No Fear

I’ve always been a worrier.  I’ve tried hard not to be, but my success has been marginal, to say the least.  For some reason, I can easily imagine a myriad of things that can go wrong in just about any given situation, and I tend to think about those possible negative outcomes a bit more than I should.  I honestly think I was just born this way.  

The good news is the older I get, the more accepting I have become of my true nature. So instead of trying to worry less, I try to remember that just because I’m worried that something will go wrong doesn’t mean it actually will go wrong.  I think when we can’t actually change a part of our character, the best thing to do is simply adapt to it.  Yes, I worry.  But no, that doesn’t necessarily mean bad things are coming.  When I can remember that, I do so much better, because then I don’t let my habit of worrying about something morph into actual fear.

There are still times (thankfully rare) when I let my worry get out of control and cross the line into fearful thinking.  Recently, my husband had a follow up visit with his surgeon to discuss some lingering side effects from his cancer surgery.  There was no real reason for alarm, but in the days leading up to his appointment I found myself seriously afraid that we were going to get bad news.  I was living in dread and fear, unable to fully engage with others or simply enjoy myself.  I knew I was overreacting, but I couldn’t calm down or think rationally about the situation.  

Luckily, his visit with the surgeon showed that everything is, indeed, just fine and all my worry was for nothing.  I’m both grateful and relieved.  But when I look back over the past couple of weeks, I’m struck by just how much I missed out on by being so afraid.  The truth is, you can’t truly live your life when you’re afraid.  The best you can do is endure.

I think there is a lesson for all of us in this, because when I look around, I realize that I’m not the only one who’s struggling with excessive fear these days.  We’re afraid of escalating war, climate change, and increasing crime, etc.  In my country, both conservatives and liberals are afraid the other side is out to destroy our democracy and take away our basic freedoms.  Fear is all around us, encouraged by the news and politicians, and the results aren’t pretty.

Of course our country and our planet are facing some very real problems that require solutions.  But I believe solutions are never found when we’re living in fear.  Solutions require ingenuity, hope, compassion and most of all, working together with people we don’t always agree with.  I think it’s natural to worry about our problems and to seek answers.  The trick is to not let our worry morph into a paralyzing, and ultimately destructive, fear.  Because a life lived in fear isn’t good for anybody, ever.  Trust me on this……

 

 

92 thoughts on “No Fear

  1. It strikes me that governments want us afraid…then we’ll just go along with their policies influenced by group pressure rather than examining them and deciding whether they are in our interests.
    I like to look at the possibilities, including those on the down side, and those I can cope with or change I will, the others I just make up my mind to wait and see what happens.
    I do sympathise with you worrying about your husband’s appointment…..my husband is in ill health and I’ve spent too much time over the years on the telephone to hospital staff when he has been inside for treatment, always wondering what the news will be.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It seems that way to me, too! It’s bad enough when ordinary citizens demonize others, but for the past few years our political leaders have been doing it too. I respect leaders who take the high road, but they’re rather scarce on the ground, sadly. And thanks for your words about my husband. We had a few unexpected bumps in his road to recovery, and that’s made me suspect the worst, I think. I hope your husband’s health improves….sending good thoughts your way!!!

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  2. Cancer abides by few rules, so you have every right to worry. It’s my nature, too; it’s impossibly hard to become someone new at our age. But what a relief, for all! Deep breathe and celebrate! Congratulations!

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    • Thank you! And I believe you’re right, we really can’t change ourselves now (if we ever could.) The best we can do is learn to manage our fears and idiosyncrasies, and just live our lives as best we can. And yes, we are very relieved!!!

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  3. Good points about fear. It’s a primal thing. Some folks like to take advantage of it, especially on others that don’t realize or don’t want to realize they’re being played. You could also substitute anger, resentment, bigotry, and a number of other emotions into your point with the same conclusion.

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    • That’s a good point, all those other negative emotions are interchangeable with fear. The trick is to realize when we are being pushed into a place of fear (or anger, resentment, etc) and make the decision not to go there! Because we really don’t have to….and the world is a much better place when we don’t!

