, find a life jacket, or slam on the brakes.
When we get an adrenaline rush from stress and imagined dangers, we have nowhere to run to, no defensive action we can take. But you can deal with the stress of imaginary dangers by heading it off before it starts.
Acknowledge your brain’s infinite ability to be wrong. Our brains seem to be hardwired to create pictures or patterns where nothing really exists. It is why we see faces in clouds, or why as children we may have stared half the night at some scary shadow that turned out to be nothing in the morning.
On the up side, this ability has lead to everything from fairy tales to science fiction. On the down side, it makes us worry that every headache could be a brain tumor; every economic setback is one step away from living on the street.
By remembering that there really were no monsters in the closet, we can train ourselves to see the illusions we create for what they really are, and we can relax. No need to deal with stress from something that isn’t there.
Use your fears to spur you into action. If you just can’t seem to turn away from some of your worries, turn them into an action plan. If you are worried you’ll outlive your money, find a way to save more. If you are tend to worry about every new health crisis that comes up in the news, take preventative steps to eat right, exercise, and live a healthy lifestyle.
Just as importantly, know that you take these steps not out of fear, but because you are strong and proactive. Applaud yourself for planning ahead. You can’t protect yourself or your family from everything, but you can give yourself credit for doing what you can.
Focus on the good things in your life, and be grateful. None of us knows what tomorrow holds. Uncertainty is a basic part of existence. But if you remember every day to relish each moment you have, rather than waste it being stressed about the future, you will be stronger and more ready to face whatever the future really does hold. Monsters and all.