Now that Halloween is almost here, it's time to put up the spooky decorations and get out the scary masks. We sure do like a good fright this time of year. Only on All Hallows' Eve do we get to have fun with fear, an emotion that plagues us throughout our lives.
As children we were afraid of imaginary things. We feared the boogeyman and the monsters that we thought lurked under our beds. As adults we find the fears become more real. We fear losing our jobs, getting sick, not having enough money to pay our bills.
Nothing to fear but fear itself? I don't know about that.
Our fears are intensified by what is happening in our world. The economy, war, natural disasters. All these very real fears can make those monsters from our childhood look like sweet little cartoon bunnies.
It's hard to not be afraid of a looming hurricane or job loss. Or being diagnosed with a scary illness like MS. I can't and would never tell anyone not to be afraid when something bad happens. I've been there. I've been scared. I still get scared. Fears are hard to get rid of, and they're made worse by uncertainty.
We worry about what will happen if we get sick or lose our jobs. Thinking about the effects that there could be on ourselves and our families is unsettling to say the least. We worry about growing older and whether we'll be able to take care of ourselves or be taken care of.
Perhaps the future is the new boogeyman.
As adults, we have to face our fears and deal with them. Sometimes we may yearn for the simpler times when all we had to do was call out for Mommy from our darkened bedroom when we thought the monsters would get us.
My strategy for dealing with fear of the future is to focus on what is happening in my life right now and how to deal with it. It's not that I don't think about the future. I just want to spend more energy on enjoying my life now. I've already been diagnosed with MS and had to stop working, and I'm still standing. I've gone through periods where I felt like I was being chased in a scary movie. The boogeyman didn't get me though.
I don't spend time thinking negative thoughts about what could happen. I know when I get another job, I could lose it and have to start all over again. I know my condition could get worse. I could scare myself silly thinking about all the bad things that could happen, and I don't want to live in fear.
Being afraid is unavoidable. We can't prevent the things that frighten us from ever happening, but letting fear take over our lives is useless and senseless.
We can only deal with things as they come. We can draw on our inner strength to deal with the scary stuff if and when it happens.
Our lives are complicated, and just getting through the often very stressful days is challenging enough without having the boogeyman chasing us. We need to lose him and try not to think the worst when things go bump in the night.