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Back to Center: How can I stop fear from controlling my every thought and ruining my dreams?

Posted by Sarah Perron, Certified Coach

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Tue, Feb 15, 2022

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00:21 AM

AFLDS advice columnist Sarah Perron provides perspectives for personal realignment and empowered living in the COVID era

Back to Center: How can I stop fear from controlling my every thought and ruining my dreams?

The “Back to Center” advice column provides perspectives for personal realignment and empowered living in the COVID era. Sarah encourages you to reach out to her with requests for advice about self-development and emotional & mental well-being in these complicated times. Please send your questions to advice@aflds.org. Looking forward to hearing from you!

For all other inquiries, please direct your questions to info@aflds.org.

 

I’ve been working mostly from home for many months now due to COVID. I really miss going into the office and having that separation between work and home. My boss and co-workers seem to think I’m constantly available and call or email with work-related matters well into the evening hours (my family is not happy about it). How can I set up better boundaries? 

It’s one thing to work from home if it’s something you want and have chosen to do. It’s another thing to be forced into it, as you have been by COVID restrictions – that’s not easy. Working from home can pose many challenges, but none of them are insurmountable. Let’s set you up for success!

First, it’s important to create a physical sense of separation between your work hours and home life as much possible. If you have a separate office room in your home, try to use that room only for working. When you’re done for the day, shut everything down, close the door, and do not reenter until the next day.

If your desk is in a room where other home activities take place, what could you do to create some kind of separation there? Maybe you’d like to try putting up a divider or curtains around your desk to create an “office.” That way, once you step away from work, you can’t see that computer sitting in the corner of the room, calling you to come back for just fifteen more minutes. The physical division will have the psychological effect of giving you the feeling that you’ve been in a different place, and now you’ve left it to return home. 

There are other activities you can use as signals for yourself that the work day has ended and it’s time to transition into your home life – change your clothes, go out for a walk, take a shower…anything that can help you make that physical and mental break from the rest of your day. 

Now, let’s talk about phones for a moment. Unless you have a separate phone for work, your work calls and emails mingle with all your personal calls and messages. How can you create a separation there? What would it be like to take a break from your phone in general in the evenings, at least for a short period of time? It sounds like your family would love to have more of your attention. Maybe you could challenge your spouse and any other phone owners in the house to do the same and make it special phone-free family time.

Lastly, it sounds like a conversation with your boss and coworkers is needed. Express the difficult feeling you’re experiencing of needing to be “constantly available,” and the effect their evening communications are having on your family life and need for separation. Be clear with them about the hours you’d like to devote to work, and the hours you need to put your undivided attention elsewhere. If your boss and coworkers struggle with what you propose, due to the specific demands of your job, work together to see if there’s a way to compromise and meet in the middle. 

You deserve to have uninterrupted time away from work to focus on your family and yourself. May the boundaries and practices you set up for yourself create the happy balance you’re seeking!

****

The man I love and desire to spend the rest of my life with believes whatever Fox News tells him to think. I can appreciate the fact that we think differently. However, I am afraid of my expectations. 

I share with him common sense (in my opinion) information, [but he seems unable to take it in]. I am having trouble accepting this…I am considering the fact that it's entirely possible that he may not get to be my life partner. Could you possibly help me with my own cognitive dissonance, thinking I might one day reach him? Could you help me see this from a different perspective? 

Thank you for your question. It’s a really difficult thing to be on an entirely different page from someone you love about an important issue. And this isn’t just “someone” – you believe he is the one! I love your desire to see this from a different perspective; let’s see if we can help you make a shift here.

It sounds like the overall picture is that you love this man, and you hope to spend the rest of your life with him. But you are having trouble with the fact that when you try to share information about COVID that runs counter to what he’s taking in from the news, he is unreceptive. I can hear how much that frustrates you, and how much you want to “reach him” with what you believe is a more common-sense approach. 

Let’s go “worst case scenario” for a moment: What happens if he never comes around to your point of view on this topic, remaining totally unreceptive? What would that mean for your relationship long-term? Is the COVID issue a make-or-break one for you? Could you still share your life with him?

And what happens if other issues come up where you don’t see eye-to-eye, and you feel he cannot process your perspective? If it hasn’t happened yet, it is highly likely to at some point. That is just the nature of sharing your life so closely with another person.

Is your commitment to being with this man strong enough to weather the times when you will not agree or connect? Do you love him enough to accept him fully for who he is, both for the things that you’re drawn to about him, and the things that you find frustrating and hard to understand?

You said in your question that you are “afraid of your expectations.” That’s a very profound insight you’ve had about yourself. Expectations are like rules we’ve made for another person that they probably didn’t agree to and may not even know about, but we expect them to follow nonetheless. They create a layer over top of a relationship that can twist the reality of the goodness that is actually taking place between us and the other person. 

