Releasing the shackles of fear

Jonathan Mills
3 min readFeb 19, 2023

“Don’t be pushed around by the fears in your mind. Be led by the dreams in your heart” (Roy T Bennett)

If ever there was a time for contribution, meaningful acts of compassion, and kindness, it is now!

The world is intoxicated with fear and despair — often caused by corrupt or inconsequential leadership that causes harm to millions of people; global warming and natural disasters that leave hardship and pain; pandemics that not only take lives, but also ruin livelihoods; etc. These global issues, many of which are out of our control and unprecedented in our time, have raised anxiety levels everywhere — you seemingly can’t escape all the problems the world is facing, no matter where you live. The issues touch us all.

The above-mentioned hardships start instilling a nagging fear — fear grows in your mind as you start being concerned about your welfare and the welfare of your family and friends. For many, the question is asked more frequently: “What does this world hold for our children?” Some start losing hope, closing themselves off to reality and attempting to “live normally” by not watching the news, avoiding discussions that might trigger anxiety, and retreating into mental “bunkers” to protect fragile emotions. We all seem to be hurting in one way or another — as fear takes hold of us, our wellness levels drop and we become unhealthy, wracked by every conceivable worry or concern.

The medical fraternity calls these feelings of dread “existential anxiety”. “Existential anxiety is a feeling of dread or panic that arises when a person confronts the limitations of their existence. Thoughts of death, the meaningless of life, or the insignificance of self, can all trigger existential anxiety” (Medical News Today). It is a form of anxiety that arises from thinking about existence and the self. A person may have feelings of insecurity, dread, isolation, and loneliness. People may also experience a sense of emptiness or pointlessness.

Constant anxiety leads to stress and too much stress is harmful. To balance the anxieties of life, Roy T Bennett (in the above quote) has a helpful suggestion — “be led by the dreams in your heart”. I don’t believe that he is being superficial in the sense that we can close ourselves off from the worries of the day and live in an artificial cocoon. That would be delusional. Having a dream, however, shifts the focus to a possible meaningful future. Energy is diverted away from self-protection and stress towards goals that may make your dream become reality. One’s focus moves to caring for others, helping them stand strong, and encouraging them to use their creativity to find possible solutions to the issues that they may face. Having a dream leads to contribution, innovation, an outward focus, compassion, and acts of kindness. It usually translates into care as you take others with you on the journey.

Acts of kindness and meaningful contributions lead to a sense of wellness that far outweighs any sense of foreboding or doom. Your dreams shift your focus away from peril and self-interest to the role that you have to play to make our world a better place where all people can thrive — not just survive. In our struggling world that is suffering in so many ways, the time for you to contribute is now!

Originally published at https://www.stretchforgrowth.com on February 19, 2023.

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Jonathan Mills

Jonathan has spent over 30 years focusing his efforts on developing people throughout the world. He believes that people have the most impact when stretched.