All of us have felt that knot in our gut that signals the onset of fear. Did you know that feeling is contagious?
Sometimes we simply feel overwhelmed by the world around us, other times we find ourselves wrapped up in the anxieties flying by us on social media. Luckily, there is a way to “treat” contagious fear, and the steps are as easier than avoiding a common cold.
Take a moment to think about the most recent reasons you have felt fear lately. It is more than likely your source of fear comes from a television, social media, the web, or a downer of a chat with friends about something you saw on a television, social media, or the web.
Let’s get back to that little factoid I mentioned above: fear is contagious.
So, what does that mean? Well, simply put it means that like any other thing you can catch from others, there are simple ways to bolster your fear immune system.
For a great look at how we can “catch” fear and what we can do about it, here is one of our favorite YouTube Channels, Gross Science!
Sometimes it just takes a little science to put things back into perspective.
Okay, now that we have evidence of contagious fear, we are capable of doing something about it and even fighting back!
As Anna pointed out, we can be contagiously positive too! We just need other, more positive or interesting things to talk about. (Hint, you are in the right place for finding LOTS of things to talk about other than standard, fear-inducing news.)
In addition, there is hope out there that the media that surrounds us can change. In that study she mentioned, viral content induced feelings of AWE, anger, or anxiety. And like anything we consume, we can choose to consume only media that fulfills our sense of awe letting media outlets know we want to see a different, more balanced view of the world.
Build Immunity to Contagious Fear
Lastly, I think it’s important to rehash those three steps to building our fear immune system:
1. Create a Distraction
Recently I deleted my Facebook app from my phone.
I realized that a lot of the anxiety I felt throughout the day that distracted me or made it hard for me to do my work occurred after spending time mindlessly scrolling through my news-feed on my phone. I have been without the app for a month now and I really don’t miss it. Now, when I’m aimlessly scrolling on my phone it is through travel photos on Instagram, which is a far more beautiful pastime.
2. Project Your Own Positive Emotions
This is one I think we are all struggling with a little right now.
In conversations with other people, it is easy to fall into complaining and voicing our fears about the state of the world around us. Try this little experiment this week: have at least one conversation a day with somebody that is entirely about something positive. (Again, if you need some topics of conversation, you are in the right place, maybe start here). Next week, up your positive conversations to two per day. You’ll probably find people want to talk to you more and you’ll leave others feeling more upbeat!
3. Speak Up!
This one may seem a little more difficult, but I think it is really vital to breaking the habit of negativity it seems more and more of us are adopting.
Sometimes we all need a simple reminder to switch gears. Falling into fear patterns is so easy, it’s important we keep each other honest. So, maybe it’s a matter of saying to a loved one “Before noon let’s make sure none of our conversations are about fear,” or reserving dinner time as a place to only take about the positive or awesome things that filled our day.
One More Important Piece of the Puzzle
How much do the stories we tell ourselves feed our fears? Before we sign off today, we have one more important tip for you!
If you are a fan of TED.com, you know that some amazing talks never seem to float to the surface, simply because their titles may not sound like something that resonates with people. We discovered just such a talk and it is near the top of the list on our EWC Favorites: TED’s Best page. It contains a simple insight that we’ve used hundreds of times while building the project here at EWC.
If you’ve got 14 minutes, hop over to our article called “What Fear Can Teach Us” and you’ll find a remarkable gem from the TED stage that will be a gift. You can use the insight in both your personal life decisions and your working life!
Share Your Solutions!
There are many practical ways to build our defenses against contagious fear, and I encourage you to explore them and share what you find!
Yes, we should talk about the things that make us afraid, it is important that we address those fears, but living in fear constantly leaves us no room to look for and create solutions. Endless possibilities to solve the world’s greatest problems will not be forged when we work from a place of fear, but when we can see the world from a place of empowerment and optimism about a better, shared future.
Stay beautiful & keep laughing!
Need some topics of conversation?
If you’re trying to break the habit of only talking about the negative stuff out there, you will need some new things to talk about! Luckily, you are in the right place! We have an enormous archive to explore that spans science, to space, to art, and beyond!
For a much more fun way of exploring our archive give our Surprise Me button a try!
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