Life has a way of keeping you on your toes, doesn’t it? One moment you’re coasting along without a care in the world, and the next thing you know, you’re faced with a challenge that shakes you to your core. Maybe it’s a health scare, money problems, relationship issues, or career uncertainty. Whatever it is, it’s enough to make you feel like you’ve lost your footing.
The ground beneath you suddenly feels shaky and unstable. Your heart races, your mind spins, and a voice inside your head starts shouting, “Danger, danger!” It’s frightening, and it can rattle your confidence. The truth is, life will always be unpredictable. There will always be obstacles and setbacks.
But the good news is, you already have everything you need inside you to cope with whatever comes your way. You have inner strength and resilience that you can tap into. You can turn your fear into fuel. With the right mindset and tools, scary times don’t have to get the best of you. You’ve got this.
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Why is Life so Scary and How to Cope With It
Many things can make life scary. We may face problems that are hard or uncertain. We may also have anxiety, stress, or trauma that affects how we feel and think. It is normal and okay to be scared when life is tough.
But being scared does not mean that we have to be unhappy or lose hope. There are ways to deal with fear and find more calm and joy in our lives. Here are a few reasons:
1.Fear Is a Natural Human emotion.
Fear is a natural human emotion that helped our ancestors survive and evolve over millions of years. Even today, fear can be useful; it alerts us to potential dangers and threats. The problem is when fear starts to feel out of our control and holds us back from living freely.
You may feel fearful about certain life events like changing jobs, moving to a new city, or committing to a long-term relationship. Or you may have a more general sense of anxiety about the uncertainty and chaos in the world. Whatever the source, fear often stems from worrying about potential future outcomes rather than staying grounded in the present moment.
How to Cope
There are a few techniques you can use to ease fear and stay calm:
- Practice deep breathing. Taking slow, deep breaths helps lower your heart rate and blood pressure, releasing tension.
- Challenge anxious thoughts. Notice the thoughts that are worrying you and try to adopt a more balanced perspective. Ask yourself questions like “What evidence do I have that the worst will happen?” to help reframe thoughts more constructively.
- Focus on the present. Spend a few minutes focused on your senses—what you see, hear, smell, etc. This can help shift your mind from worrying about the uncertain future to the present moment.
- Take care of yourself. Exercise, eat healthy, engage in hobbies, and pursue social connections. Your physical and mental health have a big impact on your ability to cope with fear and anxiety. Staying in good shape will make you more resilient.
While fear may be inevitable, you have the power to manage your worries and choose to live according to your values and priorities. With regular practice of coping strategies, fear does not have to paralyze you or keep you from living a full life. You’ve got this! Stay strong and remember why life feels meaningful.
2. Our Primitive Brains See Threats Everywhere.
Have you ever felt an inexplicable sense of dread wash over you for no reason? Our primitive brains are wired to detect threats, even when there aren’t any. Most of the time, that twitch of anxiety you feel is just a false alarm.
Our Brains See Danger everywhere.
Our ancestors lived in a world full of real threats, so we evolved hypersensitive threat detection systems. The problem is that those systems can’t distinguish between the mild stressors of modern life and real dangers.
Anything unfamiliar, uncertain, or unpredictable activates our threat sensors. Did you just move to a new city or start a new job? That taps into our primal fear of the unknown. Are finances uncertain or relationships shaky? Our brains see instability as threatening.
Learn to Challenge Anxious Thoughts.
The good news is that you can train your threat detector. Start by identifying anxious thoughts and trying to adopt a more balanced perspective. Ask yourself questions like:
- What evidence do I have that the threat is real?
- What are some more likely, less frightening outcomes?
- Have I dealt with similar situations before? What happened?
- Will this matter in the long run? In 5 years, will I even remember?
Challenging anxious thoughts and avoiding catastrophizing can help reframe worries in a more realistic light. You’ll start to gain awareness of when your brain is sounding a false alarm.
Taking good care of yourself will also help you feel less vulnerable to anxiety and fear. Prioritize sleep, eat a healthy diet, and limit alcohol and caffeine. Exercise is especially helpful for releasing feel-good hormones and tension.
