To Combat Fear, Make a Plan.
December 5, 2016 by
Karina B. Heart in
Fear is a good thing. It alerts us to danger. It let’s us know something in the environment is wrong. It wakes us up.
That’s what fear is supposed to do. It isn’t supposed to hang out and keep us from sleeping, eating, smiling, loving who we love or enjoying ourselves.
When fear becomes obsession, we are no longer capable of making good, clear, rational decisions. When fear paralyzes or disables normal function it’s no longer serving us. If fear makes us irrationally angry, it’s no longer serving its function. Fear is not meant to direct your life. It’s meant to be an alert system.
Our typical response to fear is to fight, flee or freeze.
Fighting is the correct response when defending against threat to yourself or others. Fighting is an appropriate choice if you are physically and psychologically prepared for it. Fighting is necessary, courageous and brave. It is not the only choice. Be compassionate and kind toward those unable or unwilling to fight. If you are able, fight alongside other fighters.
Flight, or fleeing, is the correct response when you cannot defend against threat. Fleeing is an appropriate response if you are incapable of fighting or if you are responsible for those incapable of fighting (children, elders, disabled, those under more immediate threat than you). Fleeing is necessary. Helping others flee is sometimes necessary. Flight is not the only choice. Be compassionate and kind toward those unable or unwilling to flee with you.
Freezing is the correct response when you need to discern what’s happening. Like denial, it’s a natural and instinctual response to threat which feels utterly overwhelming and unconscionable. Freezing is a necessary step in the process of assessing danger and taking action. It is not the only choice nor is it viable long-term in the face of real, immanent threat. Take advantage of “freezing” to make plans, gather supplies and decide upon tactics. Ask friends and loved ones to make you aware if you are stuck in the Freeze Stage. Make a commitment to alert them if you see them stand frozen too long. Ask those who have decided to fight or flee to be compassionate, not judgemental, toward you. Understand though, that sometimes the kindest thing one can do is slap someone (physically or metaphorically) out of shock so they can take action.
Thank your fear for alerting you. Do whatever you need to do to get grounded, centered and ready to make rational choices.
You need to make rational choices.
If you choose to fight the good fight beyond being a keyboard or phone-call warrior, you need a plan.
Even if you think I’m stark raving out of my mind with paranoia; if you don’t believe what I’m saying because CNN and NBC are normalizing the absolutely abnormal happenings; you are frozen in denial; you’re white, straight, male, middle-class and have “nothing to fear” — humor me and make a plan anyway.
Make a plan. We plan for blizzards, hurricanes, floods, tornados and earthquakes. We insure against early death, illness, fire, flood, accidents and liability. Plan for the coming changes the same way. You may never need to execute your plan, but if you do, you’ll be really glad you have everything ready to implement.
Even if you have important events or commitments coming up and you’re holding on with all the hope you can muster that everything will be okay until you get done with your thing: Make a plan anyway.
Don’t get caught in an untenable situation with no preparation or plan. People who’ve studied these kinds of radical turns in government (from democracy to facist, dictatorial, authoritarian or totalitarian regime) warn that it will not take nearly as long as we imagine. As of this writing, there are 46 days remaining before inauguration day. Prepare now.
1. Make a safety plan. Decide where you will go if it becomes unsafe for you to stay where you are. If you’re going to friends or family, confirm the plan with them, now.
2. Keep supplies in your house and car. Keep your gas tank full, your ID with you at all times. Put paper maps in the car along with a “go bag.” Keep cash on hand because your credit or debit card may not work. Below, there’s a link to an excellent article listing what you must have in your bag and in your car.
3. Decide what kind of event or situation will signal to you it’s time to enact your safety plan. Commit to that decision by memorizing it, writing it down and posting it in your home where you can see it.
We are dealing with information overload and it’s going to get worse. If panic takes over, or you slide into denial, you may not remember your signalling event. Tell someone you trust what your signal is. Ask them to remind you if they notice the signal before you do. If you live with someone, discuss and agree to the signal. Commit to reminding one another of it when the event or circumstance arises.
4. Make a Plan B, C and D. Commit to those plans in the same way you did for Plan A.
One or more of these plan may be enacted if Plan A has been completed and you need a new plan. Or, if Plan A becomes impossible, choose the plan that makes the most sense.
