The Only Thing We Have to Fear Is Fear Itself – Franklin D. Roosevelt
There is so much news that is, well, frightening. It seems like every day there is more “bad” news and the reaction to this news as reported by the media is a response of contraction or panic. This stampede of fear is not something new in either our history or the history of the world. Often choices are made in times of such gloom that are later seen as misguided and seldom change the circumstances we are most afraid of.
As I was watching this happen, I began to wonder what I do when I am afraid. Fear is an interesting phenomena. Sometimes I am aware that I am afraid and sometimes I am not. Either way, I often act in a similar manner. I have two general responses to being afraid. The first is to strike out at whatever or whoever is closet to me when the fear reaction is engaged. This might be yelling at someone or at least showing them a high level of annoyance. Now my reaction doesn’t have anything to do with the person that I direct my response to. It is really my own need to push my fear out of my body and onto someone else.
The other response I have is to feeling afraid is to fudge the truth (sometimes called lying). This response often happens when I don’t immediately know that I am afraid. I fudge the truth to try to gives others a confidence that everything will be OK. I do this to bolster my own confidence without any real notion of whether what I am saying is really true or not. For example, I can say that I am confident that a certain client contract will close, when I don’t have any real evidence that supports this position I say this to tranquilize myself and others so that I don’t have to engage the panic that I am feeling inside.
I have been working through these reactions to fear for some time. I find that when I can say, “I am afraid”, I diffuse the need for either of the two reactions I mentioned above. What often happens next is that I am no longer feel controlled by the fear. It’s not that I don’t have some residual physical feelings that the fear invoked, but I can begin to consider what actions to take from a peaceful perspective and once I am clear on a course of action, I get busy.
My little microcosm isn’t much different than what I see happening in our financial markets and political system. There are many good reasons to be concerned with the situation we are facing not just economically but with the resources we need to sustain our quality of life. These circumstances didn’t just arise in the past few months. They have been around for some time. Our business leaders and politicians have been trying to keep us all a bit pacified so that we won’t change our economic behaviors.
We are now at a moment when the hiding the facts from us won’t work anymore. We are letting our business and political leaders know that we expect them to act differently. So I invite you to join me in not reacting in fear when you hear the news. If you feel fear, that’s OK. Just don’t let it be the prevailing mood when you decide what is the best response by both you and our leaders. Once you get clear outside the clutches of fear, then do what I do – get busy.