There was a movie a few years ago that, full disclosure, I never saw. It starred Will Smith and his son. Even though I never saw it, I saw the previews and the trailers. There was a line that I really, really liked. He was teaching son about fear. He said….
Fear is not real. The only place that fear can exist is in our thoughts of the future. It is a product of our imagination, causing us to fear things that do not at present and may not ever exist. Do not misunderstand me, danger is very real, but fear is a choice.
How much of our anxiety is all around stories we are making up in our heads? I do not want to minimize our experiences. Our brains appropriately react to dangerous stimuli. And there are times when our brains have adapted and gone into overdrive based on very real experiences. Retraining our brains is not a simple task. But for the moment, it can be helpful to look at fear as not real. When our fear response is not overactivated, it is a gift in scary situations. When we run into the tiger in the jungle, our brain does what it needs to run really fast or maybe wrestle with the tiger. But when the tiger isn’t there, what are the thoughts causing us problems?