Yes well, we all are.
Remember that old saying: “There’s nothing to fear but fear itself”? We know it’s true, we feel it’s true, and yet there is a little voice in our heads that asks “But what if it isn’t true?” Think about how much scarier everything is now!
There isn’t a human being on the planet that hasn’t, at some point, succumbed to an irrational fear. There is no one who, at some time or another, hasn’t felt their stomach lurching over a thought that pops into their head reminding them to worry, panic and stress over an upcoming event, a past event or even something they are engaged in at that very moment.
Fear isn’t a bad thing. Adrenaline coursing through your body can be extremely useful, even life-preserving. Fleeing an attacker – you can run faster on adrenaline; pulling a person from the path of impending disaster – you are stronger on adrenaline; confronting danger – you can feel braver on adrenaline. Adrenaline is a very useful chemical that enables us to deal with situations that threaten us physically. But in our fast paced, technology driven, society where we have health and safety laws coming out of our ears, where we have systems in place to protect and keep us safe, how useful is it to be at the whim of this powerful hormone?
When we feel that sudden onrush of fear and as our heart rate picks up, our breathing becomes faster and faster, oxygen is being pumped around the body - we are ready for fight or flight. But what happens when we aren’t running or fighting, and when we perceive constant danger?
We all know that along with the positive effects of adrenaline there are the negative effects: the shaking, sweaty palms, upset digestive system are all a result of this chemical being in our system and having nowhere to go. A constant state of physical agitation can cause temporary and lasting damaging effects. When the body stays in this heightened state for long periods of time, the body's immune system begins to wear down. Infections and illnesses such as colds are hard to fight off. The risk of major events such as heart attack dramatically increases. Basically, your body becomes exhausted.
Can we do anything about this, or are we at the mercy of our physiology? Yes, we can do something. In fact we can do many things that will have a positive effect on our short-term and long-term wellbeing:
- Identify exactly what it is that is causing the fear, anxiety or stress (let’s call it FAS) in the first place. Sometimes we get confused and start associating other events or people to an already wonky system in our minds. Is it the FAS of work, or is it your relationship with your boss? Is it your relationship with your boss, or is it the way you are communicating? The more specific we can be the more can we start to reduce the problem and also pinpoint the issue. This in turn makes it a lot easier to tackle.
- Take action to have a positive impact on the thing that is triggering the FAS. If you have decided that it all stems from the communication issues you have with your boss, then try and figure out how you could improve the situation. What do you personally have control over that would positively affect the situation? Maybe you could email for a while rather than have face-to-face meetings. By deciding to take action you are empowering yourself as well as possibly finding a solution to a problem.
- Work out who could help you, call in support. Things are less scary when you don’t feel alone and isolated. You will also find that you get a fresh perspective on the situation; sometimes others will be able to broaden your perspective of the situation or offer up advice that you hadn’t thought of.
- Relax. Put some things in place in your life that enable you to relax. If your communication with your boss at work is causing some FAS in your life then refuse to allow it to spill over into the time you are not at work. You need to train your body and mind to take time out, give it permission to chill out for the weekend, go to a spa, spend time with friends, whatever relaxation means to you. You will be thankful for time off from FAS and it also allows an opportunity for a fresh perspective when you return to the source of the problem. You cannot think straight when you are in a state of FAS.
- Get some perspective. The world really is a pale blue dot floating around in the universe. Your job really is one of millions. Your boss is only one of the many people in your life. Count your blessings and remember that millions of people would give so much to be in your position. If you are having problems with communicating with your boss, this means you are one of the fortunate ones that have a job, right?
- Take responsibility. Sounds harsh but while it may be comforting to stay attached to the thought that it’s all your boss’s fault because they are a mean person, then you are denying your responsibility in the situation. When you opt out you hand over your power to everyone else. If you believe that all your happiness depends on your mean boss then you become powerless to change the situation. Don’t sign yourself over, be honest and tackle the stuff that belongs to you and you will start an amazing journey of self-discovery.
- Decide when enough is enough. Know that it is OK to let go of some things. Sometimes we need to remove ourselves from negative people and situations and move towards more positivity in order to grow and thrive. Too many people just survive life rather than live it.