It is the snowy season for us in the Upper Midwest, and boy do I wish I was back home in DC! I am a transplant of 30 + years from my beloved hometown of DC and every winter it is the same thing. I wait for the giant killer snowflake I know is out there with my name on it!
Instead of watching the magical show that is falling snow, I am obsessively watching the Weather Channel to see if there will be snow on the road, if I can drive without being caught in a snow storm, and for me a snow storm is anything from a light dusting to a full on blizzard! I am paranoid about snow. In DC spring and fall are warm, while winter is cool with annual snowfall averaging 14.7 inches (37 cm) with winter temperatures average around 38 °F (3.3 °C) from mid-December to mid-February; whereas in Lansing Michigan, winters can be much colder with moderate to heavy snowfall, and January temperatures can be 21.6 °F (−5.8 °C); and may drop well below 0 °F (−18 °C). Not the kind of weather a Southern Belle, (I know Virginia and beyond - you don't consider Maryland/DC as Southern - well too bad, I do), finds suits her sensibilities!
What I have allowed winter/snow to do to me is allow me to wallow in my fear. As I have grown more accustomed to the snow and find driving situations where I can drive, and am learning how to deal with those situations I find uncomfortable driving, my fear reduces. It is still with me and I have spent my life looking for solutions to it. I have never taken a job that wasn't on a bus route, or that I could arrange appointment times. I have always been within walking distance of a job. I have never taken a job outside of Lansing, for fear of driving on a snowy highway; believe you do not want to be behind me when I drive! Fear has held me bound and in some ways limited my life.
Fear is a very tricky emotion: There is appropriate fear, avoidable fear and limiting fear. We do need fear, in its most contained fear keeps us alert and aware of our situations; but it does have a way of taking over. Why is that? Looking at when fear becomes over whelming or limiting, there seems to be a lack of trust: Trust of abilities, trust of surroundings, trust of other, or trust of self. There is an unpredictable nature to fear that no-one likes. It is the what will happen next that we can't explain, or learn. Its the how will they react that we can't know. There is the greater what if that we play with ourselves, and when we do we often focus on the negative than the positive of the situation. When we are in the grips of limiting fear we give away our personal power to those things we can not control. In this situation it is best to learn techniques and gain know-how to conquer the fear. With avoidable fear we often give our self esteem to others we believe has greater power or knowledge than we posses; we are no longer in charge of what happens to us, someone else is and that creates a level of uncertainty that we can not tolerate. We may use fear to keep us from doing something; with this we become manipulative and it may work for a while until we met resistance, and must begin to do the thing we fear. We may hid from something we feel is unpleasant, disturbing uncomfortable. While we may get momentary relief we are still going to be confronted with the fear again at some time in the future.
Fear does not create strength, it creates anxiety. Anxiety is the outcome of fearing. It is the master that keeps in fear. Anxiety will tell us anything, make us feel anything that will keep us fearful. It does this because our minds now assume that the fear and anxiety are necessary for us to live full lives. If we allow ourselves to become master by our own fear than we loss all personal power. You may know someone who has done just that, or you may be a fan of TV shows like Hoarders; these are examples of lost personal power, self knowledge and self esteem.
To help us all transform and tame fear we should:
- Identify the source of fear, worry, and anxiety. Truly look at what you fear, give it a name, write it down; put down as mush evidence for why you have this fear/anxiety as you can and remember. When did it begin, what was happening in your life when this started. At first how did it help? When did that help stop, what became of you when it did stop?
- Transform fearful thoughts into peaceful confidence. Looking back on the evidence what statements can you rephrase? Can you find someone who will help you talk out the process, help you see when fear has taken you? Can you identify those things that even in the fear are strengths you process, and then work on using those strengths?
- Discover specific strategies for overcoming anxiety. Like my driving in the snow are there things that you can learn that will help? Dividing the fear up into smaller manageable tasks: the reconditioning response, facing a bit of you fear until you feel comfortable then adding a new aspect.
Finally know that you are in control and in charge of your thoughts. God does not want us to live in fear:
For We, As Mothers, Are Not Given A Spirit Of Fear 2 Tim 1:7