Written by: Jorinde Berben
Image credit: Pixabay.com
Few emotions can have such a big impact on me as fear, and few can sneak in as, well, sneakily. I often won’t notice I’m afraid of something, until I’ve long acted on my fear, making up stories that have little to do with the thing I’m actually afraid of.
Take the upcoming school year that’s about to start one week from now. We’ve been given the thumbs up to start with 100% in-class teaching, though there will be plenty of Covid measures in the classroom, such as masks, disinfectant, open windows wherever possible, and… the teachers who will adjust their style of teaching. This means that we have to adapt excercises in our courses that are now geared toward getting students up and moving to interact with each other. We’ll have to keep them seated, and at a distance, and yet engage them and let them speak and listen to each other as much as possible.
This situation causes some anxiety. I’m unsure how things will develop. I’m unsure about my abilities to teach in this kind of environment. And underneath that, I’m still worried about catching this illness as people still get infected every day. I worry about my parents too.
This fear is surfacing now, and, in and of itself, the impact may be relatively easy to deal with: I can find reassurances, I can talk to my colleagues about how they will do things, I can find comfort in the fact that this is new to everyone, not just me. Even if the fear won’t leave altogether, it will become manageable.
But, this fear has not travelled solo. It’s not one single fear that pops up, it has brought its friends. As my stress levels and anxiety in one situation rise, so does all of my other anxiety. I have a harder time dealing with issues surrounding my kids. My fear of commitment decides to kick things up a notch. I find myself less comfortable in new situations in which I can’t fully predict what will happen (such as the contractor who came over to measure our windows today. Normally something I wouldn’t think about twice, today I spent most of the morning fussing over it.)
When one thing causes anxiety, everything else that has caused it before, comes to the surface as well.
So fear brings more fear, but it also brings anger. Anger is the great protector of fear. It’ll help you build that great wall around yourself to protect you when you’ve somehow subconsciously convinced yourself you need protection. Fear and anger are amazing friends… of one another, that is. They are not, however, friendly to me. They do not make things easier, on the contrary. My subconscious may be trying to protect me, but all it does is go into the familiar which, in my case, means ‘doing it all alone’ once again. And I know where that road leads.
I haven’t quite found a way to surf this wave yet instead of having it wash over me. It usually takes until things calm down, until the situation stabilizes, for the anxiety to subside. But I don’t really want to wait around for that each time. It can take a long time as well, in which I can’t really feel happy, and that’s a shame.
For now, I’m content to recognize that one fear may not be there because it got triggered itself, but rather because it was triggered by other fear. Realising that allows me to let go of looking for answers or solutions where none are present. Perhaps I don’t really have issues with my children, but my work is impacting my stress levels. Maybe I’m more anxious about my house renovations than about my partner who’s helping me with them. Asking myself those questions puts things in perspective and helps me release some of that fear that’s just along for the ride.
What do you do when you feel anxious? How do you cope with fear?
I’d welcome any tips!