Fear is both rational and irrational. It is a rational response to a perceived or actual threat. When there is a threat that requires a response, fear is the trigger that floods our body with the right biological chemicals for us to meet it. It gives us the energy to fight or flee (if we think in prehistoric terms).
It is also an irrational response though when we put that energy into circular thinking, leading to amplified fears. Fear becomes panic. No matter how we channel that panic, it is unhealthy. Especially when we are working at home, we can be in our heads too much. Unchecked, we can’t help but think of more things to worry about. Fear flourishes when it finds fertile ground. It’s like cancer. And if we let it metastasize, it can have serious negative consequences.
Now, I am a mad fan of connecting with friends and, when need be, psychologists and therapists. Outside of that though, there is a simple diagnostic question that we can use to ground ourselves and stay focused on the positive and the real.
Write down on one piece of paper:
What I believe
Then jot down everything that you currently believe that your fear is feeding – such as:
- I will not be able to get food for my kids with all the panic buying
- My parents will get sick
- I’m going to face financial hardship
There is power in writing it down. It takes it out of your head. It makes it concrete – not just a half shadowy thought. It makes it something to be acknowledged.
So then, write down on another page:
WHAT DO I KNOW TO BE TRUE?
This is where we can write down everything that is a solid truth, like:
- I have enough food for the next week
- My parents are in as safe a possible space as we can make for them
- I don’t have any savings, but I have a job this week, I am surrounded by friends/family who may be able to help, I am a problem solver and I am resourceful IF I face financial hardship – but that has not happened today.
AND because we are Christian, we can also add so many more things we know to be true:
- God is in control
- Jesus is my Lord and savior
- God is faithful
- God works for the good of those who love him
- I am a child of God
Write these down. See them in black and white on the page. Know them to be true.
This exercise can be done as many times as you need to and can be done with a friend or trusted colleague. Hopefully this will be grounding enough to help get you through the day. And since one of the things we know to be true is that God communicates with us in the Bible we can meet him there whenever we want.
I’ll admit, in these times of uncertainty, I have felt fear and worry on various days – sometimes rational fears and sometimes irrational. But I have my Bible open on the desk in front of me so at any time I feel wobbly, I can meet God in those pages.
This grounding exercise doesn’t make the fears go away, but it can re-anchor us when negative emotions are starting to rise up.
If the fears are flourishing though, please seek help. Reach out. We need to support each other and we want to as well – reaching out is not a weakness. It is allowing others to support you and, given strength and support, you can then strengthen and support others.
Do not be terrified, do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go. (Joshua 1:9)
Thanks, I’ve been seeking God for wisdom on how to support people who are fearful, what practical advice I could give to help them overcome their fear and have faith. The excercise you suggested sounds great. What I have been thinking about is how in business we do risk assessments where we write down the task, all the possible risks involved, the severity of these risks and the likelihood of them occurring as well as how we can minimize the risks. I’ve been finding when I take the time to look at what would actually need to happen for what I’m fearful about and how I can minimize the risk of it happening I realise that it’s highly unlikely to happen, I’m not helpless and there are things I can do to minimize the risk. Then what once felt like a fear giant shrinks and I’m not as afraid anymore.