- Jennifer Stafford
People are worried. People are fearful. Sickened by stress and now feeling more stress. Some people, not all people. Some are calm, who's calm? We now need new tools to navigate this life, new medicine, new ways of living-temporarily? We are not certain. Don't worry, don't panic do not acknowledge your feelings or your thoughts. People are confused about the uncertainty. What are we supposed to feel? What is happening? What feelings are allowed? This is something you have never experienced before. You do not know what to expect, you have no clue how you will feel or what to do if you do react. You are unsettled.
As adults, we worry most when we have to exist in uncertainty. Right now, the uncertainty of life is being highlighted for all of us to see and feel. For some reason there are some of us that believe that life can be controlled. Life can only be experienced, it is impossible to control.
When sad or scary things happen, our brain tries to make sense of it all by referring to what we already know and do. When we don't have anything to refer to because we don't have an internal template for how this new occurrence will impact us, we often start spiraling trying to figure out what we do know, what we can control or who we can blame. Our brains can only base its predictions on our history of experiences. If it is a new experience, our brain starts to guess until it guides us through the experience. Once we go through it, our brain installs a template.
Stop trying to control the unknown, this creates madness especially during a pandemic. Just let your thoughts flow, consciously move into the next stream of thoughts, keep letting them flow until you recognize relief within yourself. Hold onto the thoughts that make you feel grounded. Pay close attention to the thoughts that detail what is actually happening in the moment, not the past or the future. All that you truly have control over is how you allow the experience of life to impact you. If you have never gone through something then it makes sense to be shaken by its impact.
Right now, there is reason for thoughts and feelings of fear, worry and panic to be present. It is a natural human response to what is occurring in our environment. The panic you are experiencing, the fear that is coming up, the anger at the confusion you are having are all instinctual survival responses to uncertainty in safety and security. Remind yourself that it is absolutely fine if you are unsettled at the moment. Experiencing fear or worry right now is a natural response.
Being patient with yourself as you adjust to what is occurring in the world is crucial in maintaining a healthy grasp on your mental health. Give yourself some time to become familiar with the thoughts and the emotions that are coming up for you during this time.
Feeling the feelings is not the problem, responding to the feeling by crying or venting is not an issue. Reacting out of the uncertainty of the feeling is what creates the chaos.
Don't react, respond. It is ok if you are feeling fear right now, little by little your courage will turn your fear into faith.