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  4. I too can build things up in my own head and when I let that happen it ruins just experiencing life. I’ve often wondered how things throughout life, like a general feeling that I have had few people who I can count on, have influenced those emotions and created such worry and fear. It’s definitely not always easy to let the worry go.

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    • I think it can be very hard to let go of worry. Having good people we can count on helps, because they let us speak our truth without judgment. And personally, I find it much better to manage emotions once I can articulate them. I’m blessed with those kind of friends, and it really helps! Thanks for letting me know you relate….that also helps!

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  5. I think many of us can identify with worry. I have been consciously trying to make my mind change the subject when worries pop up. People have made it through many upheavals and I try to imagine what my grandparents and parents went through with the depression and then war. When I was a kid there was the cold war, nuclear missiles, and a polluted planet. We have persevered and I think the next generation will keep us going.

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    • That’s one of my coping tools too! I try to remember all the challenges that the generations before us lived through: world wars, the great depression, sickness, and all sorts of things. It really does help put our problems into perspective. Deep in my heart, I believe we will get through all this mess….we just have to be strong and keep trying!

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  6. So glad your hubby’s checkup went well Ann. I am with you on the worrying thing. I have always been a worrier and even when there is no reason to worry, I tend to find one. Lately though, I have been asking myself, is there anything I can do to change the situation. The simple answer is “Change my thoughts”. I do my best to think of the good things that might happen instead of the bad, as I harken back to a poster I saw more than 45 years ago. Change your thoughts and you will change your world. How true. Worrying is the enemy of progress. Happy weekend. Allan

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    • Thank you, Allan! It really was relief. And yes, our thoughts have so much power over us. Mine used to be much more negative, but I’ve been making a conscious effort to stop thinking that way, and it usually helps. I think my worry about my husband’s appointment was the result of more than once thinking we were “out of the woods” only to find out we weren’t. So my expectations naturally went negative. But that turned out not to be the case, which was good lesson for me to hang on to!!!

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  7. I try to convince myself that I should rise above my fear, and yet it remains in the back of my mind. I am a good worrier. I was reared to be one. Nature? Nurture? It may not matter anymore. I agree with you that worrying does no real good… still I do it.

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    • I’m guessing that those of us who worry too much are a result of both nature and nurture, and it’s a very hard habit to overcome. In some ways, it’s practical, because we envision negative outcomes and plan for them, but in other ways, it just robs us of energy that could be much better spent. I think the key is just to recognize that we tend to worry even without cause, and so not to let that worry guide our decisions. As long as we’re honest with ourselves, I think we’ll be okay!

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  8. I think that you’re on to something! There’s a difference between worry and fear, tho’ both are real & valid feelings. But with acceptance comes a kind of relief. Often out of our hands after the first few baby steps we can take…
    Glad things turned out for the better!

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    • Thank you, Donna! In these times when we’re being encouraged to fear each other and the future, I think it’s so important to step back, take a deep breath, and realize that we’re much stronger…and more loving….than we think!

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  9. I’ve always been a “worse case scenario” kind of person. I found my niche as a compliance and safety officer (among other titles) so part of my job was to look at the workplace and try to think of all the things that could go wrong and then put in place processes to prevent disaster. Sometimes it was training, other times it was purchasing different equipment or supplies, and still others it involved rethinking processes! I was very good at my job. Because I felt that I had a smidgen of control I was able to sleep well…I hope you can step off the hamster wheel of worry!

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    • I think there are some benefits to worrying, as you pointed out. Anticipating and planning for problems can be a good thing. As long as we let go of the worry once we’ve figured out a solution should our worst fears come true…. Worrying without end just robs us of the joy of l life, and that’s not a good thing. Thanks for your good wishes…I’m working on it!

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    • I think it can energize us in positive directions if we’re intentional about it, but it can also paralyze us if we’re not careful. Living in fear is a very negative thing, I believe, and it can blind us to the solutions that are just as real as whatever we’re afraid of, you know? It’s a balancing act for sure! It’s a struggle to not become too negative, but I believe it’s worth the effort. Thanks for your comment, Neil!

