Wednesday, June 29, 2011

'I'm alright right now'

Dr. Rick Hanson writes a thoughtful article in Psychology Today entitled 'Overcoming Fear.' The key is to be attuned to the here and now.... Chances are, right here, right now, you're in good shape.

"The muttering of fear tells you implicitly, 'Watch out, bad things are happening you're not seeing, don't ever think you're completely OK, never let down your guard.'

But take a close look at this moment, right now. You are probably alright: No one is attacking you, you are not drowning, no bombs are falling, there is no crisis. It's not perfect, but you're OK."

Hanson sees this omnipresent fear as ingrained over the ages,

"To keep our ancestors alive, the brain evolved strong tendencies toward fear, including an ongoing internal trickle of unease. This little whisper of worry keeps you scanning your inner and outer worlds for signs of trouble....

The brain's default setting of apprehensiveness is a great way to keep a monkey looking over its shoulder for something about to pounce. But it's a crummy way to live. It wears down well-being, feeds anxiety and depression and makes people play small in life."

The solution to some of the anxiety and fear we experience is tied to this immediacy,

"You may want more money or love, or simply salt for your French fries. Or want less pain, heartache or rush hour traffic. All very reasonable. But meanwhile, underneath all the to-ing and fro-ing, you are OK. The foundation of your activities is an aliveness and an awareness that is doing fine this second.

There you are doing dishes; notice that "I'm alright right now," and perhaps even say that softly in your mind. Or you are driving: I'm alright right now. Or you're talking with someone: I'm alright right now. Or doing emails or putting a child to bed: I'm alright right now."

A related article is 'Nine Secrets of Courage: Simple steps to make you stronger than fear.'