This is the time of year when we explore and celebrate the “scary” side of our culture. But it’s generally done in such a lighthearted way these days that it’s really not scary at all – everyone knows it’s put on for show.
Here’s a tough question: What REALLY scares you? For real?
When you delve into those thoughts, most people come up with two different categories:
- Events which give you a temporary fear in the moment.
- Larger, longer term fears which make you want to not be an adult anymore.
In the first category would be the dread you would experience around public speaking, being embarrassed by making a mistake, or losing your child in the store. In each case, you know that it’s going to be a temporary situation that you will indeed live through, despite being stressful in the moment.
The second category would include the fear of terrorist acts, discrimination, aging, and – especially in the current economy – losing your job. In each case, your dread stems from the fact that you don’t have confidence that you WILL recover from the situation, or have any way to prevent it or mitigate the consequences.
Today, I challenge you to look at some of these nightmare scenarios, asking yourself the following questions:
- Is there any way that I could reduce the likelihood of this affecting my life? (For example, to counteract age discrimination you might invest more in keeping your skills up to date, or look for career paths in which your age is more of an asset than a liability.)
- Is there any way to reduce the damage done when a negative event happens? (For instance, your savings strategy directly affects your ability to recover if you lose a job.)
- What would I do differently if the event occurred? (You might focus on different people in your life, or take some time out to re-evaluate your life goals.)
- What would happen if you took some preventative action now? (You could invest in creating an alternate career path, or work on improving your health.)
What I find is that thinking through these scary situations, and sometimes developing alternatives and preventative courses, helps to make them a lot less daunting. There’s nothing that gives you nightmares more than having a fear of something which is vague and for which you have no course of action.
You may not be able to control everything that happens to you, but putting more intention into your actions and reactions will certainly help you to sleep at night.
by Carl Dierschow