We like closure. It helps us feel more in control. However, if closure is not immediate what do we do? Frequently, we fill in the details about what this MIGHT mean. Our monkey brains work nonstop and our past experiences often fill in the unknown with fear, anxiety and negative thinking. Fear, in itself, can be a good thing. It has allowed us to evolve by signaling the need for a flight response. For instance, one could think of the letters in the word fear as standing for ‘f… everything and run’ when you feel physically threatened.
Another valid interpretation of the letters in fear could mean ‘false evidence appearing real’ when we don’t have enough information to understand the meaning behind a situation. In this circumstance your choice of interpretation is just that, your choice and your interpretation based on incomplete data. When you slow down and think more deeply about what you really don’t yet know about the circumstance you gain a sense of control and greater self confidence.
Ultimately, when additional information is supplied we usually think to ourselves, ‘Oh, that wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be.’ It might even be a good thing eventually but at the initial moment we often have a tendency to put ourselves through a boat load of stress and worry. Why?
We act consistently with beliefs about ourselves which were formed from childhood and further developed through life experiences. The problem is that we often create our own filters during moments of stress and negative experiences then use these filters to interpret the future. This is especially true if someone in our lives has been in a position that, over time, created fear or anxiety in our lives. Maybe we had a parent or boss that used intimidation or fear as a method of control. If you have experienced this it really says a lot more about their insecurities than about your own capabilities. But as you are creating your own life filters you are rarely able to internalize this point.
The good news is that once we realize that our fears often develop from either lack of information or from the negative behavior directed from others we can do something about it! When we feel fear or anxiety about future events begin to take over our thinking we have the power to slow down our thinking, exhale slowly, and remember that 99% of what we fear or worry about never comes to pass. Future events can be interpreted with fear and anxiety OR a belief in your own personal power. If you reflect upon the many things in life that you have been able to manage, accomplish and overcome, it will help you gain a renewed sense of confidence. You really can handle whatever life has in store.
Visualize the phrase ‘jumping to conclusions.’ It’s a funny image. Would you normally arrive at a conclusion about something in your life without all the needed information? Would you buy something, designed something or conclude something about someone with few facts? Probably not. Yet this is exactly what we do to ourselves when we allow fear or anxiety from previous experiences to control our interpretation of future events.
Learning to control our response to stressful or difficult circumstances is not easy. It takes practice. We may fall back, occasionally, to the ‘what ifs’ in life. That’s okay. The amount of TIME we allow ourselves to REMAIN in that state seems to determine our happiness index in life overall. Something to think about!
Have a great few days!
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