Fear Vs. Anger – Tranquil Thursday #13

A black and white photo of a solitary boat on a lake

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Are you ready for a little time travel trip back to science class? Do you remember learning about the fight-or-flight response? In lay terms it is considered a means of survival. When the amygdala senses a threat, signals are relayed through the hypothalamus which kicks in the sympathetic nerve system to send nerve signals through the autonomic nerve system to the adrenal glands. This produces adrenaline and emotional responses follow. Pretty amazing I must say.

The problem is that with evolution, we have conditioned our fight-or-flight response to activate in less than life-threatening events. Living in this heightened state for long periods of time could be unhealthy because during this complex physiological response, the body also does something else. It shuts down any bodily functions not necessary to fight or flee the threat.

For example. I excelled at public speaking. I always classified it as an out of body experience which in a way it was. My palms got sweaty, my heart raced, and it felt like my brain shut down. I couldn’t feel my body and I hardly saw the audience. I was almost unaware of everything until the speaking concluded – the threat was over. Pretty cool.

Nervous bladder, sweaty palms, increased blood pressure, tensed muscles, and reacting without thinking can all be part of the response.

Now back to fear and anger. It is believed that fear and anxiety are flight responses and anger is a fight response. Is it any wonder politicians use this knowledge to amp people up? It is a powerful response. Think back to the divisions we experienced during Covid. The fear and anger were real.

Today the question is simple.

How have fear, anxiety and anger played a role in your life and how have you managed those responses?

I do recognize and feel anxiety and fear, especially in the constant onslaught of news around us. So many mental health professionals tell us to turn off the news and control what gets in to our protected circle.

I have experienced bad relationships when I experienced fear. Thankfully they are gone from my life now.

Once my brain is loaded, I replay it over and over which creates anxiety. Learning how to shut my brain off has been challenging. A few nights ago, my brain was on fire preventing me from falling asleep. I decided to slowly count backward from 100. This would require intentional thinking which I hoped would block the other thoughts. At the same time I practiced intentional breathing. The last number I remembered was 85 then I fell fast asleep.

Health concerns can trigger fear and anxiety. Worrying about my children or grandchildren can also. I worry about the danger of guns in their lives but never want them to live in that heightened state of constant fear. I try to counter these thoughts by flooding myself with good news and heartfelt videos of people and pets reflecting the happiness and good in this world.

The anger I feel is for the hatred and the violence that seems to be the norm in America. Our most powerful tool against this is our vote and our voice. Our extended voting periods allow ineffective lawmakers to remain in power and effect a lot of damage in the interim. This means we must fight even harder for change.


Behavior Unbecoming

Image courtesy of Pixabay

I did not want to taint my retreat story with this observation so I decided to wait until tonight to post it.

When I flew home Sunday, I was the first in my row to board the plane. Unfortunately I had a center seat which is never my favorite. I was just getting settled when a young woman turned into the row and said “I am sitting here and you need to move, you are overflowing into my seat.”

Coming from a very relaxed and zen state of mind, this threw me off. It seems the corner of my unzipped jacket was touching her seat as I put my overnight case under the seat in front of me. I moved my jacket as she slammed down the armrest perhaps to serve as a barrier.

Within a few minutes, a woman somewhat older than I stopped and indicated she was seated in the window seat. We stood to let her take her seat. She was similarly brusk.

The flight was completely booked so space in the overhead compartment was limited. Two people tried to rearrange the small backpacks these women had in the overhead bin to which both these women became very irate about not touching their bags. Voices were raised, the young woman telling people to shut up and the older woman also raising her voice to anyone who touched her bag.

I will not go into the detail of the verbal exchange, but the behavior was uncalled for on both their accounts. I donned my noise cancelling headphones and watched Netflix for the duration of the flight as the passengers around us rolled their eyes in disbelief.

I find this type of behavior unnerving. After returning from a retreat where women dig deep to get to know each other and go out of their way to help each other, seeing two women behave in such a way was certainly disconcerting.

Why must people be so rude? What is the cause of the chip they wear on their shoulder. I think they could use a retreat, but I do not think either could lower their defenses long enough to make any progress.

All I kept thinking is that the young woman on my left would most likely grow into the older woman on my right. What a miserable way to go through life.



Day 14

There are days that seem perfect and there are days that seem horrible. In actuality, most days are simply peppered with moments — good or bad — that alter our moods.

Breathable Moments

Today has had some less than perfect moments. It is easy to let stress take residence in those moments but it is important to find a way out.

I know that sounds easy but can be a hard step for some people. It’s hard for me sometimes.

I try to look for breathable moments. Things that snap me back to a sense of calm and clarity.

GowensvilleIt might be a cloud formation, a flower blooming, or a child lost in play. Today it was the sky and an image I saw of space.

Both remind me of how small we are in this world. And if we are small then our stresses and problems must be relatively small as well.

But sometimes they seem huge.


It’s important to recenter. Look around and take in your surroundings. There is so much to observe and take in and appreciate. We are small and while our problems seem insurmountable, they can be small as well. Especially the moments in the day when someone says the wrong thing or treats you unkindly.

Let It Go

My mom used to tell me to “just let it roll off your back”. Sounds good on the surface but sometimes things hurt or sometimes they make you angry. That’s the human condition. We are not perfect and we should not expect perfection in others.

Sometimes we do not live up to our own expectations.

I learned a long time ago that anxiety and stress have a threshold. If you imagine a scale from one to ten, with ten being the worst, you realize that once you hit that peak things will move from a boil to a simmer and eventually, everything will be normal again. It’s learning to recognize when you hit ten and understanding that the worst has passed.

If you’ve had a hard day, try to be easy on yourself. Look around you. Find a peaceful moment.


Just Breathe.

“Life is the most elegant, beautiful, amazing, and magical thing that you will ever have. Why then do you feel anxious, stressed or hurried? Slow down. Enjoy the magnificence of life by touching a flower, listening to songs, singing with a bird, and dancing with dancing leaves.”
Debasish Mridha