How to take charge of your internal reaction to external forces
We live in uncertain times. And with this uncertainty has come a great sense of fear – which we’ve seen already show up as hateful speech, social anxiety and an immense amount of suffering. Even something as benign as scrolling through a Facebook feed has become stressful when we are constantly met with everything that is wrong with the world. Or, more recently, a sense of distrust as to what is “real” news and what is not.
Yet living in a perpetual state of fear is fruitless. Because when we succumb to fear, we relinquish control over our emotions and over our lives. And there can be no positive change nor growth when we are allowing external forces to dictate how we feel.
When you step back and consider the nature of fear, it’s really nothing more than us worrying about how external forces could impact our lives. So rather than letting those forces control you, realize that you have the power to master your emotions, to step out of suffering and to live the life you want. Because when it comes down to it, we may not be able to control the events that happen in the world, but we do get to decide how we respond to it. No matter what chaos, what adversity comes your way, you can refuse to allow it to control your life. It’s as the great philosopher Alan Watts said, “The rule for all fear is to head straight into it. When you are sailing in a storm, you don’t let the wave hit your boat on the side. You go bow into wave, and ride it.”
This is the very difference between those that remain fearful in the face of uncertainty, while others thrive. Think about it – what is the difference between someone who views uncertainty as a gift, versus someone who sees it as an obstacle? Think of the difference between fear and faith. Both are about the future, both convey something that is unknowable, both are experiences of life, and both are built on your imagination. The only difference between the two is that fear is imagination undirected and faith is imagination that we consciously direct to create what we want in life.
When you step into uncertainty knowing that certainty isn’t just a feeling – it’s a habit you create – everything shifts. When you have faith and let go of what you can’t control and instead put all your focus into what you can make happen, you’re on the right path. Whenever you consciously focus on what you have instead of what’s missing, your mind and heart will fill up with gratitude. If you take your focus away from imagined worst-case scenarios and instead focus on serving something or someone you love or something greater than yourself, fear and suffering evaporate. If you truly connect and contribute deeply to something more than just yourself, you will find yourself thriving even in the most turbulent of times.
So how are you going to live your life? Starting today, make the decision to take back control of your emotions. Face the fear, embrace the uncertainty, and start living in a beautiful state. Because the truth is, there is no reason not to. And we cannot transcend the boundaries that we ourselves impose. But by taking back your power, you will be able to create more change, make more of a difference, and have more of an impact on others and on the world than ever before.