All Articles Tagged "fear"
Behind closed doors, women whisper to each other about intuition. We say that we have the power to feel the molecules change in a room, and we know when our children are somewhere they shouldn’t be. Our hearts have ears attuned to the dishonesties of silence. This intuition, which I believe rises from somewhere ancient and divine, keeps us safe. Maybe it’s our direct communication with God.
The problem is, however, we misuse it.
Abusing our intuition manifests in two ways. First, we sometimes ignore the still small voice that beckons us toward something better. Secondly, and more often overlooked, we mistake our personal fears and biases as intuition. We use our judgments about things we don’t understand and pretend our “gut” told us to steer clear.
When talking to my best friend over drinks, she confessed feeling a deep level of calm at the pace of her new relationship. She was going super slow, but her new boyfriend worried that she was holding back. The thing was, he wasn’t exactly a new man in her life. She was in a new relationship with an old lover.
“I don’t know if I’m being guarded or trusting my gut,” she says. “I hope I’m not closed off to love.”
The friend in me wanted to shake her. I wanted to tell her that she needed to trust herself. I knew their history, and I wanted to tell her that her pacing was fine, but deep down inside, I realized that I had my own questions about my intuition. In an effort to be a bit wiser than I was the day before, I find myself slower to act, and I frequently wonder if my discretion is good sense or if I’m not open to new possibilities. I couldn’t give her advice that I couldn’t stand behind, so I just listened. But I was left wondering, how can we tell the difference between our intuition and our caution? It’s an ongoing experiment for me, but here are a few ways I try to keep myself honest:
I journal. A friend of mine is a recovering alcoholic who has been sober for many years. When rereading his old journals, he discovered that he’d written that he was an alcoholic almost a year before he found himself in recovery. “My journal was the only place I could be honest,” he’d said. I find this is true for myself as well. Our minds are so chaotic that honest thoughts get mixed in with the noise. If we can find ways to get our thoughts out, we’re more able to see the difference.
I ask friends to listen. Sometimes, when I’m confused, I ask a friend to listen to me and repeat back what she’s hearing. Now, this doesn’t mean your friend is going to give you advice or tell you what she would do. That’s not what you need. He or she is simply meant to listen to you while you rant, and then report back what they’ve heard you say. Often, our words in someone else’s mouth can bring us clarity. “Oh sh*t,” we think as our friends tell us what they’ve heard. “Did I really say that?”
I pray on it. I’m not an overwhelmingly religious person, but I cannot think of a single time when I’ve asked God for guidance and didn’t receive some insight. I am able to live more openly than most because I truly believe that life won’t let me go too far down a path that is ultimately not for me. Granted, this is a two-way street. I try to live my life righteously and do the best for everyone I meet, but ultimately, I can live a little more openly because I know that I don’t walk through this life alone.
Only my friend knows if she’s holding back out of fear or intuition, but when I find myself holding back in the name of emotional danger, I like to remember that I am the descendant of those who survived. I come from a lineage of strong and powerful people, and carry the genes of the strongest of the strong. So often, our caution does a disservice to this strength. We protect ourselves as if we’re more fragile than we are. In the end, only you can decide when something is safe, but my hope is that we can all get closer to our intuition and further away from guardedness so we can love and live more freely every day.
Patia Braithwaite is a New York City-based relationship writer. You can follow her ridiculous tales of love, life, and travel on her personal blog, Men, Myself, and God. She also tweets and ‘grams whenever the mood strikes her @pdotbrathw8.
Are you afraid of life? That is an extreme question, but it is real. With context the question would read, are you afraid of the potential of experiencing terrible things in life? Now that is real.
Bad things are always happening to people. Facts. Bad things like a cancer diagnosis, car accidents, identity theft, heart disease, drug addictions, fires, and natural disasters happen every day. This list could go on and on, but that would defeat the purpose of this article.
So, on the count of three let’s say it together, “STOP!”
Yes, that’s right. Yell it! STOP! STOP! STOP!
