After two years of factoring everything we do through a fear-riddled lens of ‘should we or shouldn’t we?’ go there, invite people in, meet in a restaurant (when they were open) travel, go to a movie (still haven’t done that one since lockdowns began in March 2020) restrictions are lifting again, and soon, going where ever we want, with whomever we want, however we want (as in unmasked) will be possible.
Restrictions lift. How do we get rid of the fear?
My beloved has a much higher risk tolerance than me. To my fears, should we or shouldn’t we, his reply is a confident, “It’ll be okay.”
To which he replies, “It will be what it will be.”
Harrumph. How do I get rid of my fear?
It’s a mind game, aided and abetted by cellular memories peppered with anxiety-laden neurons swamping my body with waves of worst-case scenarios and negative fortune-telling.
Fear in-the-moment can be a great motivator.
Sustained fear is a great inhibitor.
I’ve come up with a plan on how to alleviate and hopefully eliminate (thought I’m not holding my breath on that one), the FOGO that has permeated my being during these past two years of sequestered solitude. (In case you’re wondering, FOGO – fear of going out, has taken up residence at the opposite end of the spectrum from my pre-Covid compatriot, fear of missing out.)
It’s a work in progress, but here’s what I’ve got in my plan thus far.
- Breathe — just breathe.
- Like Covid, this too shall pass. Fear will abate and though tentacles may still cling to tiny neurons, You can’t think your way into fear (just as you can’t think your way out of diarrhea) and you can’t think your way out of it. Breathe in. Breathe out, In. Out.
- Repeat often — this too shall pass.
- Yup. It will. Fear will pass. Anxiety will fade. Hope always rises and Love always wins. If you must hold onto something, hold onto that — Love always wins. Now repeat. This too shall pass. Love always wins.
- Feel it. Face it. Free it.
- Fear is the body’s way of keeping you safe — at least when it first arrives. Hanging onto it for too long gives it roots, and anything rooted in fear will grow more fear. To free it, you must dig into its origins, unearth their weighty matters and sift through their heavy cloud of uncertainty and anxiety to face the truth, “This is fear talking. Fear is no longer my friend. It is the chains that bind me, the mantle that holds me down, the darkness that traps me.”
- To free yourself of its darkness, you must break through the cracks in its armour to let the light in. And to do that, you gotta breathe. In. Out. In. Out.
- Do the things that bring you joy.
- Joy is fear’s great adversary. Doing joyful things tells fear it’s not the boss.
- Let go of searching for a ‘perfect solution’.
- The art of seeking perfection is the antithesis of experiencing joy, courage, trust, happiness, freedom. When fear-riddled thinking of ‘what if’ is driving you into deadend alleys looking for the perfect way out, open all the doors and windows in your home and imagine fresh air blowing through and blowing away all that fear.
- Repeat often.
- Keep it Simple.
- There’s no need to create a 100 point plan to overcome fear supported by GANT charts and lists of actionable items. Keep it Simple. Commit to doing one thing every day that brings you joy. Like, dancing or walking with your dog, or reading a story book to your child, or going for a swim… And every day, shorten the timeline — go from once a day to twice a day. Twice a day to three times a day… and so on.
- Repetition of joy-making activities will, in time, root out fears’ tendrils and cover them up with laughter, fun, frolic, and maybe even a cartwheel or two.
- And… to stretch those fear-conquering muscles… include a friend or two in each activity and keep widening your circle…
Which brings me to the (currently) last item on my list…
- Be Patient. Be kind. Be loving.
- This fear wasn’t created in a day. It slowly, stealthily, sinuously wound its way into our lives over two years of COVID’s rampage. Be patient. Be kind. Be loving. With yourself and everyone in your life. You may not all agree on what’s the best next step — but you can agree on one thing (I hope) — people matter. Family, friends, connections matter.
How do you move through your fear? I’d love to hear.
But later, okay? Right now I’m off to take Beaumont the Sheepadoodle for a walk. That brings me great joy.