We live in a world that causes people to feel anxious on a daily basis, either by reading about terrifying events or worrying that another may occur. If you look upon the world as a fearful place, you are buying into a collective story, and only you can change the story as it applies to you.
Fear does many things to a person, but fundamentally it makes us feel insecure. Feeling secure is a most basic necessity, because without a sense of safety, the mind is preoccupied with threats instead of possibilities. If you go to work worrying that your job is on the line, it’s nearly impossible to look for ways to be better at your job and approach the future creatively.
In truth, the remedy for fear is personal and has little or nothing to do with external circumstances. Each of us needs to find our own way out of the climate of fear; no government action is going to do it for us.
Depending on the kind of person you are and the level of anxiety you feel, here are five ways that are effective in returning to a sense of personal safety and security.
1. Become more rational, and let facts diminish irrational fears: Learn about what frightens you.
Bring facts to light that offer genuine reassurance. Don’t go by rumours and speculations that fuel fear. Headlines about terrorism, for example, are always scary, but your actual chance of being directly harmed is millions to one.
2. Take yourself out of the anxiety loop: Avoid news stories about terrorism. Stop being addicted to violent scenes on television of insurgency, bombings, terrorist threats, kidnappings, and more. Do not promote in yourself or your family a sense of vigilance and silent dread.
3. Talk to someone who really listens: Share how you feel and ask for realistic feedback. For example, it isn’t realistic to worry that you will become a personal victim of terror. If such a worry haunts you, talk about it. Avoid talking to people who fan the flames of fear. Take all worst-case scenarios with a grain of salt.
4. Build a healing connection between yourself and the threat: Forming a human bond with someone else is a powerful remedy—this bond begins in your own mind. There is no ‘them’ out there waiting to get you. There are only human beings with the same emotions and interests that you possess. Keep that in mind when someone tries to get you to buy into a story rife with racial or religious stereotypes.
5. Be a practical optimist: There’s no need to bury your head in the sand, but psychologically, there’s nothing to be gained by gloomily projecting future events that you have no control over. Gaining control over your own existence is the single best way to decrease general, free-floating anxiety.
This strategy of finding your own sense of security and building upon it is very valuable, while adopting second-hand opinions about how scary the world is brings no personal growth—instead, it makes your awareness constrict. With expanded awareness, you tap into the level of the mind that actually has the power to bring about solutions.
Meditation is the most important practice to bring your mind to that level. As you cultivate inner security, your personal reality will change and fear will have little or no hold upon you.