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  10. I think sometimes past experiences in things can kick up fear reactions simply because we’ve been in similar situations before and maybe things didn’t go well. Like, maybe because of some of your past experiences with getting not so good news about your husband from doctors prompted the worry/ fear. I have also heard that past stressful experiences can actually get “stuck” in the nervous system. I am sure your worry over your husband’s appointment was warranted. Like the thing with my momma- fear kicked up fear, kicked up fear. I’ll never look at at hospital bed or doctor the same again I bet, without all of that coming back up.

    I do get what you’re saying though. And, I agree. Fear can definitely bring things to a halt and put the brakes on growth. There’s definitely a need for balance, I think. Thought provoking post. You have a way of seeing things that helps me expand my thinking and nod my head. Fabulous writing, as always.

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    • First, thank you so much for your kind words about my blog! And then thanks for your insight, I think it was spot on. I think you’re exactly right about the visit to the surgeon triggering some very difficult memories, because twice before we had thought we were “out of the woods” when it came to my husband’s cancer, only to discover we weren’t. So I really think my fear came from that place more than the new visit. And I’m sorry you’re experiencing the same thing with doctors and hospitals because of what you went through with your mom. I think those will always be triggers for grief and fear. The only good news is that since you’re aware of it, which might help put it into perspective. Hugs to you, my friend!

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      • You are very welcome. I love this space you’ve created here. Thank you, I wish the experience with my mom would’ve gone a different way. The diagnoses were catastrophic- probably similar to the feeling you got when you thought he was ‘out of the woods’ twice. It’s like that devastation moves in and takes a seat. I bet you’re right about the things that will always be triggers. At least to some degree. Because, bottom line: the medical stuff was huge and she’s not here. Love what you said about perspective. That’s true. If I am aware of it, I can maybe move past it eventually. I think the key here is to be gentle with ourselves where health stuff is concerned. Our experiences in it definitely kick up a fear, that makes complete and total sense. Thank you for the hugs. I will take them.

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  11. This is such a meaningful post, Ann. I’m sorry for your worries – especially with the recent cancer diagnosis for your husband. Understandable!
    After my son died, I was force to face my worst fear. And moving forward I had a choice – I could fear that something else could happen (my facade of safety was shattered). But instead, I decided that if things were okay, that was enough for me. Every day is a gift, because we really don’t know what’s around the bend.

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    • I have a friend who lost her only child and she said that afterwards she wasn’t as afraid of anything else, because the worst thing that could happen to her already did. Sad, but true. And I know I’m lucky in that my husband’s cancer is in full remission, but I’m beginning to realize that it will take a while for my emotions to catch up to that fact. But I did learn a lesson similar to yours through the whole thing: I do realize that every day is a gift and not to count on a tomorrow that is in no way guaranteed. And I know I’ve said it before, but I’m still so very sorry for the loss of your precious son.

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      • Thank you for your kind words, Ann. Even with the lessons we learn, sometimes it is easier said than done. It’s very easy to sweat the small stuff, I think it’s human nature. And processing what recently happened in your life will take time. My grief followed me for so many years and I’m just grateful that I am in a good place today!

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  12. I’m a worrier too Ann but like you the older I get the more I realise that it serves absolutely no purpose. Still, it’s not easy to break out of the fear, the conditioning and the programming that seems to have been instilled in us since we can all remember. The media, the politics, the whole system seems to be designed to keep us always worried, always seeking something outside of ourselves. It’s why I don’t watch the news or tv these days as it’s all about control. Big picture stuff aside, I’m so glad Ann that your hubby was given a clean bill of health. Must have been such a relief. Sending you lots of love and here’s to keeping the faith over fear!

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    • Thanks, Miriam! The relief is incredible! And honestly, I look to you as an example. You’re a realist and see things as they are, but you’ve made the choice to turn your back on the things that get in the way of your fully living your life. You’re doing what makes you happy, taking care of those you love, and sharing your experiences with others and offering encouragement. I honestly wish more of us lived the way you do! Personally, I’m working on it…..

