From business meetings to survival scenarios to simply uncomfortable interactions with family, fear plays a strong part in how we approach our day.
But it doesn’t always play a helpful part. Fear can lead to panic, and panic is almost never a good idea to survival. It can lead to hasty decisions, unnecessary reactions, or wasted energy. Here are some pieces of advice good for maintaining composure while still recognizing danger.
Know that Fear is Normal
Too often, people feel like feeling fear in any capacity is bad. But being totally fearless can be even more dangerous. Fear is the natural response to danger. When someone is afraid, they are ready to respond to something that might harm them. Fear allows us as humans to rapidly respond to bad things. Feeling fear is both normal, and encouraged. They key is to be able to cooperate with your fear. Let it help keep you alert, but don’t let undue fear control your entirely.
The real risk factor is panic. When you panic, you don’t act rationally. While this can help in situations like fending off an attacker, it’s more often a rapid expense of energy and a huge mental stressor. Panic should be avoided whenever possible.
Observe What You’re Afraid of
More times than not, fear spawns from the unknown. Was it a strange sound in the woods? Or maybe someone you weren’t expecting to see has appeared near you. Before freaking out and attacking/running away, you need to actually know what you’re up against.
When you’re afraid, observe. Take a moment to see and hear what has you nervous. If you don’t know what you’re afraid of, then stop, observe, and decide based on that. The man suddenly behind you may have just been a bystander letting you know you dropped your wallet, not a dangerous mugger. That sound in the woods may have been a squirrel, not a bear. You won’t know until you observe.
It Hurts to be Afraid
Pain can be a terrible influence. When hurt, the pain can make it hard to be calm. It can make it easier to feel fear to things that don’t need it. And most importantly, it makes it easier for fear to evolve into panic. If you/someone else is in pain, it may be better to leave decision-making to someone else in a less affected state of mind. Otherwise, just do you’re best to remember this fact and try to stay composed before taking action.
There’s Trouble in Idle Isolation
Peace of mind is seldom found when doing nothing. Nor is it found alone. One way to stay calm and not succumb to panic is to keep busy. If it’s not physically working on a task, it can be something mental like planning out a schedule, consuming media, or even just going over ways to stay calm in your head.
This is also true when alone. It’s easy to panic when there’s no one else around to act as an emotional anchor. If possible, stay with someone else during stressful/survival scenarios. You can hold each other accountable and keep each other composed when needed
It’s even worse when both alone AND bored. Fortunately, an idle mind can be helped, solitude can’t. Try and keep all of this in mind the next time you’re in a fearful scenario.