It is a natural part of our human existence. It can keep up from being eaten by a lion or from getting into a car with a stranger who means up harm.
However, it can also drive us mad and make us sick. Raising our cortisol, adrenaline and glucose levels. When you really need to get away, in the moment, it’s a perfect biological response. Long term, it encourages disease and illness, as well as adding to or causing significant mental health issues. It can change us into people we don’t want to be, and maybe never thought we would be. Hoarding, pushing, angry and unkind in the way we treat and the planet. Or, maybe the unkindness stays on the inside, directed towards ourselves in our thoughts and actions. Either way, it can be very destructive physically and emotionally.
Take my cat, Evie, a darling 6 ½ pound tiny little love bug. She spends most of her day purring on my lap as I work. If you have ever been on a Zoom call with me, you have probably met her. She is the kindest, sweetest cat I have ever met. Until there is food. Just the refrigerator or pantry opening turns her into a rabid, attacking beast, and I have a myriad of scars to prove it. You see, Evie was starved for the first few months of her little life. Her litter was dumped in the woods and somehow, she made it to my friend’s ranch after surviving on her own for several months. So, of course, I understand her trauma around food and why she is so VERY afraid she will never have enough. There will never be enough.
Right now, a lot of people are experiencing fear, including me. Fear for their families, the economy, their health, their communities and for the lack of toilet paper. Take a moment and ask yourself where in your past is this fear coming from? Maybe it is something you were taught growing up, that like Evie, there will never be enough, so you need to clean out the grocery shelves to be safe. Or maybe it’s from being abused physically or emotionally, that being home is not comfortable and still feels unsafe, even if the abuser no longer is in the picture.
Whatever fears you are experiencing, take a quiet moment and ask yourself why. Why are you feeling fearful? Where is it coming from? Whose voice do I hear in my head? Where in my body do I feel the fear? With inquiry and self awareness, we can begin to tell ourselves a new story, decreasing the fear and the effects to our physical and mental health. We can choose the thoughts we think, and those thoughts become our actions every moment.
During this time of crisis, we do need to take proper precautions. Stay home if there is ANY way you can. And, I do mean stay home. I miss hugs so much I dreamt about them last night, but physical distancing will help slow the spread of the virus, protect our most vulnerable citizens, and assist our medical system in coping with the onslaught that they are experiencing so that we can all get the health care we need when we need it (here is an excellent visualization of why this is so important). It is a kind and generous social gift. Wash your hands. Don’t touch your face (I was completely unaware of how often I touch my face!).
I realize the emotional and economic implications of this time are massive, and will be for quite some time. However, we have community. We have each other (albeit in digital form right now). Find a project you have been wanting to finish, or start, that feeds your soul. Write that book. Meditate. Catch up with friends you haven’t talked to in years. Start running or doing yoga. Create a digital dance party with friends. Go back to school using one of the many exceptional digital platforms. Clean your garage. Take care of yourself in deep and nurturing ways.
We will get though this, together, in love.