Now, take a deep breath and focus.
It’s time to discuss why we are yelling stop and to whom or what.
We are yelling stop to the incessant stream of bad news and negative information coming from wherever or whomever. It’s time to unplug from bad news.
It’s funny, there are about 330 million people living in these United States of America. Every morning when we open our eyes, we all move about our day living, working, loving, and moving forward to do it again. However, when we sit down for a cup of coffee, a check-in with social media, a newspaper, the television, or maybe even our own thoughts, the focus is death, drama, and destruction.
Why is that? What good does that do for anyone? All day long we interact with living and loving people, even if they are rude, but the news and the media and our thoughts rarely zone in on this fact. Instead, we make ourselves accessible to an overwhelming stream of bad news. It never shuts off.
No wonder, we are always anxious, fearful, and worried. How often do we reflect on and communicate the good news in our lives. Contrary to our minds, that are influenced by external forces, there is lots of good news.
Do you know the likelihood of an American dying is less than one percent? Yes, 99 percent of Americans live to see the following year. The Center for Disease Control reports that roughly 2.5 million Americans die each year. This is not to lessen the degree of significance in regards to those lives, but we must put things into proper perspective. We live in the wealthiest nation in the world, and we have a 99% chance of continuing to do so each year. What are we afraid of? Why are we so obsessed with being anxious, fearful, and worried?
According to The Anxiety and Depression Association of America, anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting 40 million adults in the United States age 18 and older, or 18 percent of the population. But why, and what can we do about it?
Why are we always anticipating the worst when we are surrounded by the best? Yes, bad things happen sometimes. However most of us, Americans, are living, working, eating, and loving human beings more days than not.
If we are anxious, this means that we are anticipating the future based on what we know of today or yesterday. But who can predict the future? Why not just enjoy what we have today instead of stressing about tomorrow?
Here are the most common methods used to combat fear stress, anxiety, and worry according to The Brain and Behavior Research Foundation:
- Maintaining an optimistic but realistic outlook
- Facing fear (ability to confront one’s fears)
- Reliance upon own inner, moral compass
- Turning to religious or spiritual practices
- Seeking and accepting social support
- Imitation of sturdy role models
- Staying physically fit
- Staying mentally sharp
- Cognitive and emotional flexibility (finding a way to accept that which cannot be changed)
- Looking for meaning and opportunity in the midst of adversity
Conclusion: Yell “STOP” to negative information and thinking.
Instead, take care of yourself by training your mind to think positively.
This will definitely be hard at first. It is always hard to go against societal norms and/or break habits, but practicing positivity is proven to decrease our stress levels and increase our happiness.
Moms, what are your tips for handling fear and stress?
Clarissa Joan is a spiritual life coach and editor-in-chief of The Clarissa Joan Experience. She resides in Philadelphia with her husband, their two girls, and a yorkie named Ace. Clarissa is also an expert in impact investing.
As told to Veronica Wells
Before there was Tinder or Soulswipe, there was AOL Instant Messenger (AIM) and Chatrooms. And if you think it’s easy to lie and catfish people today, through dating apps, the ease with which you could lie in a chatroom was exceptionally simpler. For the young ones reading this, chat rooms were online hangouts where people from across the country and world could communicate with each other in real time. Think texting…but on the computer… with hundreds of people. Many of the chatrooms were based on age and interests but there were no settings in place to insure that the person entering these rooms was telling the truth. Furthermore, when someone asked you A/S/L? (Age, Sex, Location), you could say whatever you liked. It was a creative spirit’s dream. You could literally take on a different persona every night if you so desired.
It was through this digital world that I had my first romantic interactions with men. Yes, I’m convinced that as a preteen I was chatting with grown men. Most of them believed I was 18, legal. Occasionally, I would enter a chat room with children my age but that was as a last ditch effort. The people in those rooms were, at best, immature and, at their worst, insanely boring, unable to hold a full, engaging conversation.