Each plan should have a new commitment: “If X or Y happens, I will enact Plan B. But if Z happens, I will enact Plan C.”
Realize events may not escalate in the ways you expect them to. Your Plan D may be the only option when it’s time to take action.
If your plans involve other people, consult with them during the planning process. Don’t assume you’ll be able to contact them once you enact your plan. Talk to one another about details that might arise if communication becomes impossible. For example, “We’ll meet at such and such a place. Wait for me. If I’m not there by X, move on without me.” Cover your bases.
5. Get a passport for yourself and your family*. I’m including the steps because many people believe the process is complicated. It’s not.
- Print out the application online or pick up an application at your post office.
- Complete the two-page form using black ink. It takes under 20 minutes.
- Gather the forms of ID required: Social Security card, government issued photo ID, Birth Certificate with the official seal on it and papers proving legal name changes if your birth certificate does not match your current gender or legal name (marriage license, legal name change, etc). If you do not have these forms of ID on hand, start gathering them immediately.
- You will need specific photos for your passport. Some post offices will take your passport pictures (for a fee). Some stores, pharmacies and other places that do photography can take these pictures. Ask and be certain they are qualified and accustomed to taking passport photos.
- Going the to the post office: Call or check online–not all post offices supply or accept passport applications. Many require you make an appointment in advance. Bring the following items with you: Completed passport application. All forms of ID required. Passport Photos and payment. Double and triple check you have everything so you aren’t sent away.
- You must pay with a personal check, bank check, cashier’s check or money order for your passport application ($110 for first passport or a renewal for an adult). Then, you pay a separate $25 for the application fee. If you want your passport expedited (completed sooner than 4-6 weeks) you will pay another separate fee of $60 for that. You will also pay the postage necessary to mail your passport application.
- Everyone applying for a passport must be present when you bring their application to the post office–yes, your kids, your spouse, etc. Someone else cannot run this errand for you.
6. Secure your digital world–all computers, laptops, tablets, phones, etc. You may wish to purchase an extra SIM card for your phone and/or a burner phone.
Signal is a free app available for Android or iPhones. It is recommended as the most secure application. It provides double encryption, does not store your information and provides settings to automatically destroy (like a shredder) text messages and phone call records. The down-side of Signal is that for it to work, those you connect with via text or calling must also be Signal users.
7. Don’t assume electricity, internet access or wireless service will always be available. Plan accordingly with regards to food and water. Also, if you are too young to know how to get from point A to B without an electronic device–ask older people. We still remember and are happy to help you learn to use a road map as well as offering pointers for other activities you may have always relied upon your phone for.
This list is not extensive and, by no means is it complete. It’s meant to motivate you to begin making concrete plans NOW. Once you have some well thought out, rational, concise plans, commitments and supplies in place, you can tell your fear, “I’ve got it covered as best I can. There’s a plan. Relax. Alert me when you notice danger and I’ll always listen. But, right now, this very moment, I am safe.”
When adrenaline is no longer the fuel sustaining you, you’ll crash in exhaustion. Eat something nourishing. Rehydrate with water. Drink teas that support your adrenals. Talk to your Gods/pray/meditate. Take a shower. Hug your beloveds. Laugh. Get some rest. Have amazing sex. Live every moment full on. You’re going to need to be as strong and healthy as you can be (whatever that baseline is for you) in the coming months and beyond.
Don’t waste time trying to figure out how or why or who’s fault it is that got us here. If you’re going to spend energy on the past, study history so you’ll have an idea what to expect as it repeats itself.
As people of magic, spirit, will, it’s important to do your level best to keep from falling into daydreams, fantasies or projections of doomsday scenarios. It’s equally important not to allow yourselves to be lulled into complacency by ignoring or normalizing events. What’s happening is not normal.
Plan and prepare for worst case scenarios.
Stay informed and realistic about the present.
Give focused, sustained attention and intention toward best outcomes.
*If you already have your passport or, if you’re getting one and the cash outlay is of little or no consequence to you, consider helping someone financially who couldn’t otherwise afford a passport to get one. Chances are that donation will have a lot more impact that sending money to MoveOn. If you are not daunted by filling out forms but know someone who is, offer to help them complete their passport application.