It’s 4 a.m. and you are wide awake, worrying about all the bad things that could happen, feeling anxious, and unable to sleep. The fear you are feeling is self-imposed instead of a reaction to what is actually happening because at the present moment you are safe. There is nothing to be afraid of other than the imaginary reality that you have allowed the power of fear to create in your mind.
Sleeping at 4 a.m. is not easy when you are living in the misery of uncertainty, as many of us are with all that is happening in our external world plus our internal imagination-induced fears, We do not like the feeling of being out of control of our life and we do not like being in a position not knowing what’s going to happen next. We need to fill in the blanks. When you are awake at 4 a.m., you probably are not imagining a happy future and will likely fill in the blanks with what you fear will happen instead of what you desire to happen. You easily become trapped in a fear-driven thought cycle instead of a faith-driven cycle focused on pleasurable possibilities.
In 2020 we are faced with very real threats to our health and financial security that many of us have never experienced and never thought we would. This has been a rapid unexpected and unwanted change that we must deal with.
Fear prevents us from thinking clearly about what we can do to minimize the threat to our wellbeing.
It renders us helpless and blinds our vision to what we can do to stay healthy and keep the money flowing to keep a roof over our head and food on the table.
Although we do not like being in an undefined place between the past and the future, that is where we live. It is called the present moment. And, as you know, it is all you ever really control. If you once thought you had created a secure, controllable, and predictable life for yourself, you may be realizing that this was an illusion. There is much that is beyond our control and nothing stays the same forever.
So why not take control of the only thing you can control – the present moment — and try a little experiment the next time you are awake at 4 a.m.
Instead of filling your head with dreadful thoughts about all the bad things you believe are destined to happen to you – your feared future – try imaging what you desire – your preferred future. Allow your imagination to work for you instead of against you.
Replace those scary thoughts the moment they pop up with grateful thoughts about what you have to be thankful for instead of what there is to be afraid of.
What resources do you have available to you that fear is preventing you from seeing? What actions do you have the power to take that will minimize the risk of all those bad things you are afraid of actually happening or allow you to deal with them if they do.
Become solution-focused instead of problem-focused. Faith-focused instead of fear-focused. Anytime the scary question of “what’s going to happen to me?” pops into your head, replace it with the more powerful question of “what can I do?”
It may not be easy to do in the beginning. Thinking scary thoughts at 4 a.m. becomes a habit if repeated often enough. But again, all you really can control are the thoughts in your head at the present moment. If you replace those scary moments with happier thoughts often enough, you can develop a new habit that will pay greater dividends than the gloom and doom thinking habit you are replacing. And, if something bad does happen, you will have the strength to deal with it if you haven’t wasted all your energy worrying.
The only constant in life is that it is filled with unwanted change and unexpected events that trigger times of uncertainty and feelings of insecurity.
Try as you may control the future, all you can really do is trust that whatever happens, you will survive, you will adapt, and you may even thrive.
You have successfully traveled through periods of uncertainty in the past and you likely will in the future.
They do not last forever. And, after a while, you begin to realize that your true source of security is not a job, relationship, position, or a certain amount of money that can all disappear in the blink of an eye. Your true source of security cannot be taken away from you. It is your willingness to learn new skills, form new relationships, and explore options to create a new future when the change has redefined the future you thought was yours.
Fear is paralyzing while faith is empowering and provides the strength you never thought you could have in the moments you need it the most. You have the power to choose which it will be for you.
How well are you managing change and disruption caused by COVID-19? Listen to my interview on “The Evolutionary Power of Change and Disruption” with Gwilda Wiyaka, host of Mission Evolution Radio, and learn what you can do to feel secure in insecure times.
Over the past 30 years, Rita Burgett Martell has provided career and change management coaching to thousands of individuals across multiple industries, professions, and countries. She is the author of two books: “Change Ready: How to Transform Change Resistance to Change Readiness: A Manager’s Guide to Managing and Sustaining Change in the 21st Century Workplace” and “Defining Moments: Seizing the Power of Change to Create the Life You Want.” Connect with Rita on Twitter, Facebook, and check out her website.
Image courtesy of Paige Cody.