November 12, 2016
It’s been a rocky year. I felt afraid before the election and notice I feel afraid after the election. Much of the world seems afraid. Regardless of which side we’re on, we want things to change…for the better…whatever our personal ‘better’ may be.
So what to do?
My experience is that fear begs for one or more of three things: more information, more reassurance, more time. I’m adding a fourth element because of the nature of the current unrest in the world: A sense of personal power. For many of us, the first three are achievable but the fourth element is harder to come by.
Here are a few things I’m exploring to reduce my own fear.
I have all the information in the world at my fingertips. I can educate myself. I need to know what I’m talking about before I shoot my mouth off or scream that the sky is falling. It may actually be falling, but I need to understand why and how that’s happening, so that I can make reasonable and effective choices in how I handle it.
The last thing I want to do is add ignorance to ignorance. That’s a cycle that’s almost impossible to interrupt.
I can reassure myself by standing up for what I believe in, without denigrating someone else for believing something different. Challenging, to say the least. I’m sitting with this one.
I’m not sure what standing up for what I believe in looks like for me personally. I’m a word person, so I can talk about it, and write about it; but like I said, I’m sitting with it. It occurs to me that something more may be required of me. Maybe it’s as simple as offering reassurance to those who may not experience the same degree of privilege and freedom that I enjoy. I can reassure them that I will support them and not turn my back. And in reassuring them, I’m reassuring myself that I haven’t lost myself and what matters to me.
I can respect and take advantage of the wisdom that time offers. Giving it time, sleeping on it, giving myself a time out, taking a break – all have served me well over the last few months. There is a time for action and if I allow myself to be present, to pause, take a breath and soften my body, I know intuitively when it’s time to move or act.
My challenge is the tendency to act on impulse, to react immediately. But when I give whatever is frightening me even a little bit of space and time to come back into perspective, I seldom regret it. A great ‘give yourself a moment’ tool is to use the THINK acronym before speaking or acting:
T is it true?
H is it helpful?
I is it inspiring?
N is it necessary?
K is it kind?
Sometimes information, reassurance and time aren’t enough. Sometimes what’s happening is so frightening that I need to call on my deepest self for the strength to push past my fear and continue to behave in ways that are in line with my integrity and values. That’s when I remind myself that no one individual, no group, and no rule or law can change who I am on the inside, unless I let them.
We are in this together. And we’re all going to need to dig deep to bring out our best selves to address the problems we’re facing. United we stand…divided we fall. Trite. Every truism becomes trite because it’s used over and over. When it’s the only thing that really says what needs to be said. It applies to every area of our lives — at home, at work, at play. United we stand. Divided we fall.