Have you ever heard the saying: “The only thing we have to fear, is fear itself?” That’s a quote from Franklin D Roosevelt’s first inaugural address as President of the United States of America in 1933.
There’s still a lot of truth to this statement. Undue focus on fear, and sensationalist fear-mongering by politicians and the media can be very damaging to your psyche. It can make you feel like the world is unfair, that opportunities are limited, and possibly even that doom is impending.
And that’s not great for your abundance.
Being too anxious and too hesitant can mean that some great opportunities pass you by because you’re too afraid to go after them. And when you’re locked into looking out for danger it’s hard to see the many wonders, possibilities and openings for joy that exist around you. And when that happens, not only do you choke off your abundance; life just isn’t as much fun.
But is all fear bad?
Isn’t fear a natural mechanism that’s been wired into our evolutionary programming for a reason? Isn’t fear sometimes (and I stress the word SOMETIMES) highlighting a real and present danger? Isn’t it true that sometimes our fear is telling us something important?
If you totally deny the function and the occasional validity of fear, aren’t you kind of throwing the baby out with the bathwater?
How can you make fear your friend?
First, learn to distinguish between trumped up fears (pardon the pun, I couldn’t help myself!) and real, present danger.
Often that means taking a step back. Not letting yourself get sucked into the game of allowing other people to compete for your attention by making you afraid.
That’s often what they’re doing. Your fear, equals their ratings. And their ratings equal more advertising dollars. Or more power, more persuasion and more dominance of the conversation.
That game is all driven by, and incentivised by, the number of eyeballs they get. And the fact is, using fear is great way to get more eyeballs. This is because of our inherent evolutionary bias towards being alert to danger. So fear gets used a lot as a way of commanding attention, because it’s an evolutionary hack.
The easiest way to short-circuit that game, is to take your attention away from it. So, if it’s important to you to stay informed, then give your attention in a very limited way and on your own terms.
Like, catching up on the news only once a week or once a month, so it can’t infect the state of your mindset on a daily basis. And choosing news sources that you know are not prone to hype, that are not about the constant back and forth of opinions and commentary, but that focus more on reporting actual facts and backing those facts up with verifiable sources. Then make up your own mind.
Another way to short-circuit the fear-mongering loop is to ask a simple question: “What does this person / show / group have to gain from my fear?” Is it going to distract me from something else? Is it going to prevent me from taking positive action? And is that going to benefit them in some way?
Finally, when you discern that there is a REAL danger that you should NOT ignore… take steps to prevent it.
When it comes to fears about things that could affect your life in a tangible way… and are therefore are real dangers, even if they are not immediately likely… one of the best ways to make fear your friend is to do something about it.
Usually there is SOMETHING you can do to reduce the risk of that danger in your life, through preventative actions.
This is why I’m not against prepping for disasters. I don’t want to obsess about it, but I do like to be reasonably prepared. Not because I love thinking about disaster scenarios… but simply because I want to be able to STOP thinking about them.
If I have reasonably prepared myself to be safe, then I can sleep better at night.
Floods happen. Fires happen. Earthquakes happen. This is fact. The probability of these events may be low, but their effects can be devastating.
Gun accidents happen. Rapes happen. Domestic violence happens.
These are not baseless fears. And they may not always be 100 percent preventable. But there are often some actions we can take, and ways in which we can reduce the risks. Or at least have an action plan in place about how we’ll deal with it if it does happen.
So, for example, I have a supply of clean water in my garage. And I have portable filtration devices to make more clean water (and lots of it) from any source: a river, a puddle, even from water out of a toilet cistern. Because I would not survive for more than 3 days without water. And sh*t happens. Sh*t beyond my control.
I have some (not tons, but some) canned or dried non-perishable foods. Because I would not survive more than 3 weeks without food.
In my business, I assess risks all the time. I can’t mitigate all of my business risks, but I can do at least something about most of them. I can usually reduce my risk by taking preventative steps. And I do. I also take the time to think through as many risks as possible. Yep, I actively imagine what sh*t could go wrong. Just so I can take steps to prevent it.
I do these things because preventative action means my fears become more manageable. They don’t derail me. They don’t intrude on my thoughts as often, because I know that I’ve already taken steps. They don’t balloon out of proportion and cause my stress hormones to spike. They don’t hijack my immune system, or cause my nervous system to be on constant hyper-vigilant alert.
All of that means that I’m calmer and more open and aware of positive opportunities. And that, I believe, is of huge benefit to my ability to create more abundance in my life.
Managing my fears and taking steps to reduce risk, is one of the ways I keep myself in a good frame of mind. It’s how I stay feeling positive, empowered and willing to be brave more often than not.
I do feel fear. I’m actually quite prone to anxiety. And I still do scary stuff and take entrepreneurial risks anyway. But I do not do it by ignoring my fear. I don’t throw my fear baby out with the bathwater!
I try to discern and acknowledge which types of fears are valid, and not just hyped up anxiety. I ask myself, what are the things that I CAN’T control and what are the things that I CAN control? And I take steps to reduce the risk of devastating outcomes by being prepared.
This is why I feel the Serenity Prayer used in 12-Step programs is so powerful. It says:
“God grant me the Serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the Courage to change the things I can, and the Wisdom to know the difference.”
Those are some wise words!
As always, let me know in the comments if this post has helped you in any way…
To YOUR Abundance,
Julie Ann Cairns