You have more control than you think
Even before the shooting in San Bernadino and terrorist attacks in Paris, Beirut and Kenya, were you wondering how to keep yourself and your family safe? It’s often something we ask others — usually politicians — to take care of for us, which can, in turn, actually magnify our sense of powerlessness. It’s as if we think personal safety is outside our control.
While some things are beyond our influence, feeling safe begins from within. Appropriate fear is wired into our systems, inherited from our ancestors who had large animals of prey stalking them as food.
While governments do what they can, there are ways to tame gripping fear — actions that are an inside job. Our lives reflect our beliefs, thoughts, and behaviors. constant fear and baseless worrying are not among the most life-affirming choices we can make.
The poet Hafiz says:
Fear is the cheapest room in the house. I’d like to see you living in better conditions.
Follow these steps to find the courage to feel safe and secure in what seems to be an ever-changing, violent world:
1. Face Your Fears Head On
The chances are very, very slim that terrorists will take your life. I live in the U.S. where, according to an article written by Scott Shane of The New York Times, far more deaths from terrorist acts occur at the hands of our own citizens than from Jihadists.
Have the media incited you to believe there is a war on cops? NPR debunks that myth, too. Do your research and get some facts about your specific fears from credible news sources.
Perhaps the opposite of living is not dying, but instead it’s living in constant fear. Face and name how you feel, what your thoughts are, what you believe and why. Don’t buy into a vague cloud of fear.
2. Orient Yourself to the Here and Now
It is said that whatever we focus on, we get more of, so let some of your fearful thoughts pass through, and choose to focus on better, more positive thoughts.
I like to keep a daily diversion at hand. By that I mean that I choose something each morning that I want to appreciate (trees, my eyesight, my home, a loved one) and when I want to divert my mind from fearful thoughts, I get to enjoy all the positive feelings that appreciating brings me, right here and now.
3. Live a Life that Is Full of Purpose and Strength
Vague uneasiness might show up on a regular basis wanting to paint your world a nasty shade of fear, but don’t let it. Create a life focused on living gloriously — not fear of dying. A life fully lived generates a bunch of fun, great and strong memories all strung together.
What makes you happiest? Whatever it is, do more of it. As people rapidly approach death, the thing they regret most is missing the chance at living their life fully when they had it.
4. Treat Your Body with Respect and Keep Up Healthy Habits
British chef Jamie Oliver says, “Homicide is 0.8% of deaths. Diet-related disease is over 60%, but no one f***ing talks about it.”
We don’t want to hear that a healthy diet, exercise and a healthy lifestyle (including emotions and connection) prevent the vast majority of premature deaths — that would put the pressure back on us to face and take responsibility for our own well-being. High blood pressure, smoking and high cholesterol are more likely to be implicated in the death of the average American or Brit than a terrorist of any origin. A sedentary lifestyle and low consumption of fruits and vegetables are things that most of us can control.
As we sit on the couch, watching the news, imagining invasions of terrorists, we waste time that we could be using to better our own lives, both physically and emotionally. We distract ourselves instead of focusing on the things that really are a threat to our existence (yet totally controllable), such as the deterioration of our soil, water, air and food supply.
It’s time to focus on what really matters and put less emphasis on the fear that possesses us.
This guest article originally appeared on YourTango.com: How To Feel Safe When The Violence In The World Terrifies You.