From Dr. Jane's Notebook

Be Careful... Not Fearful

The world is a very chaotic place. Whether driving to work, walking down the street, pouring a cup of hot coffee, or climbing a mountain...its a good idea to be careful. In this article, I hope to clarify the difference between being careful and being fearful. Fear is an incapacitating emotion which often causes us to get hurt (the very thing we fear). Being careful is being mindful and alert, and helps us to prevent getting hurt. Here are a few examples.

When this incident was first reported to me, I heard that my friend had been mugged. Getting mugged would have been far worse as it would probably have involved injury to her body. Fortunately, while her purse was over her left arm, her keys were in her right hand, and she was able to drive away safely. She was badly shaken up by the event, but she and her friends were uninjured. Had her keys been in her purse, they would have been "stuck" in the parking lot. With keys and a car, they were able to drive to safety and contact the police.

Fortunately, I was not injured when I missed that step, although I'm a little sore today. But had I actually fallen and broken a bone, all of my efforts to save time would have cost me great amounts of time, money, doctor bills, and physical consequences.

For me, this decision to be careful and perhaps a few minutes late, is my way of taking care of my physical and mental health. When I am hurried, I make poor decisions, feel irritated, and am not fun to be around. When I take care of myself, I am providing a service to everyone around me. No one has time in their lives to take care of me if I get injured, and I don't have time that I wish to spend in doctor's offices waiting for bones to heal.

It is important for each of us to give some thought to how we move through the environment. The buzz word, stress management, suggests that we recognize the sources of our stress and learn to manage them. Stress is an individual matter. What bothers me, may not have any effect on someone else. So its up to me to figure out what causes me stress, what causes me fear, and how to being to live more carefully. By keeping our eyes open, staying alert to the world around us, and being sensitive to our own needs, we can begin to protect ourselves through mindfulness and being careful, not by being afraid.

ęCopyright, 1996, 1999, Jane R. Rosen-Grandon. All rights reserved.

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Last Updated February 27, 1999 by Gary M. Grandon, Ph.D.