So I talked to the older crowd. Or people like me, pretending to be older. Before you start judging, calling me “fast,” know that I wasn’t alone. In her memoir, actress, producer and comedienne Issa Rae shares a shockingly similar experience. And she turned out just fine. But I’m getting sidetracked. Point is, all of my relationships have all started online. And when I started being honest about my age, the internet boos started calling me. And we went from there, developing semi or completely noncommittal romantic relationships in real life. All of which ended because the men were either mentally and socially unstable, f*ckboys or a combination of the two.
This was the case all throughout high school, college and even my early twenties. Truth be told, I still meet men from the internet. Tinder is a beautiful thing. But you only talk to someone on Tinder for so long before they’re trying to meet up. And this is where the problem lies.
Basically, I’m scared.
My new Tinder boo is literally everything I’ve been looking for. Bookish with a love for Boosie. Hood but with a good head on his shoulders and a heart for the people. The dude was literally nominated for a national award for his community service efforts. And this is no gas. I’ve been using the internet a long time, I know full well how to verify. On paper, he’s perfect. But instead of his qualifications making me eager to meet him. I’m terrified.
I’ve started to make excuses about why it’ll never work out between us. He travels too much. He—well, travel too much is really as far as I’ve gotten so far. He’s invited me out three times now. And each time I make an excuse as to why I can’t go. Truth be told, I just moved into a new place and it would be a bit inconvenient; but the more honest, realistic part of me knows that there is another reason why I’m so hesitant. I’m scared he won’t like me. I’m scared he won’t be everything he thought I was. And I’m scared… just scared. Things are so much easier when you’re on the phone, Skyping or chatting on the internet.
But then again, easy doesn’t usually lead to lasting, fruitful results. Maybe it’s time I take my relationships to the real world.
I’ve been very open with my recent struggles with accepting my mortality. For a long time, it was never even a second thought to me. As I grew up, in my traditionally Christian home, we were taught that it’s not “goodbye,” but “’til we meet again.” With that knowledge, and the advantage of youth, I didn’t think about my own inevitability.
But the first moment of being aware of my own mortality happened in college when a few people I was close to in high school died. But, though I felt that emotional trauma, youth allowed me to separate my mourning from my own vulnerability, and after a while, things went back to normal.
Then, the last four years happened and people who seemed so happy and healthy began to wither away, sometimes right in front of me. Some of them were older, some were younger, some were my age and that’s when I knew that this was a fate I couldn’t escape.
All the years of thinking: “’til we meet again,” were gone, and were replaced with “what happens afterward?”
It was hard trying to know that someone in the past, who felt like the world revolved around them, was now being relegated to past tense verbs, and aging anecdotes. Then I began to question the idea of how death, though sad, should be the joyous occasion that I was raised to believe it was. If that were the case, then why were so many people crying? If we knew we would see them again, why be sad anyway? If the promise of a new life allowed us peace, why were our self-preservation instincts so strong?
My head was beginning to feel heavy with all my morbid thoughts and instead of cherishing each day, I began to worry when and how my “time” would come.
But recently, a memory of one of my loved ones’ last words has been able to cease my fears, if only momentarily.
She’d struggle for so long, and was in a hospital at a different state. This surrogate family member had been so strong, but we knew that the inevitable was happening. When I got the phone call that she passed, through tears, I was told that she actually passed twice. The first time, for a few moments after being taken off of a ventilator. But when she came back, she turned to her family and said: “I’m not afraid of dying anymore.” A few moments later, she finally passed.
I didn’t think about what she said for a very long time. I focused on being there for my surrogate family and trying to be as much of a comfort as I could.
But nights later, I found myself thinking about the inevitable. I’ve been thinking about those final words. I don’t know what she saw but it was enough to give this person peace before passing. And if it was enough to cease her anxiety, then it should be enough to cease mine.
Those words have been able to encourage me to not dwell on the possible but to enjoy the present. I no longer have that dread of “what/when,” but now feel peaceful.
I’m not going to lie, there are moments when my past thoughts begin to arise, but during those times, I remember those words, and I’m able to finally find peace, regardless of my understanding.
