Dealing With Political Fears

Be Mindful of Fear Based Beliefs Used In Politics

If you are afraid your nervous system shifts to a fight/flight/freeze response and this puts your mind in the same type of thinking.  You are in a mindset trying to protect your self, whether something is a real issue or imagined. You see threats, or imagine threats even when they do not exist. We have learned to trust our gut and so we take our emotions as reality. Once our gut emotions are activated with fear we are more likely to see imagined threats as real, and real issues that are small with exaggerated danger.

Once we do not feel safe we seek safety.  Seeking safety means building walls, or attacking threats, the press, the other party whether real or imagined. These are the forms our fight or flight response has taken on in today’s culture.

How our mind builds a false belief

Our mind seeks to create a congruent inner world.  We want things to make sense in a rational way that includes our emotions. When we have a gut response, the rational circuit in our brain makes a belief that explains our feelings and justifies it with something. In this way what we picture matches what we feel. We feel fear and our mind builds an explanation so the reason for our fear is connected to something. Our mind builds thoughts about the world being an unsafe place, people being dangerous, and justifies that we should fear them. We can build false thoughts and beliefs based on an emotional reaction from something that is imagined.

An extreme example of this is a person that is paranoid. They are overwhelmed with fear, and they see threats and danger everywhere.  In this extreme case the disconnect between their beliefs and the real world are obvious.  In milder cases of fear this separation takes more effort. In either case the person with the fear has the most difficulty separating their beliefs from the emotion. In most cases we don’t even look to be skeptical. We look outside and see people as threats and say that is why we are afraid. In effect our mind works to confirm an existing belief even if it is false.  In politics the culprit is from another country or religion, or the other party. Unfortunately there are many people who can stand up and agree with our fears because they have the same ones. The proposed enemy is offered as being the source of our fears, yet the opposite may have happened. We had fear on the inside, perhaps from something imagined, and then our mind built a story about someone to justify our fear.

Why Be Skeptical about our belief?

The way we feel matches the way we think so we feel confident in our explanation. There is no reason to check a fearful belief when it seems so certain to be true. The fearful picture in our mind is assumed correct, it fits with our gut feeling, and makes it difficult to see if reality is different. There is nothing to question here.  Yet this is the most critical time to be mindful of thought and emotions. After we act is too late.

Resistance to Questioning a Belief

Questioning our fears and beliefs take time. We must quietly sit, ask questions, and pursue other avenues of possibility. We have to will our imagination to other points of view, explanations, and emotional states. This is hard, particularly when we are afraid. When we are in fear, we are in a fight or flight mode and our primal instinct is to act with urgency. There doesn’t seem to be space time to sit and evaluate our beliefs or consider other sources for our emotions. Again, if we wait until after we act it will be too late to reconsider.

Questioning Our Beliefs Takes Will Power

It takes will power to override our primal survival emotional response. Fear subjugates our will power and directs our energy to come up with a plan for safety.  We must flee, or we must fight.  In today’s political world flight takes the form of isolationism. We build walls with our neighbors, cancel trade agreements and replace them with tariffs.  Fear becomes the architectural approach for our foreign relationships. Yet fear isn’t a healthy emotional basis for any relationship.

When our fear is not busy planning on isolating our self, it goes into fight mode. It pushes our mind to seek ways to attack anyone that might hurt us or even just limit our freedoms.  Those people it imagined as threats, or anyone that can be imagined as threatening us, seems reason enough to attack them.  We go on drone strikes, build walls, or invade a dictator nation thousands of miles away. Were they a threat, or did we just imagine them to be? The will power to question your beliefs and appropriateness of your actions may take less power then sending in the military or building a wall. We have to fight the urge and urgency to pause. Afterwards we say we did it for protection of our people, but if we look closer we might find that fear made us do it.

We fear what they might do in the future and so there is a rush to attack them before anything has happened. We imagine being attacked and feel we can’t wait. The only violence against us was what we imagined in our mind. Our mind is the source of fear. Our mind is where the attack took place. Most often, our mind is where the violence is happening. It is there that we must prevent the chaotic attack of fear, not outside. Yet our mind then does a clever trick. It deceives us by suggesting someone else in the future is the perpetrator of the fear we feel today. It is a deception of time frame, and of responsibility. If we are mindful we can notice.

We falsely believe our mind is predicting the future. We invade and attack with drones as a response to the fear in our imagination. We become the creators of real violence and real death in an effort to protect us from our imagined scenarios.  What will protect us from the fear running amok in our imagination and causing us to react unnecessarily?

Do we have time and attention to notice the fear that is driving our behaviors and how others are being treated?  Yes, but we have to make ourselves take that time. Our time, attention, and will power is under the tempting influence of fear and the fight and flight strategies it pursues. If you want to solve violence in the world, in your neighborhood, or even an argument with your spouse, then you will need to address emotions and what goes on in our imagination. Building schools, education, health care, and a healthy economy will help, but even countries with all of those things are susceptible to fear as a source of violence.

What path are you on?

You might not be afraid of other countries, or people in other countries.  Perhaps you are afraid of the other political party, their ideology, or candidate, and what policies they might enact or repeal. Whatever the justification for the source, the emotion of fear is still inside you, and that is your fear to deal with. It is not the change in policy or the candidate that makes you afraid. If that were the case then everyone would feel the same way.  Fear is your creation, and your response to what you believe about the issue. Each person responds with their own emotion because of how their beliefs interpret what is going on.

No one can take on that challenge inside of you but you. The stakes might not be so violent as life and death as in some cases with the world, but still, you don’t need to serve fear.  Sometimes you may still need to take action on issues, but do so wisely. In the effort to not be blinded by fear you first have to consider that fear is obscuring our outlook. Take a moment to consider that your fears may be causing your mind to project political scenarios and thus obscure your vision. Take time to be skeptical. Some people thought it was the end of America when President Obama got elected.  Now, a different group of people fear it is the end of America because Trump got elected.  Neither are true.

You can be without fear, and still act. There may be dangers in the world, but there are fewer than the ones that show up in your imagination. There may be policies that you want to fight for, but you can do so without the victim fears. In a clear mind you can take actions and have positions, without the fear.  If you really want change, fight the fear inside you as much, or more, than you fight others.

When you become adept at changing emotion, thoughts, and beliefs in your own mind, you will be better at changing others.  If you can not change the fear, thoughts and beliefs in your own mind, then you will not be very skilled at changing anyone else’s. Inside you is where real change happens. Don’t be afraid to try.

For practical steps to address your fears and false beliefs, check out the Self Mastery Introductory Course. The first four sessions are free.