There is A Different Between Feeling Fear & Letting Fear Rule Inside of You.
Fear is an alarm. An awakening. It can quickly turn to panic. A response we simply cannot ignore. Our body won’t let us, and our mind, emotional, and physical systems won’t keep it a secret that we are facing a real and present danger in our real and present time.
How will you respond to it? Will you fight (jump to action)? Will you freeze? The answer already inside.
At no other time in our lives are our bodies asked to react on demand and take on such a high degree of impact unless we have just experienced something traumatic or perhaps labor intensive. Yet with labor we have in some way planned for the impact and potential pain, not devastation. We aren’t naturally reminded through our hypervigilance and constant scanning of our environment to be on the lookout for threats to our safety. In more normal times, we generally have a gut we can trust to sense when somethings wrong (guts don’t actually tell us when nothing is wrong). And whether we are tuned into our gut or not, it is surely speaking to us on a much lower level to tell us, we are stepping in the direction of something that may be harmful to us or we need to better understand. Imagine that kind of alarm on steroids. That is what it feels like to be in Fear.
So how do you process what is happening to you? Where do you go when you feel fear?
It’s hard to hunker down and drink tea and sit back in the midst of a pandemic when everywhere you look, the threat becomes more real and how you’re going to survive financially and relationally may be at the top of your list of concerns. A part of you knows if you make it through to the other side of this pandemic you will still need to live. And that is not FREE. No one has bank-rolled your life so far, and likely no one ever has (I imagine that only happens in the movies). Your mind races to figure out what you will need, and what actions you will need to take to fully recover. And the worries and fears surrounding living become the entryway for more fear to reside. Perhaps your mind is working overtime to know what really starts to spark that downward spiral of worry and tire out your emotional system. Right now, you just know you have to survive. And honestly, you’re doing the best you can for yourself, in your relationship, or with your family. Or with all three.
In survival mode, sleep and rest can be harder to come by. How can your impacted brain and emotional system find its pillow quite the same way? Or how can the sense of safety that comes from your routine quite be there? Environments we know to be safe, often help us regulate our emotions, find resolve, accurately interpret what is going on around and within us. When we can’t reach the people in our lives who can mirror our experience and reassure us, we become disoriented. When we need love from behind a wall of fear, we resort to interpreting the best we can from signals we often struggle to read.
Yes, you’re only human. And times like this can feel like you’re a black and white space, restless and ready for action or immersed in a deep sense of helpless indecision. It can feel like your only way to control the uncontrollable is to clean the toilet or binge watch season 4. Yes, those are options, and needful ones to balance out your need to come down from the vigilance and incredible sense of threat and heightened sensibility of the menacing apprehension from within or without. Our systems need a pause. And for some of us, that pause might normally have been a coffee date with a friend, a walk by the ocean, or hug, a hug we could really use right now but no longer dare to seek. Alcohol or other possibly problematic retreats may take the place of physical comforting from others.
Letting in love, empathy and compassion from others, and caring for ourselves can often be more helpful. No. We can’t always find love at the exact moment we really need it, yet love and comfort we can pull close to us in a time of COVID can surely make a difference even when its offered through Facetime or Skype. Just be sure it’s the loving kind you need. What helps us regulate our emotional systems helps to calm our internal storms. Our need for closeness and an end in sight to our emotional distress especially in the face of isolation and social distancing, becomes even more essential. Having our usual sources of reassurance, love and physical comfort miles and countries away may fuel our feeling of isolation and threaten our sense of safety, but we are challenged to find other ways to experience proximity that can help us absorb our pain and assuage fear. It is important not to close the door to them.
Connection is so important in any way that is allowed at this difficult time. Shared laughter can bring levity and fill our system with endorphins, dousing some of the cortisol that courses through us in stressful times. With connection, we breathe again.
It makes sense that when you understand how your system works, and what it needs, you can reflect on the feeling of flailing, the horror of maybe having to do the unthinkable, the need to stock up on essentials, and to keep your children close. If you’re also feeling reactive, telling yourself to man up, readying yourself for a fight, you are responding to your body’s alert system. You may also find yourself ingesting more and more news reports to confirm your worst suspicions or to assuage your deepest concerns, and to keep you abreast of where this invisible and deadly enemy lies. You are preparing yourself for a stand. And now you don’t know exactly where this invisible menace is hanging out, creating more than a bit of unrest on top of your desperate need to connect. All you feel like doing is lying down, busying yourself, or finding some way to control the madness, even if that puts you right in the thick of a march for justice with a sense of uncertainty and helplessness steadily creeping in.
You just haven’t had a way to get some answers to help you activate your calmer mind. Or be held ever- so-gently by the sweetest memories of times past, when you could actually be with the people you love.
It may seem counterintuitive to slow down the system that protects you while the danger is still here. Can’t it still rise again? Could you be risking a false sense of security? Yet, when you resume a more reflective stance sitting with fear instead of pushing it away, you can calm your body and free your mind to think and be guided on your way to a path of strength. You can take another breath. You can finally perhaps find empathy and compassion for yourself and those you hold so close. You can finally let the calm in. And if inclined to pursue a spiritual path, seeking solace and guidance there. I can’t fully pen how much peace God (my infinite anchor) inspires in me.
When you finally start to unclench your fists, you begin to access the help and support you didn’t see you needed, and perhaps you can finally find tender rest. You can finally feel more empowered than afraid, find your safe emotional home, having accessed your growing hidden strength. You can finally start seeing an end in sight, a return to your life, knowing that all is not completely lost. You can pick up a glowing sword and slay the jabberwocky of fear as you journey toward succor, letting the light in, seeing and being well. You can be the warrior, grasp connection, and be present… Again.
It’s True That Fear Can Help Keep You Alive. What Can Also Be True Is That It CAN Get In The Way Of You Finding The Strength To Make For Your Best Way of Living.
Let Me Help You Annihilate The Fear And Find Your Inner Champion. And Let Your Fear Fully Serve Its Purpose.