I have a confession to make.
In the past, I cared too much about what people thought of me. I also feared rejection. I dimmed my light, curbed my creativity, and even put goals on hold simply because they stood the risk of being subject to public scrutiny. I have played myself short, missed out on opportunities, and not been my truest self simply because of fear. It’s disheartening to think about as I look back on what could have been if I simply would have just been (that was deep, right?). Now I’m on a path to living a life that is more in line with what I want and think as opposed to what I believe others will perceive about me. It’s not an easy track to be on, but it’s so worth it.
Fear comes in many forms, and most times, we don’t even realize it’s stopping us from doing what we really want to do. No one likes to be rejected, hated on or feel as if they aren’t accepted. That was the case with me. The borderline perfectionist in me cared too much if other people perceived me as less than perfect. Clearly, I know that no one is flawless, but I was not comfortable exposing my imperfections.
For a while, I second-guessed myself in most of my endeavors. I declined opportunities out of fear. I even went without asking for things I really wanted for fear of being rejected. This was no way to live and I knew something had to change. I had to change.
Let me also clarify. I wasn’t spending every single moment of my life considering what others thought. I would have been darn near miserable if that were the case. And there were times where I did take risks, but there were more moments where I refrained from doing things because I feared failure and judgment. All of us suffer from this phobia, some just a bit more than others.
Fear is inevitable. Everyone has moments when they feel afraid of something. It’s a natural emotion. It only becomes a problem when we allow it to dictate our lives and stand in the way of our dreams. This was the case in my life for too long. I played things safe and wasn’t reaching my fullest potential.
Fast forward to today. Things have changed, opportunities are more prevalent, and life is much more fulfilling. Of course, I want people to like me, but my day isn’t ruined if they don’t. Sure, I’m nervous to go after big opportunities for fear that I won’t live up to the hype, but now it doesn’t stop me from pursuing them. It’s still a process. I still cringe at the thought of rejection, but I’m not limited by it. This bold journey is just that…a journey. I’m not sure I will ever be 100% fearless. I don’t think there is such a thing, but I definitely don’t let other people’s opinions or the fear of failure bind me to a mediocre life.
Everyone has a fear of something that has them shake in their heels. Whether it’s fear of the unknown, some phobia or just life in general, many of us stop dead in our tracks in efforts to ensure things turn out okay. Well if you never try how do you know what will and won’t work out in your favor? Here are some ways to overcome fear and take risk.
I feel as though the saddest tragedy in life is when everyone can see our greatness but us. As I thought about it more, I don’t think that the problem is that we can’t see our own potential, it’s that we stop ourselves from achieving it. But why do we do this? What is it in us that will allow us to sabotage ourselves? Why would we take the easiest road when we know that that’s not the way that we truly desire to go?
You see your goal, it’s there, but for some reason you’re stopping yourself from reaching it. What’s going on?
For most, it’s an issue of fear.
If there’s one thing that humans can bond on, it’s the feeling of fear. Why? Because there’s something very palpable about the feeling. In everyone’s lives, at one point or another, we’ve encountered those strong feelings of dread/trepidation. It’s very intense and creates a sense of panic that will either immobilize us, or cause us to fight against it. However, when can fear be beneficial? When do you know to trust your gut, and when do you know to ignore that fear?
Now, I’m not a psychologist, but if we break down fear, it seems as though it can be summed up into three categories. The first category is self-preservation.
Our self-preservation fear is innate, it’s what has allowed us to survive. It’s the awareness in ourselves that causes us to look when something moves out of the corner of our eyes, tells us not to trust the creepy guy who you don’t know who wants to drive you to the store, or tells you “it’s not worth it” when you want to get into an argument/fight with the rude person. This fear is part of your survival instinct, to help you to live as long as you can on this Earth.
The second category is irrational.
Irrational fear is like your self-preservation fear, just magnified and with no concrete evidence. It’s like you’re afraid to go out of your house because you know what can happen, so you use that as a reason not to leave. Irrational fear causes you to put your life on hold, because you’re too afraid of what can happen, so you don’t live at all.
