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Please Do Not Feed the Fears

14 October 2014

Allison read a popular saying on a variety of Facebook pages and paused to consider why this one struck a chord in her and many of her friends.

Tags: allison read, balance, courage, mindfulness, social media

If you're active on Facebook or another social media platform, you see a lot of greeting card-like sayings. They might make you laugh, cry, reflect, or remind you of something meaningful. Sometimes they might offend you. You might like to share them. You might wish they weren't a part of your newsfeed. Regardless, they are part of the Facebook experience.

Recently, I've noticed this one popping up in my friends' posts as well as on pages like Debra Moffitt - Awake in the World and Do As One. It's a saying that's always makes me smile and reminds me that sometimes managing fear and anxiety takes effort.

Whether you're digging deep to find courage in your day-to-day life or managing the anxiety you feel about societal fear related to terror threats, health epidemics, an abduction, bullying, etc., it's important to remember individual and group fear can spread like wildfire. Some fear can be healthy, but too often we let it take us to a place where we can no longer make good decisions or function in calm ways.

At some point, we need to be able to talk ourselves and others through the fear in a way that helps restore a sense of calm without being patronizing. It's such a difficult balance to strike at the group or self level, but I think it's worth the effort. When I'm dealing with my fears, I first have to find a way to stop the diatribe in my head and the anxiety I verbalize to my loved ones. I'm an Extravert so if I'm not careful I can feed my fears by externalizing them with others beyond getting healthy support and into a more frenzied state of mind. The Introverts in my life rarely want to voice their worst fears, but many have told me that their inner dialogue actually gets louder and more frightening, too.

When I was a first year at the University of Virginia during exams, my mother told me to get out of the dorm whenever a group of people were have a collective worry fest. This was the first time I learned that getting away from group angst can actually be an important part of finding your own equilibrium. It can seem like such a cathartic venting session, but Mama knew that my mind would start to believe in the angst more than I believed in myself.

Whenever I find myself feeling worry, fear, or anxiety, I first turn to the breathing exercise I described in this blog post. It's one of the easiest tools I know of and I teach it to hundreds of clients every year who are trying to find a sense of calm to help them manage conflict, be more effective communicators, and make better balance choices for their lives. Before I can rationally talk myself into a less fearful state of mind, I find I have to do something basic, easy, and visceral to slow things down enough such that I can have a calmer inner dialogue. What helps you to stop feeding the bears in your head?


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