Spending time with others can help you feel less fearful, so connect with your support network. Do small things each day that you find meaningful or uplifting. The more you meet your basic needs and prioritize your well-being, the less scary life will feel. You’ve got this! Stay strong and be kind to yourself.
3. We Have Little Control Over Much of life.
Life can feel scary because so much of it is out of our control. No matter how much we plan and prepare, unexpected events can throw us for a loop. It’s human nature to want to control our circumstances, but the truth is, we only influence certain parts of our lives.
Our health and the health of our loved ones feel precarious. Illness and medical emergencies can arise without warning. Even with the best medical care, health issues contribute to the uncertainty and lack of control we experience. The most we can do is try to take good care of ourselves, stay up-to-date with doctor visits, and hope for the best.
Money troubles are a major source of fear and anxiety for many people. Losing a job, struggling in a business, or having investments not pan out the way we expected can damage our sense of security. We can make responsible choices, spend within our means, and save for emergencies, but there are no guarantees. The stock market, real estate values, and job markets are volatile and mostly outside of our control.
Safety and Security
Feeling unsafe in our own homes or communities also feeds into our fear of unpredictability. Crimes happen, natural disasters strike, and accidents occur every day that threaten our sense of security. While we can take normal precautions, we can never control all risks and ensure 100% safety.
At the end of the day, the only thing we have control over is our response to life’s uncertainty. Accepting our lack of control and maintaining an attitude of flexibility and openness can help alleviate fear and anxiety. Focus on controlling what we can, like living according to our values, nurturing relationships, maintaining optimism, and taking care of ourselves physically and emotionally.
The scary parts of life will still arise, but we can face them with more courage and compassion.
4. The Unknown Can Seem Terrifying.
The unknown can seem utterly terrifying. When you don’t know what’s coming next in life or what the future may hold, it’s normal to feel a bit scared and anxious.
Control What You Can.
Focus on the things within your control. Make plans and set small, achievable goals to build confidence and give yourself direction. Take care of your health, spend time with loved ones who support you, and engage in hobbies that you find meaningful. While the future is unwritten, you can steer your course each day through the choices you make.
Face Your fears.
Don’t avoid uncertainties and fears; face them head-on. The more you confront the unknown, the less scary it becomes. Start with small steps. If public speaking frightens you, join a local Toastmasters group. If change at work worries you, ask your manager for extra training or mentoring. Exposure in a controlled setting can help you feel more at ease over time.
Expect Some anxiety.
Some degree of fear and worry is normal. Don’t be too hard on yourself if you feel scared—everyone does at some point! Learn to accept uncertainty as a natural part of life. Stay focused on the present moment rather than worrying too much about what might happen. Practice self-care, connect with others, and try relaxation techniques like yoga or meditation.
While the unknown can seem quite frightening, you have the power to build your confidence from within. Take things day by day, focus on progress, not perfection, and nurture a growth mindset. With time and practice, uncertainty may feel less scary and more like an adventure. You’ve got this! The future is unwritten, so write your own story.
5. We tend to Overestimate Risks and dangers.
Life can feel scary for many reasons. Our brains are wired to detect threats, even when there are none. This tendency to overestimate risks and dangers contributes to feelings of fear and anxiety.
We Focus on the worst-case scenario.
Our minds often jump to the worst possible outcome, even if it’s unlikely. We ruminate about catastrophic “what ifs” and make mountains out of molehills. The dread of uncertainty fuels fear and anxiety.
While it’s normal to imagine potential dangers, try not to fixate on improbable worst-case scenarios. Remind yourself of the most likely outcomes, which are often more neutral or positive. Challenge anxious thoughts with facts and logic.
We Perceive Threats That Aren’t There.
Our threat detection systems can be overly sensitive. We may misinterpret normal bodily sensations, unfamiliar sounds, or movements in our environment as threatening when they pose no real danger. This tendency towards “false alarms” stirs up fear and stress.
