You may remember that I wrote about pressure, or stress, about a week ago. I said that the stress was a trigger for the negative thought patterns of anxiety. You may also remember that I define anxiety as a preference for negative thoughts (negative perspective of the present and/or negative prediction of the future) that sets the mind racing in overdrive and puts the body in fight or flight mode. Anxiety then is a mental mode to be entered and exited and not a problem to be cured.
Today, I would like to write about how fears are both the basis for and fuel for the negative thought patterns. I can speak only of my own fears, for those I know best. Also, I admit my shame that I know fear so well, being a follower of a God of love. For fear and love are opposites. I can’t feel them at the same time. Try it and let me know if you can feel outpouring of unrequited, uncontrolling love and fear.
For me, fears come about when I remember a past hurt, a past loss that I grieved, a need that went unmet, or a dream or plan that never came to be. These all start a fear in way that serves my self-preservation instincts. If cave dweller me met a bear and was hurt, then fearing bears the rest of my life makes sense. However, I am not a cave dweller. I am a person with an over-active imagination, so I fear many things that have not raked claws over my skin.
So a fear starts innocently enough with a memory, but then my mind grabs it as a basis for anxiety. I was called into a HR office once, I did not lose my job and was only reprimanded for a minor offense. My anxiety now has turned a memory of HR interaction into an anxiety of losing a job. I work hard and try to follow as many of the rules as I can, partly out of obedience and partly out of my fear. This fear which my negative thought patterns of the future predict as losing my job.
So as I try to learn to disassemble my anxious tendencies, I need to disassemble the fears. For me, this works as consciously catching myself having the fear, asking myself what memory the fear came from, and then acknowledging that bad time. Finally I have to say that bad time was in the past, that I will learn from it and predict a future that is not a repetition of the bad time. I have to tell myself that my future is not my past and that over-thinking and controlling are not the way to have a pleasant future.
One of the ways I have learned to do is by remembering the story of King Midas. He brings about his own worst outcome. I think I do this too when I am anxious. I mess up the present by trying to control and over-think. Better to go with the flow in the river and beware the rocks than try to steer inch by inch.
I hope I have not bored you, gentle reader. Do you find your fears fuel and form basis of your anxieties? Do you find worrying and trying to control only reinforces the fears and brings about a negative outcome?
I am trying to be less judgmental and be more appreciative. The trying does not go very far some days. I try to count my blessings, yet I notice things (behavior and events mostly) that are less than optimal and I judge them poorly. Yesterday I came home from work and grumbled about this and that. Not a good attempt at appreciating. Perhaps today I will do better.
I know the old phrase Judge not lest ye be judged. When I get in a judgmental mood I often disregard this because I know others have judged me all day and I feel like it’s now my turn to judge. So maybe I need another phrase. How about Judge not because ye will only get into a taciturn humour. Humour in the archaic sense, of course, because I love the archaic.
Yes, I think I’ll try that phrase and see where it gets me.