Imagine it’s late at night, and you’re home alone. You start drifting off to sleep… but out of the dead silence, an unexpected noise jolts into your awareness.
For some, this may elevate your pulse and give you goosebumps, while others of you may recognize this scenario as quite mundane as if the dog door flap snapped back into place for his late-night visit to the yard.
The reality is that any situation can cause fear, especially when there are unknown or uncertain elements in play… but that fear isn’t necessarily your enemy.
And in most cases, when handled correctly, fear can be your friend. Here’s what I mean: Our brains are wired to alert us to things that are new or unexpected. And with the ‘unknown’ factor in play, that often shows up as ‘fear.’ Imagine our ancestors talking a walkout on the plains, and they see movement off in the distance. Is it a gazelle out for a leisurely stroll, or is it a lion tracking us as their next meal? The alert our brain gives us is a form of fear… which causes us to think about our next move. Do we chase it for our dinner, or do we run to avoid being the main course ourselves?
Once we have accepted the stimulus and the fear response has been activated, we need to process it. And no matter what the outcome, how we handle this bit of knowledge is what matters most.
Now, back to today–if you don’t have a dog, and that noise makes no sense, fear is a natural reaction. The next steps are to take reasonable precautions to protect yourself and call for help if prudent. Fear has helped you identify what you need to do.
Remember: Courage is not the absence of fear; it’s the ability to keep moving in spite of fear.
And when people haven’t been trained on how to manage the fear response, or have had phycological trauma that overcomes their rational thinking, it can easily become a negative element in their mental realm.
And over time, these negative mental charges can build up and create mental clutter that hinders your mind from functioning at optimum levels.
Too much clutter creates a simple path for negativity–which may manifest into the thoughts that ‘nothing is good because nothing has ever been good.’ Even when it was a gazelle, if you hold on to the idea that it could have been a lion, that emotional charge sticks around in your mind…even though it wasn’t actually a lion–the threat remains in your mind.
And that’s how minds work when we don’t actively seek to clear out our past clutter. At the end of the day, most people recall the negative things that happen; they commiserate about what could have gone wrong.
In my work, the best way to fight negativity is to learn to use fear to your advantage. Once you befriend fear, it will help you recognize the mental clutter that is left behind. And that’s when you get to the real work–clearing your mental clutter of past tensions and residual negativity that no longer serves you.
The best way to clear mental clutter and remove negativity is to work on having a flexible mindset. When you spend time and effort on creating a positive and flexible mindset, you create the opportunity to transform negative thoughts, ideas, and experiences into the positive fuel needed to drive your life forward.
You can also amplify mindset work when you combine it with other practices like meditation or intention setting exercises.
At the end of the day, fear is your friend but left unchecked; it can turn on you. But with even a little effort, you can start to transform the residual negativity into productivity.