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      • Oh Ann, thank you! Trust me it’s not always easy and not everyone around us understands why we’re doing what we’re doing. But there comes a time when we have to listen to our own inner voice and not worry about what others think. I’m a work in progress. 🙏

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  13. That is good news about your husband, Ann. What a relief!

    Sometimes there are no solutions, or time runs out for them. I guess we have to accept that there are some things over which we have very little control. I am sure you have mentioned this in a post before, lol.

    Like you, I’m a work in progress, Ann.

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    • Thanks, Tracy! We are relieved. And yes, sometimes we just can’t control things or hold on to what we want to keep. Sadly, that’s a part of life. But I also believe that sometimes there are solutions coming that we just can’t see yet. Humans, with all their faults, are both intelligent and adaptable, and as long as we are trying to find solutions to our problems, I think we will actually find them. No one knows for sure, of course, but I do have hope. As for my personal tendency to worry too much, like you say, we’re all a work in progress!

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  14. I love the last paragraph, Ann. So full of reason and hope and a way forward. I think “fear” is being encouraged and purposely escalated in our political environment and it’s making everyone on edge as it accomplishes nothing. And congrats on the wonderful health report for your husband. We just had that very same appointment last Thursday and the same good news for my husband. May we both enjoy the sense of relief and joy in the years to come. ❤

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    • Oh, Diane, I’m so glad!!! I don’t think anyone really understands the relief until the person in question is someone they love. It’s just huge. And yes, I do think the fear is encouraged in the political arena, by both parties, because keeping us afraid of the other party means we don’t ever question our own party and want them to be in total control of everything, all the time. In other words, the fear serves the politicians, but it has devastating effects on our country, and our world, as a whole. We really are “all in this together” and the sooner we figure that out, the better, I think. Thanks for your comment!

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  15. An old character reminded me one day – Little girl, you’re worrying because you have nothing to worry about.
    Another saying – worrying is like rocking in a rocking chair; it gives you something to do but it doesn’t get you anywhere.
    And finally, trust that whatever happens, I will deal with it.
    I replace the worry tape with these sayings when I get on the hamster wheel of worry.

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    • Those are all good sayings, thank you! One way I’ve successfully coped with worry is outlined in the third one: I acknowledge that something can go wrong, make a plan for dealing with it if it does, and then I can actually let go of the worry. For some reason, that’s a coping strategy that really works for me. Thanks again for the helpful comment!

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  16. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with worrying or being fearful. Like you said, small doses of the stuff is what makes us, us. We’re human. And there is something to be said for feeling these things and yet, still moving forward.

    Glad to hear all is well with your husband.

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    • Thank you, I’m glad too! I do think that we should never apologize for our emotions, and they just show up, usually uninvited. For me, I can live with worry and mange it just fine. But if I am afraid for too long, then it does stop me from enjoying my life or even from finding solutions to the problem: it becomes almost paralyzing. So that’s why I try very hard not to dwell in a fearful state. And I honestly think that a lot of the aggressive and hateful behavior we’re seeing around us today is rooted in fear. I believe if we can learn to let go of that fear, it makes it so much easier to come together and move forward. Just my opinion, though. Thanks so much for your comment! It is good to remember that being human means that sometimes we’re going to worry and/or be afraid!

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    • It’s the only way, Peter. I really believe that! And reading your wife’s posts about her family’s struggles after world war II really reinforces that belief. Sometimes moving forward with courage is the only thing that makes sense.

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  17. Having lived with some world class worriers, including my mother (whom I liked to call a “What-iffer,”) I’ve noticed something. The spiral of paralyzing fear often begins when a person stops responding to reality, and begins responding to their thoughts about that reality instead. Occasionally, I’ll find myself thinking “what if…” about this or that, and when I do, I squash that thought like a bug. Dealing with “what is” beats thinking about “what if” every day of the week.

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    • That’s a good point! When we worry for too long, we do get caught up in an alternate reality of things that aren’t even real, and yet we’re responding as if they are. A very good reason to turn our backs on that kind of thinking.

