Okay, okay, you’re tired of all the do’s and don’ts about what to eat. One week coffee is bad for you, the next “they” are saying two cups a day will help avoid dementia. Red wine is good…but not too much…or maybe only on Sundays. And what’s the deal with kale? Or whatever. All this advice leads us to consume large quantities of the one thing we really do not need to be eating: FEAR.
There’s a lot of “information” out there about how eating this will stave off some awful illness and about how eating that other thing will trigger something terrible. Such advice is everywhere and often in contradiction to other advice. So you can’t do all of it (and who in the world really wants to?) Still, “they” say this is important. We want to be safe, to avoid the horrible “maybe” mentioned. So instead of acting on our own behalf, we worry. Worry is just another word for being afraid (passively). Have another helping of fear, my dear!
Our current culture is very good at fretting about damn near everything. What if I take that job, and then there’s a lay-off? What if I say the wrong thing, and I get a reputation for being policially incorrect? What if the incoming Presidential adminstration is as terrible as my favorite news site says it will be? Oh so much can go wrong.
And it may. But that’s not the biggest problem here. When we take this stuff in and let it define how we live, life becomes a prison cell. There will always be something dangerous that might hurt us. Trying to avoid all of it is like trying to avoid breathing nitrogen–which is a normal and major component of air–but not what we need to live on. We don’t use the nitrogen but it doesn’t harm us if we are doing the natural thing–breathing it back out. Same deal with fear. It’s out there, and we need to notice it. Then the natural thing is to let it go. When we worry instead, we hold it. And it shackles and weakens us.
Life is dangerous. Standing there paralyzed with fear is not going to change that. All it does is remove the chance to live happy and free.
It’s not just the nutrition experts force-feeding us this bad stuff. We get far more information about the “dangers” inherent in being alive than has ever been the case before. We have access to massive amounts of information from a wide array of sources on devices we can use 24/7. The message of “Be afraid” comes through loud and clear–and often.
Even worse, those who want us as potential customers–for them or their advertisers– will hype that “news” so it becomes even more terrifying. This is NOT good for any one of us. (It may, however, be very good for business.)
And it’s not the natural way for us to feel fear either. When there is a real and present danger, fear is an ally. Fight or flight–DO something. All this “informational fear” isn’t like that. When we are encouraged to be afraid of things that might happen, we move to a situation that denies any chance to effectively eliminate the fear by acting on it. The possible terrible thing has not happened. All you can do is worry that it might. We take the fear in and hold it. Some day we may learn that doing that is the leading cause of heart attacks… Fear generates stress. We know stress messes us up a lot physically.
So, instead of actually eating and holding all that fear, we might be better off with something like the following:
- Avoid clicking on all the sensationalized headlines about whatever thing to avoid, remove, etc.
- Ask yourself if whatever advice you just read feels right to you. Intuition is one of the best fear interceptors going.
- Can you reasonably mitigate what they have said might go wrong? If so, do that. If not, FORGET ABOUT IT.
Repeat after me: I will not eat fear.