Take a step back and evaluate the situation objectively. Ask yourself, “Is this threatening or dangerous?” If not, take some deep breaths to help your body and mind relax. Exposure to the perceived threat in a controlled setting can also help desensitize the fear response over time.
External Factors Fuel Fear
The onslaught of alarming news and social media posts, whether real or “fake news”, activates our threat detection systems and stirs fear. Even if a threat is unlikely or poses little risk to us personally, the emotional contagion of fear spreads.
Limit consumption of distressing media and social media. While staying informed is important, too much exposure to frightening information can negatively impact well-being. Make sure you also take in positive and uplifting news and social media content to balance things out.
Life will always have elements of uncertainty and risk, but much of what we fear is an exaggerated threat or danger that will likely never come to pass. Learning to challenge fearful thoughts, limit distressing media, and view situations more rationally can help make life feel less scary. The fears that remain can be faced and overcome through courage and action.
6. The Media Plays on Our Fears.
The media, both social and mainstream, frequently publishes attention-grabbing headlines and stories that play on our deepest fears and insecurities. This constant barrage of frightening information, whether real or exaggerated, takes a psychological toll and contributes to the feeling that the world is a scary place.
Fear Mongering for Clicks
Media companies know that fear and outrage drive high engagement, shares, and clicks. So they actively look for and promote stories that will provoke those emotions in readers. While some scary news stories are important to report, many are overblown or designed more to generate traffic than inform the public.
The nonstop consumption of frightening media, even if it’s not personally relevant, activates our body’s fear responses and stress hormones, leaving us feeling on edge.
Social Media Echo Chambers
On social media, people tend to follow and engage with those who share their beliefs and values. So if someone already has an anxious mindset or worries a lot about certain issues, their social media feeds will reflect and amplify those fears. They’ll see an endless stream of distressing news stories, opinions, and memes on the topics that already make them most fearful and anxious.
These kinds of echo chambers, filled with frightening and exaggerated information, give the impression that threats are more imminent and extreme than they are.
To cope with a media landscape poised to play on your fears, be selective about what news sources and social media accounts you follow. Seek out balanced and fact-based news reporting. Limit consumption of outlets that rely on hype and fear-mongering.
Be skeptical of alarming headlines and social media posts, and fact-check anything that provokes a strong emotional reaction before believing and sharing it. While awareness of real risks and threats is important, make sure the information you consume every day is not disproportionately fear-based. Your mental health and sense of safety in the world will thank you.
7. Feeling Vulnerable Makes Fear Feel Worse.
Feeling vulnerable is human, but it can intensify feelings of fear and anxiety. When you feel exposed or helpless, your fear response kicks into high gear. Your body mistakes vulnerability for physical danger, flooding you with adrenaline and stress hormones like cortisol.
You feel trapped.
When you feel vulnerable, your fear convinces you that the threat is inescapable. Your mind races to find solutions but comes up empty-handed, leaving you feeling trapped. Recognize that this is an illusion; there are always options and paths forward, even if you can’t see them yet. Take a few deep breaths to help yourself feel more grounded and in control.
Your confidence crumbles.
Feeling vulnerable also shakes your self-confidence and self-esteem. You start to doubt yourself and your ability to handle challenges. But remember, vulnerability is often short-lived. Your competence and strength will return once the situation passes. Focus on your abilities and past successes to maintain perspective.
You catastrophize the future.
Your fearful mind will conjure up worst-case scenarios about what might happen. It convinces you that the future is bleak when, in reality, the vulnerability will likely pass and things will improve. Challenge catastrophic thoughts by looking at the situation rationally. Ask yourself questions like, “What evidence do I have that the worst will happen?” and “What are other, more likely outcomes?” Replace irrational fears with more balanced thoughts.
The bottom line is that feeling vulnerable is an inevitable part of life, but it doesn’t have to be scary. Recognizing when you feel vulnerable and addressing the root causes of your fear and anxiety can help you feel more at ease.
Connecting to your inner strength, maintaining a balanced perspective on the situation, and taking care of yourself physically and emotionally will allow you to ride the waves of vulnerability with courage and grace. You’ve got this!
