A lot is happening in the world lately: fires, storms, and deep uncertainty. With this in mind, I have been thinking about fear, as a feeling, but also fear as an acronym. I understand FEAR as False Evidence Appearing Real. Sometimes our minds lock onto fragments of information that, alone, don’t mean very much. Maybe you’re out for a walk and see a dog running around your neighborhood with no leash, and you become afraid the dog will bite you. Or maybe you call a friend who seems distant, and you worry you have done something wrong. Both are examples of False Evidence Appearing Real, as our minds tend to project the worst-case scenario into the unknown.
For most of us, the question that keeps us up at night always starts with “What if?” What if I get sick? What if I never get a better job? What if I had married a different person? While it can be useful to sit with questions like these, it is also important to pay attention to how you feel while you think. Chances are, if you are in fear, you won’t be able to think clearly anyway.
In many ways, it can be more difficult to dwell on the possibility of a positive outcome, than to dwell on the fear of a negative outcome. If you imagine that something wonderful is possible, you will also have to envision each step you will have to take to make your dream happen. Success demands motion, while fear always hinders progress. Our best selves are always most firmly rooted in the present moment.