This is not a political post. This post is about you, and only you. This post is about your emotions, your feelings, your thoughts and your actions. Right now you might be terrified when you turn on the news and see nothing good in the world. You are here because you are trying to figure out how you can survive a Trump presidency. You are going to get through this time period, but it is up to you on how you get through it.
You can continue to live in fear every day or you can figure out how to improve yourself, let go of fear, and improve the world at the same time. It is a choice that you can make once you see it as a choice.
What is fear? Merriam-Webster defines fear as a noun meaning:
1 a : an unpleasant often strong emotion caused by anticipation or awareness of danger; b (1) : an instance of this emotion (2) : a state marked by this emotion
As you can see from this definition, fear itself is not a bad thing. If it is triggered because you are in imminent danger, it very well could save your life. However, it can become a very negative aspect of your life and really take a toll on your life if you dwell in this state for prolonged periods of time.
In order to overcome dwelling in fear, you must first look at what you are afraid of. I only have one criteria that I’m looking for at this step in the process: Am I in immediate danger? The answer to this question is always no, because if I have time to ask this question my life is not in peril. At this point, I know that the fear is not helping me in any way. It is up to me, then, to address the fear and move on.
Our bodies and senses are very intelligent. Much more so than we give them credit for. Even before we visibly locate a source of danger, our body tingles, the hair on the back of our neck stands up and adrenaline begins to release. We know something is up and we actively search for the danger in order to determine the next step, whether that be to face it or run.
If the fear creeps in because we were watching the news or reading an emotionally charged article about world events it is impossible to pinpoint one source of impending doom. The source is an abstract idea that is all around us and we are just at its mercy. This is a fear that does not serve you. This leads to a lot of stress and if stuck in this emotion long enough, will lead to detrimental physical problems because you are not at ease. You are in (dis)ease when dwelling on a stressful fear.
How Do I Stop the Fear?
The simplest things that can be done, are sometimes the most difficult. It is simple to not watch the news or spend time arguing on Facebook, but to actually put it into practice is another issue completely. It took me decades to get to a point that these sources no longer instill fear in me. Even after abstaining from the news for periods of time, just seeing one article would create a strong sense of fear.
The one thing that helped me most in this sense was accepting full responsibility for my well-being. Had I done this at the beginning, it most definitely would not have taken me decades. There is no one on this planet that can take care of you better than yourself. This is not an easy truth to swallow and it’s not an easy thing to accept. If you are not working on getting your mind, body and spirit to optimal health, no one else is going to do it for you.
The path to optimal health for our body is well known: eat the right foods in the right amounts and exercise. The path to positive mental health is quite similar: put the right things in your mind and exercise your mind.
Knowing that prolonged fear is not good for our minds and eventually our bodies, it is then up to us to put better things into our minds. Just like removing sugars and processed foods from our diets, we must begin by removing fear from our thought consumption. News sites and social media are teeming with fear laden articles. Turn them off until you have learned how to filter out the emotion triggers.
Instead, focus on what is going on right in front of you. When you are living in the present you are not worrying about the future. Spend times with friends and family that you have positive interactions with. Volunteer your time to assist others. Take a moment to be grateful for everything in your life. Learn something new or rekindle an old hobby that you once enjoyed. Work out your mind with brain games from a site such as Lumosity.
It is still going to be inevitable that you will be exposed to fearful triggers or thoughts of worry will still come into your consciousness. We need to be aware when this happens, so that we can do something about it. Mindfulness is a practice that will assist you greatly in being able to recognize these fears while you are experiencing them.
Once you recognize them, it is time to actively transform them into something useful and healthy for you. First, acknowledge that you are experiencing fear. Next, reject it as something that doesn’t serve you. Lastly, transform it into an emotion that will help you in your goal to obtain better mental health.
These are very simple steps to implement, but again, very difficult to implement. They are so hard because our habits have been to dwell on the fear and habits are stubborn to change. It takes 21 days to develop a new habit. Since there are 3 steps to transform the fear, there are 3 new habits you need to develop.
Habit #1: practice mindfulness daily. Do this for at least 21 days before you begin to work on habit 2.
Habit #2: reject the fear or other automatic negative thought (ANT). You will not be able to do this in real time until you begin to become aware of it while it is happening. If you are working on this 21 days after you have successfully practiced mindfulness for 21 days you may still not be catching the emotion while you are experiencing it. That is fine and you can still practice this after the fact. Look back at your day each night and locate 1 instance of dwelling on a negative thought and reject it.
Habit #3: Transform the negative thought you rejected into something positive. The most common way to do this is with an affirmation. For example, if you are dwelling on a fear that you are going to lose your job because of the economy, you are going to reject it and replace it with an alternative thought. The healthier thought could be, “I do not know for certain what the future holds for me as far as employment, but I enjoy what I am doing right now and I will always be able to find a way to provide an income because I have the skills to do so.”
That’s it. Become the change you want to see in the world and you will find yourself navigating life with a lot more ease than you currently are no matter what the rest of the world seems to be doing. Even though you are the only one responsible for your well-being, it is ok, and encouraged, to seek help along your journey. Find a like-minded friend to encourage each other, or call me to see how we can work together to help you achieve your goals.