8. Our Imaginations Can Run Wild.
Our imaginations have a remarkable ability to take hold of our thoughts and lead us down a rabbit hole of fear and uncertainty. When we feel vulnerable, our minds can run wild with all sorts of worst-case scenarios, amplifying our fears and anxieties. It’s important to recognize the influence our imagination has over our emotions and take steps to regain control.
First and foremost, it’s essential to acknowledge that our imagination plays a significant role in how we perceive and react to fear. By recognizing this, we can begin to separate irrational thoughts from reality. Remind yourself that just because you imagine something doesn’t make it true or inevitable.
Challenge the Imagined Scenarios
When your imagination starts conjuring up frightening scenarios, challenge it with rational thinking. Ask yourself, “What evidence do I have that this imagined outcome will not be true?” Often, you’ll find that your fears are based on assumptions rather than facts. Consider alternative, more likely outcomes that are less catastrophic. By reframing your thoughts, you can gain a more balanced perspective.
Remember, while our imaginations can lead us astray, we have the power to harness them for positive outcomes. By acknowledging the role of imagination,
How to Feel Less Afraid and More at Ease
Feeling fearful and anxious is a normal part of life. Our minds are wired to perceive threats to keep us safe. But for many of us, this mechanism is overly sensitive, making life feel scary and uncertain. The good news is that there are some effective techniques you can use to feel less afraid and more at ease.
1. Challenge Anxious Thoughts
Our thoughts strongly influence our feelings. When you notice scary thoughts, challenge them with more balanced and realistic thinking. Ask yourself questions like:
- What evidence do I have that the worst will happen?
- What are other, more likely outcomes?
- What are the odds of my fear coming true?
- How would I advise a friend in this situation?
2. Practice Self-Care
Take good care of yourself by maintaining a routine, eating healthy, and exercising. Engage in relaxing activities like yoga, meditation, or deep breathing to calm your body and mind. Getting enough sleep is also vital for regulating emotions and coping with anxiety or fear.
3. Face Your Fears gradually.
Avoiding fearful situations often makes anxiety worse over time. Take small steps to gradually expose yourself to the things that scare you at a pace you can handle. This helps desensitize the fear response and builds your confidence. Start with the less frightening parts of the situation and work your way up to the more challenging aspects.
4. Connect With others.
Talk to people who support and care about you. Call a friend or family member, or see a therapist. Sharing your fears and feelings can help lessen their intensity and give you a more balanced perspective. Let others reassure you and provide encouragement. We are social beings, so connection is key.
5. Practice Mindfulness and Grounding techniques.
To prevent your imagination from spiraling out of control, practice mindfulness and grounding techniques. Take a few moments to focus on your breath, bringing yourself back to the present moment. Engaging your senses can also be helpful. Notice the sights, sounds, and physical sensations around you. By grounding yourself in the present, you can tame your imagination and reduce fear’s grip on your mind.
6. Seek Support
When fear takes hold, it can be helpful to seek support and connection from others. Talk to a trusted friend or family member about your fears and worries. Sharing your concerns with someone who understands them can provide a fresh perspective and reassurance. Remember, you are not alone in your fears. Reach out to support networks or online communities where you can find empathy and understanding.
7. Cultivate Self-Compassion
Lastly, be kind to yourself as you navigate through moments of vulnerability and fear. Remind yourself that it’s normal to feel afraid and that you are doing your best. Treat yourself with compassion and understanding, just as you would a close friend facing a similar situation. Practice self-care, engage in activities that bring you joy, and prioritize your well-being.
Do small things each day that boost your sense of control and competence. Set minor goals and achieve them. Help someone else. Listen to empowering music. While life may feel uncertain, focus on the things you can influence. Taking constructive action builds resilience and optimism.
With regular practice of these techniques, scary feelings will become less overwhelming. You’ll develop confidence in your ability to cope and feel safer moving through the world. Life’s uncertainty may not change, but your relationship with it can.
- When You Feel Purposeless and Fear You’re Wasting Time By Lori Deschene from Tiny Buddha
- A Reason To Stop Worrying – Watch This Whenever You’re Stressed Or Anxious
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