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  18. I can identify with this as I’m a bit of a worrier myself.
    I’m in the midst of a job change. It’s the first time I’ve resigned from a job in favour of a better one; previous job changes were forced by redundancy.
    There was a point where I’d handed in my notice of resignation at my old job but had not yet received confirmation from the new job that they’d completed all the background checks, references etc required. I was constantly thinking “what if there’s a problem and they withdraw the job offer?”
    Thankfully they didn’t. All is well, although my start day in the new job has now been declared a Bank Holiday for the funeral of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

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    • Congratulations on your new job! And I understand that worry completely…I would have worried about the same thing. I’m glad it all worked out (and doesn’t it usually, despite our worries?) I’m also sorry for the loss of your country’s beloved queen.

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      • Thank you, Ann.
        I’ve had the confirmation I was needing regarding the new job. Furthermore my first day (19th) has been declared a public holiday so I get paid but don’t have to go in.

        Our late Queen was certainly loved and largely respected and admired.
        We’re seeing history being made each day with the ceremonies and traditions being televised for the first time ever.

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  19. Ann, I’ve always heard that the bulk of the things we worry about and stress over never actually happen, so the odds are in our favor. That said, I come from a long line of worriers and suspect that’s one trait passed from generation to generation. It’s a learned behavior and as such, can be unlearned. Easy? Nope, not when we’ve got years of active worrying under our belts! Hang in there … and congrats to your hubby on the good news.

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    • Yes, I think worry will always come naturally to me, but I am (step by step) learning to manage it and in some cases, eliminate it all together. Because you’re right: the things we worry about are rarely the problems that actually arise! And thanks for the good wishes for my husband!

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  20. Firstly, I’m so glad your husband’s health is good, and the appointment at the hospital was positive.

    I’ve always been a worrier. Even as a child, I was called a worry-guts. I’m afraid I sometimes let it get the better of me, imagining the worst scenario, but, like you, I can see my fears more rationally as I get older. I think my most common and relatively minor worry is being late. It’s something I hate being. Gradually, I’m learning that, even if I am late for something, the worst that can happen is that I miss an appointment or something similar. It’s not usually the end of the world for me. However, that wouldn’t necessarily apply to others; for instance, if you were late for work every morning, there would be a consequence, i.e. losing your job.

    Of course, there are far more serious things to worry about, too, but I have to learn that I can’t control my whole world. I can only control how I react to those things x.

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    • I loved that last paragraph! It is so true, and liberating once we finally accept that. We can’t change things by worrying, and we can’t control the majority of what happens in this world. We can only control our reaction to them, and our own words and actions. So we try not to worry so much, we recognize that our worry is often unfounded and don’t let our actions be dictated by it. That really helps, I’ve found!

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  21. That is one of the things I pray the most about, to have faith and not worry, but still I worry. It’s human nature but I have gotten a whole lot better at it and as my faith strengthens it gets even better. Glad your husband is doing better.

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  22. Ann, worry is a part of life but yes when we allow it to take over our lives then it’s not healthy. I took an all trip the other day with my sister and as we left our town my panic kicked in. I sighed heavily and began deep breathing to calm myself down. My sister asked if I was okay and of course I said yes even though I wasn’t at the time. I asked her if she has anxiety when she takes trips like these and she said no. I told her that having the anxiety about leaving home for the day really sucks. I had to keep telling myself that everything will be alright and eventually I calmed down. For a few moments after we left I thought about telling her that I couldn’t go, but where we were going meant a lot to all those involved so I didn’t want to let anyone down. Anxiety and worry can really suck sometime but we usually seem to make it through those times. So happy to hear that you and your husband are doing well.

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    • I’m so sorry to hear you had such a touch time when you left for your trip! And I can relate…sometimes it’s all we can do not to say, “I can’t do this!” But if we can just get over the hump, most often we find we are truly enjoying ourselves. I’m glad you were able to calm down, and thank so much for your good wishes about my husband!

