What do you think? Is fear or anxiety a matter of feelings or thoughts? Yes, I know that it’s probably a mishmash of both, but if you had to pick one as the dominating force, which would it be? I will use my telepathic hat this morning and predict that you said feelings. I can say that with some confidence because I also believe that a lot of our fear and anxiety comes from fearful and anxious feelings. It is far more rare to be tormented with fearful or anxious thoughts.
This is important to identify and understand because there is a great gulf between thoughts and feelings. Feelings tell us where we are. They do not tell us where we should go. And thoughts, well, they are sort of all over the place, but the nature of feelings is clear. This is how I feel, right here right now, and its either terrible or wonderful.
This is why our various feelings of fear and anxiety prove useful in discovering where we are. If you feel yourself afraid or anxious, you should realize that you are probably up to something. There is the off chance possibility that something catastrophic and disastrous is about to happen, but if you’re reading this, and have made it through life thus far, I can safely say that most of the time the thing you fear eventually dissolves and dissipates. But when those butterflies rush to your stomach, you should get a little excited at the thought that whatever it is you want, whatever it is you dream of, whatever it is you want to be, has just gotten closer. Like the circular nature of comets every hundred years or so, when you feel a bit anxious about something, you might consider the fact that this particular crisis may present a real opportunity and you should work through it and take it.
Feelings tell us where we are. They do not tell us where to go. So, all of our fears and anxious thoughts do not serve us well at predicting how happy we will be in the future if we do or don’t do something. Yes, we have safety mechanisms inside our human nature that have been put there to protect us from harm, but I don’t think they have evolved as quickly as human progress. Technology is pushing us further and further into some unknown abyss, and we are getting more and more anxious, because there is no map, nor can we see where it is all going. Our feelings and thoughts of fear are very useful, unwelcome and taxing, but useful. They are not there to tell you what to do. They can be over written with purpose and a plan for the future.
Franklin D. Rosevelt was right when he said that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself. Fear will cripple your life. Anxiety will breed like maggots deep inside your soul, producing infinite little pockets of regret.
It doesn’t have to be like that. You can live differently, if you choose to lead your life with purpose. If you live your life meaningfully each and every day. So, don’t let fear and anxiety dissuade you from a bright and attainable future. Use those moments of fear in your life to realize they are nothing more than natures sign posts of danger that can ultimately be overcome, but more importantly, they are hints that you are in the right place, on the verge of seeing first hand what you always dreamed of beholding.
Cover photo generously provided by photographer Nik Shuliahin via unsplash.com