A counselor once told me to look at fear as an acronym—F-false E-evidence A-appearing R-real. It helped for a while. I realized my hyperactive imagination often caused me to arrive at conclusions before my reality had finished passing.
For instance, one of my biggest fears is the fear of flying. One week from today, I must get on a plane. It will be my first trip alone without my husband’s arm to squeeze. It is 5am as I write this, and I have already arrived at the conclusion of next week’s flight several times in my mind.
Being knowledgeable on current events often does not help a person struggling with fears. The repetitive broadcast of recent plane roof evaporation due to ageing cracks is typical food for my hungry imagination.
What can I do about my fear? Anyone who genuinely struggles with errant mental thoughts knows the ineffectiveness of the advice, “Just stop thinking about it.” However, as I have told my youngest daughter when she was afraid of the night, the concept of harnessing our mind is a bit like training a puppy dog. I might not be able to simply stop, or give no thought to the event, but I can work at rearranging my thought sequence.
One trick I learned was to postpone my worry. I tell myself I don’t need to worry quite yet. After all, my plane trip is still a week away. My feet remain comfortably connected to the earth, for now. (A side note to my Christian readers: if someone is afraid of flying, how cozy does she feel about being “caught up in the air with Jesus” when He returns? I know I will be fearless then, BUT until then…the words have a certain nervous ring to me.)
The most effective trick I use to cope with fear is my faith in God. Truthfully, I believe not a breath fills my lungs, or enters the atmosphere without His control. I imagine His big “Allstate-size” hand holding my plane. When the turbulence gets rough, I begin to sing—silently to the humans around me, but quite loud and vigorous to God. Singing takes more focus than a chanted mantra.
One of my favorite Bible characters and writers is David. He is credited with writing many songs, or Psalms, as we know them. His Psalms were about all his troubles and how he saw God. King David was a man who killed giants, yet was often afraid, and translated his fear into songs.
Fear and living. Inseparable partners of life. Try mixing in God and singing and you just might get that “puppy” to stop barking for a while.