Three Easy Steps to Conquer Paralyzing Fear

New beginnings can be scary. Not everyone can let it go and dive into the unknown, but Low Entropy Volunteer Writer Anna Bernsteiner has advice for when you feel frozen by your anxieties.

Back when I was a kid, the most terrifying feeling on this planet was change. I remember one time when I was five years old, my parents replaced some furniture, including a sofa table I loved. That’s all it took to upset me incredibly: everything new was bad.

Of course, things are different now, but whenever I’m close to a really big change and have to make a decision, I feel that crippling fear of the unknown climbing up my body again. Not knowing what comes next and not knowing if my choice is the right one . . . new beginnings and chapters still frighten me.

However, I’m learning that the new and unknown is the one thing that makes us grow. It challenges us and what we think we know. It pushes us to self-development and greater adventures. Life doesn’t stop, and the most important lesson I have learned this year is to flow with whatever it throws at you.

So when you face change and feel anxious, try to remember that, whatever it might be, you have control over your life. No matter how drastic a decision might seem in the moment, think of how it might look in a few years. Is it still really that big of a deal? It could be a breakup, a new job or a move that’s giving you the chills and makes you scared. If you look at it from a distance, it won’t have as much power over you, and you will be less anxious and more open-minded to new beginnings. Try to zoom out for a moment and see the bigger picture of these nerve-racking situations.

Another method that helps me face the new is by writing it out, or talking about it with a friend. By explaining the problem and the fear attached, it takes away some of its intensity.

Last but not least, believe in yourself. Change is rarely comfortable. We have to go through some rough patches to grow. Learn to believe in who you are.\

Look at it this way: would you rather go into a job interview telling yourself you’re going to fail, or say to yourself, “I’m scared, I’m going to work hard and give my best. I can do it.” Either way, there is no certainty that you will get the job. But if you don’t believe in your capabilities, who will?

So whatever you are going through right now, whatever change or new challenge awaits you, stop for a minute and look at the bigger picture, talk to a friend about it and, most importantly, know you have the power to do anything – if you believe it.

Okay, so maybe it won’t be “easy” . . . but it’ll be worth it! Let us know in the comments or at a Low Entropy meeting how you build yourself up to take on the big changes in Life.

The Russian Resolution: Post-2020 Resilience and Resolve

The first weeks and months of a year are usually littered with abandoned New Year’s resolutions. We are, however, all capable of improving our circumstances. Sharing his tale of his first, frigid year in Russia, persevering through solitude and an inability to speak Russian, Low Entropy Volunteer Writer Salem Ziani encourages us to make the most of our strengths, work hard and see our ambitions through to the end.

Like Forrest Gump’s mom always said, “Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re going to get.” I think the year 2020 was a bit of bitter-tasting chocolate for almost all of us. We all confronted fear and anxiety. However, we must also be grateful, because 2020 allowed us to think about our future plans, and to consider our resolutions for 2021.

This was the fourth New Year’s that I spent alone, far from my family. This past year was the hardest for me: I had just arrived in Russia, I knew nobody, I didn’t speak a word of Russian and, without a job, I found myself alone in the world.

I moved to Russia in September 2019 to study. From the beginning I did not like my program because it was not what I expected. As well, coming from the warm weather of the Mediterranean region, Russian winters were very unusual for me. Every day the temperature was -25C, and I had never experienced that.

The most difficult obstacle, however, was the fact that I didn’t speak Russian. I was seeking general employment in industries like restaurants and construction, but I couldn’t find anything because speaking Russian was a must to be hired. I really struggled trying to fit myself into jobs that didn’t suit me.

Then I asked myself: why am I doing this? I had existing skills that I wasn’t using to move forward and become stronger. I could do better. I reminded myself that I graduated with a master’s degree and speak four languages . . . I just needed to learn another one. So I learned the Russian language in three months.

Unfortunately, just as I was building momentum, the pandemic hit, the lockdown started and life became harder again. I remember being very worried about my family, who were so far away from me. Were they healthy? Were they safe?

