Have you ever noticed how hyper aware dogs are of their surroundings? They can spot a bird halfway down the street. Or sense when something is not quite right to steer you in another direction. They know when to warn you about someone with a bark. On walks, they are constantly on the look out literally sniffing everything in their path.
As natural protectors, their job is to keep their people and themselves safe by taking in everything around them.
Recently, I was on Facebook checking the notifications from the kids’ school page and a parent had posted about an incident occurring at a local grocery store. A mom and her baby were being followed by a strange man who obviously wasn’t shopping. Luckily, she took action and had a security guard follow her out to her car, help load her stuff and watch her drive away.
Stories like this posted and share on social media contribute to how we as a society live in a state of fear. I am not naive and know that kidnapping, human trafficking and assaults happen daily. Yes, It is important for people to share their stories so others can be aware. But what happens for me is I go into a brief state of anxiety and worry.
I move from a place where I want my kids to have freedom to a mom that hovers and is hyper vigilant about their whereabouts. It’s not me but the fear that takes over and I don’t like it.
Having Some Fear is Normal
When I was younger, I would stay home alone when my mom was working, I remember being very aware of my surroundings. There would be times, as a 13 year old, I would sit locked in my bathroom with a bottle of aerosol hairspray if I heard the slightest creak in the house. I would also barricade myself in my room when I read scary books with a butcher knife at the ready.
It’s moments like this that make me feel comfortable running alone before the sun comes up as an adult. Or being able to navigate NYC as a 20 something when my friends were at work. It’s knowing that if my hubby goes out of town, the kids and I are safe because I will not be victimized by fear.
Stories like the one I read on social media turns into teachable moments for my children. I don’t want them to live in a state of fear that someone is going to snatch them up. Instead I want them to be empowered knowing they can approach a store employee or another mom with kids if they feel unsafe. These stories give me the opportunity to explain to my kids to listen to their gut when something doesn’t feel right. On the other hand, they should enjoy life instead of being afraid all the time.
Trust Your Instincts
The key is to be aware of your surroundings. When I walk the dog, I’m usually looking at the sky, enjoying the alone time, taking in the fresh air and being outside. Most of the time I leave my phone at home, so I’m not distracted by the beauty of nature around me. But that doesn’t mean that I don’t have eyes and ears on what is going on around me.
I will still turn around to see why the leaves are rustling behind me. It could be an animal but it’s instinctual to check. My gut will tell me if it senses trouble to help my brain concoct an escape plan. Trust me, nobody would want to mess with this mama bear.
Having a little bit of fear will keep you safe, protecting yourself in order to make good decisions. It’s when you get lost in your phone or have a one track mind that trouble is able to find you. The biggest lesson here is to follow your gut because your body knows when something just ain’t right.
Take Charge of Your Thoughts
Social media is a trigger to keep you in a state of fear. While it is important to be aware of what is going on in the world, you don’t have to know everything. I’m not saying you stay in your safe little bubble because that is not living. But instead, be diligent about what you let into your news feed. I never read or watch the news because all it does is depress me. The news and social media are skewed one way to induce fear in the general public. Isn’t it crazy how news of kidnapping and other threats appear in your feed all the time? It’s almost as if the moment it happens, the news is there to report it.
Bad things have been happening since the dawn of man. But the fact that we can access these stories instantly through social media makes our fear levels rise.
It’s not the stories themselves but that our minds create a worst case scenario where this could happen to us. “What if…” stories get blown way out of proportion especially in my head. Instead, I choose to control what I can by being aware of my surroundings, focusing on the good in my life and not letting media dictate how my day goes.
Here’s the question you need to ask yourself. Do I want to be afraid all the time or do I want to take control of my thoughts?