The third category is complacency.
Now this fear, to me, is extremely detrimental. You want a job, a new job, a better job, but the idea of “what ifs” overwhelms you so much that instead of going through with finding a job that’s ideal for you, you go the route of something more easy. This fear stops you from being great, allows you to stay in the rut that you’re in, and encourages mediocrity and below.
So what was the point of identifying these fears? The thing is that sometimes we can mistake one for the other. People will let their irrational fears and their need for consistency stop them from achieving things that they really want. They’ll rationalize why they shouldn’t, and try to put that fear in the self-preservation category, when the truth is, you’re only stopping yourself.
For those who believe in Charles Darwin’s theory of “Survival of the Fittest” know that it dictates that “only the strongest survive.” The truth of the matter is, living the best life that you can means to be strong, courageous, and to discard complacency. Trying to make irrational fears rational isn’t helping you. It’s hindering you.
When you’re having a moment where you have an opportunity of progress, and you feel that twinge of fear, try to categorize it. Figure out where it places. Is this fear because I could potentially put myself in danger? Am I fearful because I’m creating an invisible level of chaos, or am I fearful because I’m not comfortable of what lies beyond my life right now? Once you can figure those things out, then you might be able to start living the best life that you can.
Remember, most successful people have had that exact same fear you’ve had. However, they worked through it, made themselves vulnerable, and stepped out into a direction that was unfamiliar. They got to where they are by working through their fear, now it’s just up for you to do the same.
Want to know what really terrifies men about relationships? It’s not always the stereotypical “having one sex partner for the rest of life” issue—even a man who is great at monogamy and ready to be emotionally open will still be afraid of these 7 things.
There is something universally inspiring about the Olympics: It brings us together as a country to cheer for our team, and as a world community to celebrate our best athletes. We celebrate those who step onto the podium and our hearts break with those who don’t.
Our own lives mimic the events played out in Sochi. Whether it’s pulling together at work, celebrating when we achieve our goal or feeling the agony of a lost love, we are living the Olympic experience every day. All too often, though, we focus on what went wrong and we forget what went right. All too often, we beat ourselves up for “just” receiving a bronze medal — when that’s really something to cheer about.
When was the last time you celebrated feeling good when you crawled out of bed in the morning? Have you given thanks for having a job or finishing a task you’d been dreading? We view these everyday activities as part of life and not worthy of our time or attention; instead we wait around for the big promotion, the grand love or the acquisition of the big symbol as proof of our value. In the meantime we feel less than our best and happiness seems to elude us.
As I’ve watched the Olympics this week I gained monumental inspiration from watching the athletes … not in their performances (which are, of course, amazing) but in their attitude about their performance. It is through these role models we can learn to raise our spirits right now regardless of our results.
Read more about living your best life at YourTango.com
…While fear might motivate us to action, we will burn out if we stay there. Here are some tips to move from fear to faith:
1. Find a Point of Contact: …We are stronger than the moments of life that we face!
2. Get Understanding: Knowledge is power! But it must be filtered through the lens of possibility. True understanding comes when we handle information properly. Miracles happen every day. There are people who have defied medical odds to live longer than anyone expected. Then there are still others who used their diagnosis to live fuller in the time that remained and in doing so transformed others. Knowledge only paints half the picture but possibility completes it.
3. Talk it Out: When we fear something, our instinct is to protect ourselves from it. Sometimes we simply need to talk ourselves through fear to discover what lies on the other side. For instance, we may be afraid of knowing how someone we are interested in feels about us. Not knowing protects us from rejection. But in truth, finding out actually frees us to move on and forward—with or without that person. Next time, fear knocks…answer the door and have the conversation.
You can read more on how Coach Felicia got over her own fear over on ESSENCE.com. How have you been able to combat fear? Whether it be a next step in life, an unspoken conversation that needs to happen or anything else, do you just rip the band-aid off?