Little Miss Fearful

Change is a part of life. If you can't shift with the current, you'll drown.

At 33, there are times when I feel like my head is barely above water, in a constant struggle with the sea of change around me. I know what you're thinking, "33 is young! You have nothing to fear. Your whole life is ahead of you." And yes, it is, especially if I cut back on the cheese.

But the real concern is that the ones I love most in this world are getting older, too. Specifically my hilarious, loving, compassionate parents - my best friends. This truth became glaringly obvious when my father had a health scare over the holidays. Incredibly grateful that it was nothing more than a scare, it made me realize that one day it'll be the real thing.

For the better part of my teenage and adulthood years, I've been working on managing my mind, and my tendency to gravitate toward the what-ifs in life. Like "What if I eat that Boar's Head turkey meat in my fridge on day 5 (death by listeria?), or "What if that sharp pain I occasionally get in my side isn't gas but in fact a pulmonary embolism waiting to rupture?" My husband has grown accustom to the weird look I make when I'm mid-what-if. It gives me an odd sense of comfort knowing he is completely aware that my mind has left the shoreline and is navigating rocky waters. 

And while these scenarios are simply that, just 'what-ifs,' they still manage to frighten me and wake me at night.

I've always been guilty of creating a million scary scenarios that will never come to pass. I believe my shrink called it catastrophizing? But one cooked up creation that I know has a high probability of coming to pass is losing my parents.

How do you prepare your mind for losing those you love? A spouse, parents, friends, your dog?

I've been working on a weird skill, a tool I've been trying to sharpen. It's ripped from the pages of  Greek Philosophy: Stoicism. The act of envisioning the event you fear most. One that has probability - like the loss of a loved one. While there is something very dark about picturing this, there is power in it, too.

So here's your exercise:

If you are like me, and this is something you struggle with, take 5 minutes out of your day (1 day/week) and spend this time coming to terms with your deepest fears. And while you're at it, really dwell on your appreciation for what you have in the present moment. The more you practice this, the greater your mind will be at loving, living and accepting that the only thing you can control in life is your reaction to it.