What if this, what if that? Oh my God, how will we handle all of this? Fear of getting the coronavirus, fear of our loved ones getting the virus, fear of the news, fear of feelings, fear of not having enough money, fear of the stock market crashing, fear of unemployment, fear of the unknown-when will this shelter in place end? Fears-the unwanted tenants in your head.
Old fears that linger… fear of not being good enough, not looking good enough, not being smart enough, not being rich enough, not being thin enough, young enough or whatever “not enoughness” we happen to find ourselves in.
For me, these fears are the unwanted tenants in my head and at times I feel like they live in a really huge building. They rattle around, complain, get clingy, unreasonable, scream, kick, bite, and drain my energy. They constantly vie for my prime real estate-peace of mind and living in the moment.
In one of my current blogs: Career Soul Searching, I related how I quit my 11 year state job because it was strangling all the life out of me (in the literal sense of course). I have been working at home for the last two months, so even though I don’t like this quarantine, I have plenty to do. But working alone provides me more time for self-reflection so I decided to deal with some of these fears head on. However, I know it will not be a one and done as life will continue to hurl its ups and downs.
My unwanted tenant – fear of money
Let me give you an example about one of my fears. Money. Will I have enough? I quit the security of a monthly paycheck and five weeks later the coronavirus hits. I was afraid that I would lose a lot of my retirement due to the stock market crashing. Then, I accidentally paid my mortgage twice and was fretting about that. I was afraid the bank wouldn’t refund my money, but I took action and called and they said they would. I was so relieved.
However, it took almost two weeks to get the money back. I’d check my account everyday and panic when it wasn’t there. I’d call the bank and the representative would tell me it takes 3-4 days, but no refund came. I called back and they said 7 to 10 days. But still no refund. I called again a few days ago and asked to talk to a supervisor who found my money. It was being held by their third party payment company that transfers money between accounts. The supervisor told them to release the funds to my account (to the rightful owner I would add).
I finally got my refund, but…first I was angry that my funds were held unnecessarily, then afraid it would happen again. Next I decided I should change banks if their third party payment company pulls that kind of stuff. Thankfully someone pointed out to me that it wasn’t so much this particular situation as a deep fear of financial insecurity. I really thought about that. And was it true. I have a lot of fears around money and around security in general.
It was also about validation that I had been heard and told the truth, peace of mind and a belief that everything would be okay.
As you see, even though I got the money and was relieved, it only lasted a few minutes because I immediately shifted my relief to anger and started the mental roller coaster once again.
Sound familiar? And I could react and I have reacted like this in the face of many perceived disasters. Those noisy tenants in my head. I need to evict them.
What to do…
When you get upset or catapult into obsessive thinking or overwhelm, you need to slow down and do a self-awareness check. What is really bothering you? Can you do anything about it? If so, what action, big or small can you take to resolve it?
In my bank example, I stopped to examine my reality and wrote down the following:
- I’m starting a blog and I will generate an income from it.
- I could always look for another job if I really need extra income.
- Although it doesn’t cover all my expenses, I receive a monthly pension.
- I am vested in the state so I get to keep my health benefits.
- I have a retirement account and even though I’ve lost money, the market should rebound after we get this virus controlled.
These are good tenants.
But if the above doesn’t work, read below for more suggestions.
When things are not so cut and dry you have to find ways to calm yourself down. You can spend time outside, either walking or just sitting. You can take 10 or 15 minutes, sit quietly and listen to some soothing music. Youtube has tons of meditation videos that you can choose from.
A few words on meditation. It is not about pushing all thoughts out of your mind. Many people scoff at meditation because of that perception. And just so you know, I threw that idea out the window a long time ago. Spending time relaxing not only calms you down, but it can give you a fresh perspective on the situation. When I meditate it not only gives me new perspectives but things I’d forgotten to do seem to pop into my head. And it happens because I’ve slowed my heart rate by relaxing, so ideas flow more freely. I also like an app called Insight Timer. It has over 30,000 meditations, all different times, ranging from a minute up to several hours. And it’s FREE! Try it!
Or if you’re more spiritual or religious minded here are some great little prayers to help calm your mind. Try taking a few deep breaths before you say them.
The Serenity Prayer
“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.
Another one from the bible that I like is (Psalm 46:10 NIV)
Be still and know that I am God.
Or you could call a friend, talk to a relative or spouse, someone that you trust. Sometimes just talking things out helps you figure out the problem.
What I have to learn over and over again, is that my frenetic worrying has never solved a situation. If I blow it up in my head it will get much bigger than it really is (usually). And when the situation does get resolved, it’s normally not the big drama I had created.
So get those noisy tenants out of your head!!
- Break the problem down (like I did in my bank example) into realistic pieces.
- Take action big or small to start resolving it.
- Meditate (check out youtube or insight timer)
- Call a trusted friend, relative, therapist, religious person, etc.
Thanks for reading! Leave a comment below or email me and share your own experiences with “fears-the unwanted tenants in your head.”
See you next Tuesday :).