"How do you use Survivor Personality skills to be vigilant without worrying, and be alert to potential danger without fear?"
I'm not a worrier
by Ronda Gates
I just got back from one week on the road. A challenge to patience and R E S I L I E N CY. I was doing my new talks on self esteem. I am enjoying this immensely. Lots of media work that I'm beginning to enjoy. Got bumped from being on a television show this morning because of the announcement about anthrax at NBC in NYC. I think people are surprised that I am so willing and able to "go with the flow," but after a week in 12 airports (counting connections, cancelled flights and re-routing) this is the modus operandi in which to be sane.
I am not a worrier. I believe worry is not a useful use of time. Worry precipitated by an event when the conclusion is unknown. Instead of worrying I believe in exploring options to solve the problem using a combination of logic, how the options affect others (if a human element involved) and, using facts, brainstorming possibilities. This can be done in a very short period of time if good health habits gives us the ability to focus. Additionally, if problem doesn't have a solution, worrying about it doesn't help. It doesn't mean ignoring the problem, but making a choice to put the problem to the side and go about the process of LIVING life vs. watching it pass you by.
For example, there are people who ask me how I can get on all these planes. I do not think I am in denial when I feel certain there is no reason to temper my life, within reason. I choose to continue to do my work. That requires getting on a plane. From past experience I know that there is less chance of my life ending in a plane than there is in crossing the street (bike accidents happen on the ground--I've yet to be hurt in a plane). Each time I get on a plane (and I've been doing this for years) I sit quietly for a minute and think, "if worse case scenario occurs, do I have any regrets?" In most cases there are none and if there are any I think of I commit to take care of them as soon as possible. Then I use the possibility of that worse case scenario to do as the people who manage planes suggest--look for exit rows in relation to my seat, review faces of those around me and in plane (I often walk the length of the plane and use the bathroom before takeoff), have a cell phone close by, attempt to stay centered. These are things I've done in the past--behaviors others might have thought unusual--"Does she have a bend toward paranoia?" For me, they were how I took care of myself so I smile knowing that I have a history of being prepared. (In fact I usually sleep, meditate or read accumulated newsletters in flight.)
The only change that has occurred for me post 9/11 is that I choose now not to put myself in situations where there are more risks in dangerous times--all the more reason to live life in concert with what's important. It hasn't required much change for me. I'm simply not going to let the prospect of terror or fear get the best of me. Another strategy I share in lectures is that FEAR is an acronym for False Evidence Appearing Real. Fear is either realistic or unrealistic. If unrealistic there is past history that's creating the fear--vs. the moment. If realistic, I adjust accordingly. I've lost jobs through no fault of my own, had a 20+ yr. marriage end after many challenging experiences, raised a chronically ill child, run a business with 40 independent contractors, survived an assault. moved 12 times in 12 years in the early years of my marriage, made some poor choices re biz associates, sometimes learned lessons the hard way--in short, learned from experience. Isn't that what resiliency is all about?
Come to think of it, the work I do is, essentially, about preparing people to be resilient--perhaps not the same focus as you--paths to self esteem, smart exercise, smart eating, smart behaviors, humorous perspective on serious subjects, etc.
In short, I think I fulfill your definition: vigilant without worrying and alert to potential danger without fear
Be well, rg
Ronda Gates, M. S., is a respected health promotion and weight management consultant, speaker, and author. Learn more about Ronda and her LIFESTYLES company on-line at www.rondagates.com