What would it be like to release your expectations of him? Maybe he also has expectations of you that you’d like him to drop. See if you can have a conversation with him about expectations in your relationship, making space for both of you to share. 

Whether this man “gets to be your life partner” or not is entirely up to you and him. You don’t have to let any external world events or forces decide that for you. If the two of you want to be together for life, nothing is going to stop you but you. Wishing you all the best as you seek to deepen and strengthen your relationship!

****

I am in my mid-forties and have quit my job to attend a self-paced at-home program with a university from which I’ll receive several certifications in the holistic wellness and nutrition field, pairing it with herbs and aromatherapy. I’ve always worked for corporations, and here I am taking a leap of faith, along with my personal experience and education, hoping to step out and help others take back control of their own health in today’s world of uncertainty. How do I leverage such a move without allowing fear to control my every thought and make this dream come true?

I love this leap of faith you are taking! You are doing an amazing thing by following your passion and preparing to use it to help others in today’s incredibly challenging times! It’s very exciting, but I hear that there is also a lot of fear present within you, so let’s meet it head on.

I have some great (and potentially surprising) news for you: It’s good that you feel afraid right now.

It’s true! Your fear is a signal that you are moving outside of your comfort zone, expanding yourself. You are stepping out of what you have always known and are taking that leap of faith closer to your passion and true mission in life. If you didn’t feel fear, it would mean you were staying in a place that wasn’t challenging you to grow. 

So, what do you do with this fear? I know it’s no fun to feel afraid, but I want you to try to welcome the fear, because it’s actually there to help you. Don’t try to push it away; acknowledge its presence. You can say within yourself, “Hello Fear, I see you there. Thanks for coming around to let me know I’m on the right track!” And then, walk toward the fear by getting into action – do another assignment in your study program, learn a new piece of information, connect with someone in the field whom you’ve been wanting to talk with…anything that keeps you growing and expanding in the direction you want to go. Action dissolves fear.

Another highly effective practice is to write down your fears. Do it every day and get as specific as you can about what you are afraid of. Simply getting the fears out of your inner world and into the light of day weakens them. It becomes easier to see their illegitimacy, and to release them and move forward. 

When we make choices in life that cause us to live in alignment with our personal missions and passions, fear is sure to show up. The key is to know that it’s not the enemy; if you harness it, rather than giving into it, that fear can propel you to new levels of self-expansion and growth. You are right there, stepping into your dream! Take fear’s hand and walk forward. May you have abundant success!

****

I just turned 67, my husband is 76, neither of us is vaccinated.  I am morbidly obese, diabetic and smoke. My husband has COPD. I just need to know whether masks work or not. I do not trust the CDC, Dr. Faucci or even my doctor. I feel safer with the mask on when I do go out which is not often. My husband only wears his mask because I have asked him to when he goes shopping. Can you give us an opinion on what to do?

I appreciate your desire to know what’s true, when so many people are just doing what they’re told these days, no questions asked! I hope this response will be helpful to you. 

It seems to me like you might already know the answer to your question about the effectiveness of masks. You said yourself that you don’t trust the advice of mainstream medical authorities. I would also venture to guess that you’re probably observing what’s going on around you, that many people who wear masks religiously are still getting sick. 

And yet…there’s this little “What if?” question going on inside of you. What if there’s a chance that wearing the mask when you go out is protecting you, preventing you from getting sick and possibly developing complications with the health conditions you mentioned? The mask creates a feeling of safety for you, even though you’re not sure it’s actually effective. You’re experiencing a dissonance between what you believe and what you feel.

So, let’s leave masks out of it for the moment. If what you really want is to feel safe, what are some other ways you could create more safety for yourself that you can have full confidence in? How could you be safer, instead of just feeling safer? What habits could you form or work to break that would benefit you? Is it possible to make lifestyle changes such as ordering groceries online for delivery, so you don’t have to brave the germs in the store? How could you get more fresh air on a regular basis (something I think we all need desperately!)?...

I believe you’ve got the answer; trust your intuition and what you see around you. Find ways to make choices that will make you safer and healthier from the inside out in ways that a little paper mask never could. This may be your moment – a prime opportunity for you to take action and change your life in ways that will far outlast COVID. Wishing you abundant safety, health, and well-being!

 

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Sarah encourages you to reach out to her with requests for advice! Please send your questions to advice@aflds.org

Sarah Perron is a Certified Transformational Life Coach. Her passion is to help people create a powerful vision for their lives, identify and eliminate anything that holds them back, and step into their own unique greatness and mission in the world. She believes deeply in the power of coaching to bring fresh perspectives, ideas, and motivation to anyone who wants to thrive in life. Sarah works with clients one-on-one and in group coaching programs and presents exciting workshops on self-development topics. You can follow her on her YouTube channel Find Your Fire.

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