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  23. What a relief it must be to be assured once more that your husband is alright! Fear might seem a waste of time and energy in the light of relief and good news, but to me, your fear was grounded in love and compassion, Ann – as is the fear you have over the state of affairs in the US and in the world at large. Granted, fear isn’t always a good thing, but perhaps one like yours is good because it makes you want to do something to make things better. Being a natural worrier myself, I’ve had enough experiences with fear to know that I never want to be caught in the tentacles of crippling fear that decimates hope in the future. Such a fear takes one into neverending spirals of darkness. Once in, it is so hard to escape from this sort of fear. However, if the fear we have can propel us to go out there and right wrongs or bring the light to others, maybe it’s a reason why God allows us to walk those difficult roads.

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    • That’s a very good point! Yes, if we allow our fear to make us paralyzed and hateful, then it’s a bad thing. But if we use our fear as a motivator to try and make the world a better place, then it can be a very good thing indeed. And I agree that my fear over my husband’s health was based on my love for him and my desire for him to be healthy and whole. (Thank goodness for the good news we got from the surgeon!) Thank you for that comment..and sorry for my delay in response, we were able to take a brief trip and I was “off the grid” for a short while. Your comments are always so insightful and supportive, and very much appreciated!

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  24. I think it’s called anxiety, Ann, and you’re absolutely right. We’re all living in a heightened state of it, and we don’t seem to know what to do with it. Living in fear of what ills tomorrow may or may not bring isn’t helpful at all. I do wish we had some type of country therapy, kind of like a class-action lawsuit, but it’s just therapy that we all can tap into for free, because we basically endured a bunch of trauma for two years and then were told to get on with life.

    Anywho, I write all of this to say…I agree. I’m also glad your husband is fine ❤

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    • Thanks, Kathy! I’m glad too. And you’re right…after living in a state of heightened fear for over two years (made worse by the political situation) we’re now just supposed to let go of that and go back to our normal lives. But that is so hard! Relationships were changed and security was lost. We need time to find our way back to trust and hope, it’s not something that is going to happen overnight. Plus, if we’re honest, there were problems in our country before Covid hit. The pandemic just made them harder to cope with, I think. All we can do is be gentle with ourselves, and each other, as we cautiously move forward.

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  25. Hi Ann. I became more of a worrier when my kids became teens. I’d keep telling myself, “nerves of steel” and that helped. It also helped to understand that almost always, everything works out fine. It is a great waste of time and life to get caught up in fear and anxiety and a challenge to keep it under control. That applies to our own personal worries and the global ones. I’m so glad your husband got a great report! 🧡Hope you have a great weekend 🙂

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    • Thanks, Barbara! I like that phrase, “nerves of steel” as it reminds us to be strong when we have to. And you’re so right that most of what we worry about never even happens…usually the real problems we don’t see coming….so what’s the point of worry? It comes far too naturally to me, but that doesn’t mean I have to give in to it!

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  26. thanks to God everything is fine with sir, my friend.
    yes I am totally agree with your perception that sometime due to fear we actually think in a negative way.

    Its very easy to say that do think positive , think positive , but we are humans and sometimes heart doesnt follow our mind and sometimes mind act like vice versa.

    anyways , nice to listen about you Ann.. love u, take care.

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    • Thank you so much!!! And you’re right, what we want to feel and what we do feel are often two different things. Thinking positive can be very hard, and all we can do is try and learn to forgive ourselves when we fall short. It’s so good to hear from you, my friend!! How are you doing????

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  27. Ann, praise be your husband’s medical report found all well and in good order. And for me this is how I deal with the fears when they bubble up inside of me. I find something to praise, some nugget of joy to focus or meditate upon and I find my Spirit begins to lift. Does it always relieve the fear completely? No, not always. But I do find it is in a more appropriate measure because I have an alternative to focus upon. Even if it is a smile from a stranger, the smell of a grandchild’s hair, the beauty of a garden, the safe delivery of a loved one’s travels. Big or small these nuggets fade the fear swirling inside. Hugs to you for sharing such a meaningful topic so many can relate to!

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    • Thank you so much, Dawn! Both for the good wishes and for the tip. I’ve tried to do that when I’m feeling sad or frustrated: look for the blessings that are in any situation, and focus on those. It usually makes me feel much better! I’ve never thought of doing that as a response to fear as well, but it makes so much sense. I’m going to try it! Thanks again for sharing your wisdom….very much appreciated!

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