4.06.2012

A to Z: Fear

I'm a pretty anxious person in general.  Like a lot of things I guess, anxiety is about control, and the fear of not having it.  In my case, I have a pretty constant apprehension about things that are out of my control.  The stuff that hasn't happened yet.  The things that I don't get to decide.

I worry about the Yellowstone Caldera.  I worry about cancer.  I worry about global warming and terrorist attacks and whether gay marriage will ever finally be legalized and kids like Treyvon Martin and house fires and glass ceilings and whether the world will be completely screwed up for my children.  If I thought too hard about things, I'd never leave the house.  And sometimes I don't.

Anxiety is living in the future.  There is a Buddhist saying: "The past is past and the future does not exist."  I realize that I expend an enormous amount of energy ruminating on and coming up with a contingency plan for a future that does not exist.  The truth is, even if I covered every possible outcome, it wouldn't help.  If someone I love dies, no amount of sadness before-the-fact will make it any less devastating.  You can't pre-shed your tears.

So today I'm working on releasing that anxiety.  Letting go of that fear.  Putting myself firmly in the present, where I belong.

Note to self: stick around.  Things are pretty damn good here.


 One month.  26 posts.  A to Z.  (Don't know what I'm talking about?  Check out the Challenge here.)

16 comments:

  1. This is very close to me, so I definitely feel your need to work on a more balanced perspective.

    Here's a page that's helped. Never set up a "worry time," but simply declaring my room a worry-free zone has helped a good deal, 'cause you know how things always seem worse in the dark, when your imagination can take any worry and run with it.

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    1. Thank you for the link! I like your idea of creating a worry-free space moreso than I do a worry time. I'm not sure that once I allow myself to "flip the switch," so to speak, I'd just be able to say, "Oh, it's 5:20, time to stop worrying now!" But physically moving to another, worry-free space seems like it would have more power. I'm definitely trying that.

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  2. I guess I am lucky that I am not really a worrier, I do fear the future though. For me its almost the reverse of yours. I don't know what the future will bring, I cant even imagine, I very much live day to day. I do worry that nothing will happen, that I wont change my life in the ways that I want to and that I will disappoint myself and it will be too late to do anything about it.
    A great post, its made me stop spinning around and think! lol
    Thank you

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    1. That's a really interesting perspective. It's amazing how many different ways we all come up with to drive ourselves crazy! :)

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  3. I am a worrier too, and it's hard to control with logic. The worry-free room sounds good. Meditation has been pretty good for me, but it is time consuming to be still and quiet long enough to shut your brain off.

    That is a good link. Man, I do a lot of the cognitive distortions . . .

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    1. I am awful at meditation - I always think it'll be helpful but I can never quite get the hang of it. Maybe I need to give it more time. And yes, worry is SO hard to control with logic. Impossible! :)

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  4. My dad has always told me, 'Fear is something that never happened.'

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  5. I hear you, jessica!

    I've always had that damn inner voice of insecurity and worry. And I could so be OCD if I wanted to in order to battle the worry, lol! "Check the gas burner exactly six times to make sure it's off; lock the door five times; etc!" ;^)

    But remember the old adage: "FEAR = False Expectations that Appear Real." And worry solves nothing, and changes nothing except the worrier, and NOT for the better.

    Hang in there!

    I'm loving your blog and am very happy I met you through the A-to-Z!

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    1. Worry changes nothing except the worrier... I've never thought about it quite like that, but you're exactly right. Hmm. I'm going to have to write that down somewhere where I can see it. Thanks! :)

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  6. Hi, we have the same brain. We KNOW we should be in the present moment, but then you end up going to bed trying to visualize waves on a beach and suddenly you are worrying about global warming and big brother and how OnStar can TAP INTO YOUR CAR AND LISTEN IN and also have you tracked at all times! Ok, maybe the last part is just me...

    The buddist quote is great, and so true. Control is just not possible. Hope you have a less anxious day tomorrow. :)

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    1. Ha! We should really take turns trading this brain back and forth then. :) You can have it MWF, I'll take it TThSat, and we can both be brainless on Sundays. How's that sound?

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  7. I'm a big worrier too. I have to double check everything. I worry about worrying. I'm an anxious person and I have to have everything under control and know what's happening. After work I try and get it all under control during my bike ride home. That's my worry time I guess. Then, once I am home, I try to switch it all off.

    I might have to start a worry free room though. Seems like a great idea!

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    1. I think it's smart to try and give yourself a time to worry through things, then just be done with them and put them out of your mind. My, uh... worry... (ha) is that I wouldn't be able to turn it off again. But giving yourself that time not only during a specific timeframe, but also while you're performing a specific activity (like bike riding) could be a good way to mentally separate out that time. I'll have to try that!

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  8. "Anxiety is living in the future." That's pretty profound in this context. I'm very much a planner, and too often that slides into worrying and anxiety about what I haven't (or can't) plan for. I need to remember that.

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    1. Yeah, it's definitely easier said than done, but I'm working on it. Good luck to you! :)

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