Coping With Fear in a Scary World.

How can we manage our anxiety about world events?

It is easy to get anxious when we hear upsetting reports on the news especially when it is difficult to fathom out the reasoning behind the awful headlines reported. I found it hard to process the news last night of children being separated from their families at the U.S. border. What astounds me and upsets me the most is that those in power don’t always see, or want to see, what is directly in front of them. Sticking to the rules seems more important that basic humanity. How can it ever be right to know a child is distraught by being kept from its parents and do nothing? How can it ever be right to use this as a lesson to deter any already distressed or displaced person contemplating entering a country illegally? Whatever our political leanings how can we ever forget to show love and compassion?

As I write this, thankfully, it sounds as though there has been a u – turn in the policy and that this rule will now be lifted, although it will take a while to create order and reunite families.

Is there a good way to manage anxiety about world events if you’re the sort of person to take the weight of the world on your shoulders? If you feel like the world is falling apart, you’re not alone. Although empathy is more acutely developed in highly sensitive people, you don’t have to be ultra sensitive to feel anxious. It’s pretty easy to feel overwhelmed these days; everywhere we turn, it seems we see endless violence and natural disasters. Managing the anxiety caused by world events takes strength and helpful tactics.

Tragedy and violence affects a lot of us deeply. While most feel some sense of empathy, if we are highly sensitive we may respond to the news by subconsciously absorbing the emotions of the world into our bodies. That makes it more difficult to manage anxiety about world events. If we’re not careful, carrying the weight of the world can result in physical and mental illnesses, including anxiety symptoms.

Today we’re inundated with negative world events that create anxiety and it’s tough to manage. And it’s no secret that social media can magnify anxiety. Our constant connectedness makes it easy to fall prey to the idea that the world is more dangerous than ever. It’s true there are some horrific events happening, but we’re also more aware of them. Twenty years ago, there were events that simply didn’t reach our radar.

Every time we see, hear, or experience an event that induces fear, we condition our minds and bodies to view the world as dangerous. And the more worry you pile on, the worse anxiety becomes.

Managing anxiety about world events.

1. Limit your intake of media.

While it’s important to be informed and engaged in what’s going on in world events, you can manage anxiety if you don’t let the media consume your day. It is a good idea to turn off your social media notifications from time to time. Pay attention to what you listen to and read and notice how you feel – if you begin to feel tense and sad when listening to the news, turn it off.

2. Be mindful of what you say and how you say it.

It is easy to rant about a subject close to your heart – when you read or hear something that upsets you or you feel is unjust you may feel the need to vent your feelings, but sometimes this can evoke more anxiety. Think about what is important to you in a positive way and perhaps share that instead. In the long run this is more empowering.

3. Seek out heartwarming stories.

It’s amazing how there can be sudden turns in events just when it was thought a situation was dire. And sometimes on a particularly bad day someone can show an incredible act of kindness out of the blue and reaffirm the sheer goodness in the world that is often hidden. This is the time to share good news and also encourages you to look closer to home for what is important.

4. Look after yourself.

Take a short break from social media and use that time to meditate, exercise, or take a walk in nature. Self-care is not selfish. It is the very thing we need to stay mentally and physically healthy, which in turn helps us manage anxiety about world events.

5. Do something positive.

Tangible actions can be big or small, but doing something to move our world toward greater health is important. And serving others also helps alleviate anxiety. Imagine if everyone were to make a small donation to a relief organisation or join a peaceful group of like-minded people, the effects would make a huge difference.

‘There is a golden thread, that runs through every religion in the world. There is a golden thread that runs through the lives and the teachings of the prophets, seers, sages, and saviours in the world’s history, through the lives of all men and women of truly great and lasting power.’ This was written by the author Ralph Waldo Trine in his book ‘In Tune With the Infinite’ in 1897. It is interesting that Trine opens the book with a message for us – one that would be every bit as fitting today as it was in then. He notes that (then) we were born into a strange time – a time that tries men’s souls. Also, he states that bewilderment and fear grips many and that change and uncertainty stalk through the land – all lands. Sounds familiar doesn’t it?

Deep down we know there must be a better way. And we are not alone. Between us, we have the enormous potential to bring about change, both in businesses, our own lives, and all around the world and to hold a peaceful but determined thought in our minds to bring about change; change for a better and an enlightened world. We don’t need to lay down barriers and rules, for these become obsolete when we are completely united for the common good.

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Finding Courage When You Need It

So many times we are encouraged to be fearless and bold.

 

Courage is the foundation of freedom.

Thucydides (460BC-395BC) wrote: ‘The secret to happiness is freedom…And the secret to freedom is courage.’

Today for various reasons I have been thinking about courage. Letting go, not blaming others, and taking responsibility for your own life takes courage, but until you find that courage you will find it difficult to enter the calm and happy place in your heart where you can just ‘be’.

So many times we are encouraged to be fearless and bold. To follow our desired path. Many life coaches and authors focus on the need to be fearless and authentic and that’s wonderful advice. We all appreciate that friendly push to find the strength to be authentic; be fearless and inspired. But what if the fear soon returns? Then we hear our inner critic return again which fills us with the old doubts. The thing to remember here is that no one is truly fearless, but the people we admire – the ones who seem brave and do amazing courageous things, are the ones who have learned to move through their fear. And so bravery is in feeling fearful but doing what you want or need to anyway.

