Do you ever find yourself over-whelmed and paralyzed by an unnamable fear pumping through your veins at 1000mph? A fear that has no root in something that has actually happened, but rather a fear that has taken root and been fed by your subconscious mind?
I often find myself in this world of worst-case-scenarios. It’s not like it’s something I relish. It doesn’t come from a place of, “Hmmm, what new and terrifying situations can I imagine to haunt me today?”. No. It is something that has snuck up on me while I was focussed on becoming an adult. It’s true what they say about children being fearless. They are. To the point of endangerment, especially during our teenage years. At that age we believe ourselves to be super-natural, invincible and infallible.
This is before we’ve experienced any real, deep, heart-searing loss. As we get older we feel some things more deeply because we realize that nothing lasts forever. That we will have our hearts broken. That we will have to say goodbye to our beloved pets. And that the people we hold nearest and dearest may have to move on and say goodbye to this life we share. It’s horrifying.
Fear is what paralyses us. It is fear that causes our hearts to race and our stomachs to churn when our phones ring at 2am. It’s fear that finds us in our mind’s eye, enacting scenes from our worst nightmares. It’s fear that robs us, and makes us sick.
Fear itself is not the culprit though. It’s love.
We only fear because we love something or someone so deeply, that we cannot imagine a reality where they are not present. Instead of basking in the miracle of having something that we love so much, we allow fear of losing this light, to hold us hostage. And play tricks on our minds. We allow unanswered calls to start a rollercoaster rides of what-if’s and why’s. And it’s never good. We don’t imagine that a loved one may just be having a phone-free day. Or treating themselves to a half hour massage. We imagine the worst. A car crash, an illness, a robbery or worse.
I think at the crux of this we are faced with two problems.
One – being that we live in an always-on, instantly accessible, digital era, where we believe that we should always be reachable and so in turn, that we should also always be able to reach those who we love. When was the last time you turned your phone off and went “offline”? Not even for a whole weekend. Just at bedtime? Believe me, I’ve tried. I have even gotten as far as swiping to switch off. Only moments later to be gripped by a feeling of panic that tonight will be the night that someone needs me. That if my phone is off, I will be responsible for the tragedy that ensues. So I switch my phone back on and have another night of sleep punctuated by the light of a flashing screen notifying me of messages filled with memes and messages from loved ones afar, on another time zone. Not the impending disaster I fear.
THIS IS NOT NORMAL.
I know that. I know there was a time where we weren’t always accessible. That families went for months in-between delivery from a postal service carrying word from loved ones overseas. That if you arrived at a meeting and someone wasn’t there, you just assumed they’d got caught up in traffic. And life went on. This generation was not paralyzed by imagined scenarios at every turn. They just got on with it and lived life in the present. We have forgotten how to BE PRESENT. In this day an age, we allow our fears to be compounded by the screens that consume us. We lament the past and constantly re-live our tragedies. And we fear the future. The future social media spews out at us on the daily with stories of animal abuse, human-trafficking and heinous crimes.
This brings us to problem number two.
Crime. So I am not trying to say that this is something you should not fear. It is real. It is tragic. And sometimes it seems completely out of control. This cycle is perpetuated by a mother-less generation who is driven to desperation by the hunger that consumes them. Desperate people fear very little. They have nothing to lose. So this is something real that drives our fear. Our fear that we will lose those we love. The fear that we are not in control. Fear of fear.
So what can we do to escape this cycle of driving ourselves demented with worry? It’s not fear that is the real villain in this situation. It is our reaction to it. And though we may not be able to control what we fear – we can learn to control our reactions to it.
We can be present and live in the present. Live in gratitude of every day. We can acknowledged that we will face loss. But we should not allow a “one day we have no control over”, to steal the joy from our todays that are filled with so much beauty. We can take ourselves offline. We can re-normalise not being “always-on” and ever-accessible. We can take back our time and spend it on things that matter – without broadcasting it via social media for validation. We can limit the negativity that we are bombarded with every day by unfollowing those who share articles for shock value. By distancing ourselves from those who perpetuate hate and keeping our circle safe. We can take all possible measures to ensure the safety of our loved ones and our possessions. And once this is done? We need to switch off the fear-monger in our minds. Your mind is a garden – what you nurture will thrive.
Let’s be mindful. Let’s be grateful. And let us be at peace by being present. Today & every day.