A close friend recently told me about her greatest fear fleshed out in high def.  She’d recently moved to a retirement community with wonderful amenities and better security than she’d had while living alone.  The transition to living apartment style is a good one and most everything has proved to be more than she’d hoped.  Except for one thing…..

Living alone there had always been a fear of waking in the night and hearing someone in her home and not being able to defend herself from the intruder.

One of the amenities of this facility is a panic system to call security in an emergency.  This particular system has some shorts.  My friend is a deep sleeper and was awaken by two men standing at the foot of her bed, in the dark asking if she was OK.  You can imagine the rush of adrenaline and shear panic that two people were in her apartment, in the dark and jolting awake from a deep sleep.  PANIC, BRAIN OVERLOAD, HEART POUNDING, THOUGHTS OF FIGHT OR FLIGHT RACING, DISORIENTATION AND TERROR.

What’s your Greatest nightmare?  Has it already come true and you’re living with the results in depressed silence?  Is it eating you alive?

My friend did everything right:

  1. Try and calm down (almost impossible to do) and process what’s really going on. Determine if there’s an immediate threat that should trigger retreat.The physiological reaction to immediate danger is called “fight-or-flight” (baseball bat or sprint).  Your body pumps out loads of adrenaline and other hormones which in turn:
    • Increase heart rate and blood pressure
    • Dilate pupils to let in as much light (sight) as possible
    • Veins in the skin constrict to send blood to the muscles
    • Blood glucose increases
    • Muscles tense up and breathing rate increases to send more oxygen to your body
  2. Try some self-soothing techniques as soon as you know that you’re not in immediate danger
  3. Tell someone else about the incident  – Get the story out of your brain and into the light. Fear is worse if kept in your head to continually bounce around and grow.Authority – This was an honest mistake not a burglary gone wrong. These men were in her apartment because of a security protocol for the facility. They were following the rules and regs that they’d been charged to do. They were there to assist not terrorize.
  4. Take action to prevent this from happening again.
    In this case the action was to talk with authorities and have them test and retest their system to find the issue and assure her that she wouldn’t have men showing up in her apartment again.

Your action may be very different;

  • Calling an attorney due to a spouse who is abusive
  • Engaging a therapist to help you work through daily trauma that may not lead to fight-or-flight but the constant cortisol flood can have huge negative effects on your health.
  • Ask a coach, whether that’s a friend or professional to work through this nightmare.

No matter which trusted confidant you share this fear with it will help to have another’s perspective and share the burden you may be holding by yourself.


What’s your greatest nightmare?  Write a comment below and let’s explore together.