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FearandtheStoriesWeTellOurselves

Fear and the Stories We Tell Ourselves

Recent polling shows that 74.5% of Americans are “afraid or very afraid” of government corruption. But how many of us are taking positive action to effect change versus allowing ourselves to be crippled by that fear? What steps can we take to move beyond fear and shift ourselves back into proactivity?

Overwhelmed by Fear? Change Your Story.

Allowing ourselves to be overwhelmed by fear can often lead to stagnation, inaction, and perpetual stress. However, much of our fear stems from the stories we tell ourselves — stories we that we then make “true” in our minds, allowing them to block us from moving forward with positive action steps.

Our emotional responses are triggered by the stories we tell ourselves about any given situation — in other words, the meanings we attach. It is what we tell ourselves about a given scenario that has the greatest bearing on our reactions and feelings. We may not be able to change what is happening in our external world, but we can change what is happening internally to create more emotional balance.

For example, my friend Laurie recently shared that she wakes up with “morning frights.” She is worried our rights are being eroded by those in power. To help combat her anxiety, she decided that she would join a group of like-minded local women with whom she could talk and share her thoughts and feelings. Laurie says, “Sometimes we all need support from others. Just expressing my fear and knowing I have support helps calm me down.”

As another example, after Trump ordered the bombing of a Syrian air base in April 2017, my friend and coauthor Donna and I were both overcome with anger and confusion. Donna initially told herself the story that the Syrian situation meant we would face a world war and possible nuclear annihilation. She took stock and, although still highly concerned, pulled herself together by acknowledging that Trump has experienced and knowledgeable national security advisors surrounding him. While she may not have agreed with them all politically, she trusted that they were voices of reason. She chose to put her faith in them, and doing so allowed her to feel calmer and opened the door for focus and action to return.

Next time you turn on the news and hear an upsetting segment, I invite you to consider changing your story. Try this exercise:

Recognize and acknowledge any feelings of fear. Hint: You may have to look underneath your anger!

Ask yourself, what is it about this news that is so upsetting? What do you believe to be “true” about it that feels threatening to you?

Consider that what you believe about this news segment is your personal story about it. How could you shift your story to include more elements that would help you feel less afraid? (Use the examples above as inspiration.)

Overwhelm provides us an opportunity to bring ourselves into greater personal integrity, but be careful not to use it — or any emotion — as an excuse to tune out and shut down. Remain vigilant and prioritize listening to yourself. Living a life of integrity is the best safeguard against overwhelm.

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About Kathy: Kathy Hertz proudly calls herself a card-carrying member of The Resistance. She was recently recognized with the prestigious Point of Light Award from George H.W. Bush’s Points of Light Foundation for her work with refugees on Lesvos, Greece and is also a veteran of the Bill Clinton and John Kerry Presidential campaigns. As a certified life coach through The Ford Institute for Transformational Training, Kathy has experienced and witnessed the enormous impact that unchecked negative internal voices and beliefs can have on lives. She now brings her diverse background together with her life-coaching skills to partner with Donna Lipman and create a roadmap for surviving and thriving during these turbulent political times. Their new book is called “Beyond Resistance: Coping with the Stress of the Trump Era – An Essential Guide.” For more information, visit www.BeyondResistanceBook.com.


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Byline BIO: Kathy Hertz proudly calls herself a card-carrying member of The Resistance. She was recently recognized with the prestigious Point of Light Award from George H.W. Bush’s Points of Light Foundation for her work with refugees on Lesvos, Greece and is also a veteran of the Bill Clinton and [...]

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