I was stuck in Russia, with everything around me stopped, but I didn’t give up. I found a teaching job online, taking advantage of my knowledge of several languages. Today, I am among the best teachers of the group. I am grateful for everyone who helped me get through that period and reach the place where I am now.

There is a saying that the tragedy of life is not to aim for the top and miss, but to aim for the bottom and touch it. This year, let’s take the chance of being different. Stop listening to the useless little voices that surround us: let’s dream big. Let’s do it our own way by capitalizing on our talents, our strengths and our advantages. Being different can be a source of energy and progress, and realizing this can unlock happiness.

A lot of people wait until New Year’s Eve to make a resolution and then give up from the first day. Many resolutions are wishes that require hard work and persistence: like caring for a flower, you have to enrich the soil, water the plant and be patient. And even in failure, every day is a new chance to move forward. We don’t have to wait until January of each year to make our lives better.

My wish is that, in 2021, all of us get the best-tasting chocolate. Happy New Year, everyone.

Share your resolutions with us (New Year’s or otherwise) in the comments, or tell us other ways in which you’ve pushed forward and upgraded your life. Better yet, start 2021 right with positivity, encouragement and empathy in one of our Low Entropy meetings.

Leading by Example

After my divorce, I immediately jumped into a new relationship before the ink had dried on our separation agreement. I was committed to my new partner for 6 months before I realized we were better off as friends. A couple weeks passed by when I met someone new and found myself in yet another committed relationship. This lasted 9 months before I “woke up” and understood that I’ll never be happy in a relationship until I’m happy with myself.

In November of 2016, I made a commitment to be in a relationship with myself. I decided to take one year to focus on myself rather than pouring all my energy into a relationship and this turned out to be the best decision ever!

This is what I have achieved over the past 12 months:
1) I started a new career path that I absolutely LOVE! I get to teach leadership & development skills to indigenous communities across British Columbia and I facilitate support groups for single moms through the YWCA.

2) I created a non-profit organization that is growing beyond belief; sharing free resources (courses, support groups, one on one connections) with respect to Purpose, Clarity & Love.

3) The most important achievement of them all is this; my kids see their mother leading by example. I’m showing my kids what it looks like to live a meaningful life, create a positive impact and stay true to yourself.

Over the past 12 months,  I left the world of finance and entered the Non-Profit realm and I became a “minimalist.”  I often wonder how my kids interpret the contrast between me and their father. I live in a small 2 bdrm suite and drive a ’95 Corolla while their dad lives in a huge 4000 sq ft home and drives a new BMW.

Earlier this year, Nala, my 5 year old daughter, said to me “Mommy, why does Daddy have a big house and you have a small house?”
I replied with “because Daddy makes big money so he has a big house… Mommy is starting over and she makes little money so she has a little house.”
Nala nodded her head as she pondered this thought.
I then picked her up, put her on my lap and said “Baby, it’s not how much money you make that’s important… what’s important is how you treat other people, what’s important is WHO you are, how good of a person you are.”
Nala leaned in and said “I love you mommy.” I felt the love as we cuddled together in my cozy little home.

Last month I took a contract to teach a leadership program in Lax Kw’alaams, and I agreed to stay on the Native reserve for 12 days at a time, only seeing my kids every second weekend. Feeling guilty for being away from my kids for so long, I was encouraged the other day while I was on a video call with Nala.

My daughter answered the call, happy as can be and we chatted for a bit when she asked me, “how was your day mommy?”
I told her I had a good day at work and she replied with “Mommy your work is more important than Daddy’s” I laughed and said “Baby, everybody’s work is important.”

When we got off the phone, I smiled, reflecting upon how my daughter came to that conclusion.

Yes I’m a busy mom with a clear mission and I work a lot, I sometimes worry that I’m not spending enough time with my kids. But it’s moments like these that help me to understand that the best mother I can be is one who leads by example.

I’m proud of the mother I am, I’m not a traditional mom, but I am me… authentic and true. I stand behind the values I teach and I not only tell my kids how important it is to treat others with respect, compassion and kindness, the main thing is; I show them what it looks like to embody these values. Courageously leading by example.