We all have ‘free space’ in our minds, a place which we can choose to go into and be calm, but it takes a while to train ourselves to use that space and not just resort to old familiar feelings when we are stressed or worried. In that calm space we can make our own conscious decisions without reacting to negative situations coming from outside. We can be in charge. This involves not making snap decisions and assumptions i.e. ‘that person was very rude to me in the queue, there’s no excuse: he’s not nice.’ The person may be nice normally but may have had a bad day or bad news. When you are in the free space, you cut people some slack, or at least do not let their behaviour get to you.

For a long period of our lives we may have handed over the responsibility of our lives to others; we may have created a certain belief about ourselves and the world in a way which was not benefiting us. Perhaps we didn’t believe we were free; free to live in love, abundance, and good health. Because of this, it takes courage to re-introduce yourself to the world and to let go of all the old energy blocks and take back the power for yourself. It can be overwhelming to adjust and to take back the power that you once gave away. That is why we say –‘it takes courage to be, it takes courage to do, and it takes courage to have’.

Courage ‘to do’ is relatively easy to understand; we may be afraid to contemplate bungee jumping, or public speaking for example; these are things we can be frightened about but we can picture doing them without having to change our lifestyle. However, if we want to change and be different do we really need courage then? The answer is yes, because unless you are really ‘being it’ you cannot live it. A lot of people dream about having or doing different things but they look from the outside; often we are looking at a façade rather than looking at what is real. It can take a long time to decide to change – to cast away all the old thoughts and ideas we have clung on to for so long.

Who are you really? What is your essence and your purpose? Do you dare to say you are unique? Not only is your fingerprint different from any other, so are you! You are extraordinary. There is only one you. Remember also, that trying to be someone else or putting on a different persona will not help you long term.

So do you really have the courage to be yourself? Only then will you be able to feel really free – be free to decide what you want to do, to be or to have. This sounds simple, but is it?

Admit Your Scared

It’s important to admit it to yourself when you are stuck in fear. Too often though, this process allows you to let the fears become worse. By admitting you’re fearful you will be asking yourself what being scared means to you and you will start filling in the blanks with the answers that don’t help, such as: ‘I’m scared I can’t handle this.’ Whatever your story is – it is just that – a story. It can be changed. Aim to stop adding to your negative storyline and get rid of any over dramatic feelings. Remember that being fearful just means you’re human.

Once you have admitted you are fearful it doesn’t mean necessarily that you just need to move past the fear without a backward glance. It may be nature’s way of making you check something out. Take time to get your thoughts clear. If the fear is groundless then you can tell yourself all is well. If you have a genuine worry then find the time and strength to run your worries past the right person that can help you. (That takes courage too, I know, but once you put into words whatever is bothering you, you are on the road to healing).

Recognise you aren’t alone.

You are in great company. Everyone, even your greatest role models have had to cope with fear at one time or another. So don’t put yourself down. Recognise you are part of a tribe of people who have, through time, taken a risk and moved beyond perceived safety to something more rewarding. To join the tribe of the brave, don’t focus on what you feel, focus on what you can do about your situation. Once you have ruled out any danger you can take fear as a good sign, a marker that you are alive and engaged. You are completely present in the moment. You are out of your comfort zone but in a funny way, you can actually take comfort from that!

Keep the free space in your heart.

The word courage is related to the French word ‘coeur’ which means heart. When you experience those anxiety filled moments remember to connect with your heart – your core. This is the place where all your emotions flow from – love, warmth and wisdom, and where you get to the heart of the matter.

                        ‘Confront the dark parts of yourself, and work to banish them with illumination and forgiveness. Your willingness to wrestle with your demons will cause your angels to sing.’       August Wilson 

Forgiveness takes courage.

I’d like to think a little bit about forgiveness too and how showing forgiveness is the pathway to freedom. Showing forgiveness is not easy for any of us to contemplate and real forgiveness takes a lot of courage. But again, when you are coming from that free space in your heart you find a new way of moving forward. Think about a situation in your life – perhaps when you have felt you didn’t deserve the upset that came your way – then think about letting go of old hurts and resentments – the churning of old turmoils and the bubbling feeling of being hard done by that lies not far from the surface – let them go – let them really go. Wish the situations you encountered love. Show forgiveness and tell yourself you have no further need for resentful feelings in your life and feel yourself grow.

I urge you to think about your life, to go through the issues that need your forgiveness. Take the time to ask yourself if you are really ready to be the person you want to BE, to be ready to DO what you want to do and are really ready to HAVE what you want to have. It takes courage to be ready to receive. But if you are prepared go deeper with your thinking you will understand that with courage you will have the necessary requirements to BE.

So we are all individuals, each with our own way of accepting and facing our fears. Most of us are by no means always masters of control but if we think about going into our clear space – let go of our fears and aim to be courageous and bold, we will feel much more alive and vibrant and our new found inner strength will shine through.

Are you willing to allow yourself to be more courageous? You may just find you are more bold and courageous than you knew. In fact, I think you already are.

‘Though an ordinary woman,
Nothing about me is plain;
Like a single fingerprint traced in dust,
No other is the same.’
© Lyn Halvorsen

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