Although fear has always existed and always will, in today’s society it seems we are particularly besieged with a perpetual fear culture – An anxiety over drive! Something I refer to as “New Age Fear”.
Over the last decade this has increasingly crept in and filtered the minds of many, causing anxiety to reach unprecedented levels, such that some schools and medics are even dishing out the pills to help kids cope! This isn’t some random observation either…
This is from seeing and working with the repercussions of a new age fear first-hand across a broad section of society. As a consultant therapist working with adults and children in private practice, NHS patients and charities, to training in collages, government sectors and private organisations in the business world; I see the emerging patterns when it comes to people, mind-set and challenges.
Although we are all individual with our own varying degrees of anxieties, root causes and so on, there is one common factor that seems to be exacerbating them all…
A “New Age Fear”. A term I use because so many aspects of modern life, including people’s personal lives, are now widely exposed and subject to scrutiny, be this through smart phones, social media, reality TV, or the general ease and speed of access to information via the internet, apps, various IT systems, satellite’s or tech toys. Essentially, this all gives rise to sensationalism, overwhelm, unrealistic expectations, future data concerns and getting drawn into the pressures of what is so often a false reality. The fast-paced, 24/7, “expect it now” technological world we live in today, not only heightens what is anyway an exceptionally fear-driven society but there’s often no switch off.
Fear is increasingly apparent in everything from politics and social expectations to advertising and marketing. Advertisers and social media culture encourage the fear of missing out, of not being rich/slim/glamorous/famous enough; politicians exploit the fear of losing money, of losing your job, lack of jobs for graduates, of terrorism, of health threats, increasing crime, trade wars and so on. Naturally, the media then manipulate thinking with fear . . . creating the perfect storm (fear and sensationalism sells!) – However, it’s all become outright bonkers, no wonder so many people are nervous wrecks paddling away under the surface…
There are (too many) many examples I can give that seem to be exacerbating (and even triggering) stress, fear and anxiety, although I’m never keen on giving these too much focus for obvious reasons, but:
Things like reality TV shows depicting perfect bodies types, glamorised celebrity professionals looking like an overnight success, ridiculously extravagant lifestyles and so on. Then there’s the constant drip feed of news and social media alerts – all of which are continually talking to the sub-conscious mind, questioning … “Are you good enough?” “Are you smart enough” “Are you funny enough?” “could you have ‘x’ wrong with you?” …
Then if that’s not enough we get hammered with “Fear of the Flu” campaign everywhere we look, Adverts telling kids what to do if an adult asks them “what’s in your pants?”, certain schools handing out “Propranolol” medication to help kids having panic attacks, disclaimers needed all over the place, fear of offending in an “overly” PC society, the misconception of “feminism” flung around and you know the rest.
On a personal note it was really telling what I saw this summer. I was sat in the park when I noticed a really cute little boy about 3 years old trailing behind his mum who was walking ahead with another baby in the pram. The reason the little boy was trailing behind is because he was toddling up to people who were sat on the grass and offering them one of his sweeties; it was adorable to see, and everyone responded affectionately. However, the second his mum realised what he was doing, she immediately went to grab him and abruptly shouted at the little boy “you must never speak to strangers!”, leaving the little fella really upset.
Now, fair enough parenting is subjective and she was well intentioned BUT, here’s the problem, there was no explanation! kids of course need to be aware that not everyone is nice and safe but with such an abrupt telling off in this context at such a pivotal age in his development, the little boy may well now grow up scared to talk to people, scared of being friendly, more introverted or just insular. All giving rise to an ever-increasing social anxiety, even socially blunted society – all fear driven.
Absolutely we need awareness of all kinds of sensitive issues, but we also have to be aware that it can’t be “the focus” or “the norm”, “expected” or “over-generalised”. Otherwise, new generations will grow up fearing everything, not to mention, seriously lack resilience and the natural resources to cope. And I suspect some people may have already noticed this has been creeping in for some time.
This constant drip-feed of fear looping round and round in our brain is presenting some big challenges. It’s mainly a subconscious under current but nonetheless it results in those chemical changes that determine our mood and ultimately lead to the feelings of background anxiety that so many people often experience without knowing why . . .
This is especially so when it comes to something like chronic fatigue syndrome (yet another manifestation that has dramatically increased amongst teenagers). Quite simply, individuals have been using up so much adrenaline being in a constant state of high alert that when (for whatever other reason) they contract a virus/infection/cold that they would ordinarily be able to ward off, the constant adrenaline pumped out (and often accompanying stress hormone cortisol) generated from such background anxiety has weakened the immune system and to such an extent that they have little left to naturally fight infections and generate enough energy needed to push through. Inevitably this physical fatigue and ill health results in psychological and emotional fatigue, and so the cycle continues without the right support.
The physical effects that any form of long-term stress and anxiety (conscious or not) has on the body are of great magnitude as they affect everything; from muscle weakness, aches, pains and impotence to increased risk of diabetes, heart attack and a compromised immune system making anyone susceptible to anything.
This isn’t about scare mongering, it’s about how the mind and body work and why people don’t often realise the REAL core reason as to why they get ill; simply stress to varying degrees!
So, it’s time we take a step back and learn a different way of thinking for different results that actually does make a positive, constructive difference so we can put a stop to this “new age fear” and its nasty cycle.
Essentially, what we focus on and get consumed with (unconsciously, sub-consciously or consciously), we attract a whole lot more of by giving it energy and therefore power:
In this case, we are only creating a lot more fear, anxiety and negative stuff.
This is quantum physics for you, the intricate and intangible workings of the universe; so whether as individuals we choose to get this concept or not, it’s still powerfully at play.
Awareness is therefore critical, so we can at least learn to re-set ourselves and put our focus on what we CAN DO as individuals and on what “personally” gives us joy rather than what we think “should” make us happy, particularly in a world of heavy comparisons.
The only real reality is our own internal reality – The thoughts and deep beliefs that we hold in our minds. And whatever this is, or wherever you choose to put your focus, you will attract more of it by giving it more energy. What you CHOOSE to perceive and determine for your life, you will attract, whether this is deliberate or not.
So, for example …
Forget the placards of whatever you are against, concentrate on what you want more of.
If you are against war … support peace
If you are in debt … set up a repayment plan and focus on living in abundance
If you are against famine … focus on their being enough food for all
If you are ill … focus on healing and being well
If you are against animal cruelty … focus on animal welfare rights, buy vegan
If you are against a certain politician, don’t give them extra energy by rallying against them… support the person or things you want.
In a nutshell, focus on what makes you feel good and the kind of thinking that gives you joy?
So in a world of perpetual “new age fear”, the more you are consciously aware of it, the more you can positively do something about it and turn your focus to the thing’s you really want that will make you happy. All as opposed to worrying about what you haven’t got or what you aren’t yet.
You can easily avoid falling victim to it! Focus on what “you” really want, focus on a higher purpose for yourself that goes above and beyond any conscious clutter.
- Start with making a list of all the things you have that you are truly grateful for – no matter how small or big.
- Next create a “vision board” of all the things you would like to do and have – get creative – decorate it with everything that represents what you want. Make this your daily focus and “feel” the feelings of living that life or having and achieving those things.
- Then ask yourself “what’s stopping you from achieving all that?” “What’s really in your way that once you eliminate it, you can have or do anything?”
Work out what you’re going to do about it, how are you going to push through your personal comfort zone, break boundaries and get the life you really want and can have.
Just think, who or what could you be if you had no more fears, limitations or comfort zone?
It’s all out there if you want it – you’ve already made a positive start by reading this article, so you can do it! Just take action, break those boundaries and go for it J