Yesterday we went to the movies to watch Brave. It was great. I love animated films. This year promises many choices. The previews were just as great. I always have my phone handy when I get to the movies to jot down any good quotes. And this one just stood out:
“There’s nothing wrong with being scared as long as you don’t let it change who you are.” from the future film ParaNorman.
For most of my life I remember hearing the words, “Be brave. Suck it up. Don’t be scared….” Being afraid was a weakness. I grew up being more afraid because I believed I was failing at notbeing brave. I suffered from panic attacks in the middle of the night. I walked around with anxiety on my shoulders, and later creating a giant hole in my stomach. I was a mess. Being afraid became a part of my personality. Others would assume that I was fine. Those were my magic words, “I’m fine! No worries!”
Being scared is the body’s defense. Something inside intuitively is putting a yellow flashing light of warning in our system. Like the above quote, there’s nothing wrong with being scared as long as you don’t let it dominate your life. In my case I was sucking it all in and pretending I was okay with everything. The responsibilities I added to myself in order to not fail were astronomical and I was a fool for allowing my fears to change me.
Fears are paralyzing. Some become phobias and later on turn into major disorders. I don’t suffer from panic attacks any longer. Those days are over. If I start worrying about something I start to examine what the root of the fear is trying to tell me. Am I doing the right thing? Is this my intuition trying to warn me? What’s the worst case scenario if I do this? And, there is the answer. Stepping back away from the fear allows me to diminish the overwhelming emotional trepidation. The emotion is just in my head. Many times I can substitute with positive reinforcements.
Anxiety is fed by the shift in the repetition of daily habits. When you step out of your normal state of life the fear takes over. Most people who suffer from panic attacks and anxiety try to control everything. When something appears in the path that is not part of the every-day function, the emotions take over. I know this well. I was constantly being spun out of control with distress.
My youngest daughter suffers from horrible anxiety. Fear kicks her obsessive compulsive behavior in overdrive. I have to stop her at times, sit her down, and say, “Ok, what’s the worst case scenario?” We briefly go through what could happen and then she sees that the fear in her head is much larger than anything in reality. There is nothing to control. Being abandoned at birth and spending two and a half years in a third world country have created a fear of abandonment and other monsters. Now that she’s older therapy and counseling is trying to break through those issues from the past. Her fears have changed her. They paralyze her in ways I will never understand. Even at my worst I did not show it. I controlled it which was probably just as bad. Being compassionate to her anxiety is an everyday theme…but not feeding into it is also a challenge. I want her to understand that control is an illusion. We have little control of anything. Things will happen. She will have good days and she will have bad days. Worrying over everything is not living. She is beginning to use breathing exercises to ease the anxiety at night. It is painfully difficult to see a 16 year old suffer from worrying and distress about so much. I hope and pray that this is nipped in the butt now that she’s still young. Behavior modification is important and continuously being emphasized.
The above quote has allowed me to remember that being scared is also good. Being afraid allows you to step back and then proceed with cautiousness. If we didn’t have that alarm we would be lost in a world of chaos. Fear can be our equilibrium of sorts. It can slow us down just enough to see things. But, the moment we allow it dominate our life fear becomes a monster. After all fear = false evidence appearing real. It’s good to acknowledge it but don’t let it change YOUR life. I find that meditation, exercise and being in nature alter the state of panic. And, handing things over to the Divine is always a stress relief!