“If you fully knew who created you, and who walks beside you, you would never be afraid.”Neale Donald Walsch
I’ve never, you’ve never, we have never experienced anything like this in our lives. COVID-19 has really made me look at fear, but has also reminded me of all I have learned about recognizing fear has prepared me for this. This is a time of uncertainty, unknown and so much learning. But also unlearning, which we have to do so much of because we are taught to fear so much, even fear itself. We are even taught to fear emotional discomfort, which is why every week I have been saying, “You feel it, it matters. Period.”
With many of us feeling like we are in this unknown and uncertain time, learning how to swim in these unchartered waters, we may be thinking, “Am I strong enough to handle this? Am I capable of learning all the new things I might have to learn to adjust in my business and/or life? Am I going to be okay? Is my family going to be okay?”
First of all, the answer to all of those questions is YES! I don’t have a crystal ball showing me when this will end, but I do know that you are strong enough. I do know that you are capable enough. And I do know that you are going to be okay. It isn’t if you get through this, it is when and how. You might be afraid, but that’s okay.
Unknown can ignite fear.
Uncertainty can ignite fear.
Other people’s fear can ignite fear.
When we feel like our safety and the safety of our loved ones is at risk, it can ignite fear, worry and concern.
Fear can make you fight (fists up, defenses on high alert), or it can make you run (flight and head for the hills), or it can make you freeze (I’m not going to do anything, I’m going to stay right here where I’m protected).
EVERYONE has a fear response. Our body is designed to help us through dangerous situations with a natural defense system: the sympathetic nervous system. COVID-19 happened, our brain took in the trigger, it ignited our defense system, and it responded, “oh no, she or he is in trouble, turn on the defaults – fight, flight or freeze.”
Our brain is so protective and we should be incredibly grateful for that because we need it to keep us safe, but we must question the fear to ensure that what we are feeling is true, life or death, I’m in danger fear. “Do I actually have to fight, flight or freeze in this situation?” Fear can also be a signal that we have stepped into the unknown, and the unknown is where many of us are right now. We feel the fear because we have never experienced this.
We Each Have Our Own Default
What is your current default? Are you in fight, flight or freeze?
I would like to get us all to a more calming response where we can just question it and then decide what we should do, and how we should react and respond in a way that serves us instead of making our central nervous system be on high alert.
I don’t want you to get rid of fear. Instead, what I want is to help you train your brain to know what fear it needs to say, “Run! Bear!” Instead of “Fight! You just got asked to stay home. Danger! Hoard! Protect yourself at all costs!” Or the fear that makes you feel so paralyzed that getting out of bed feels like too much. I don’t want that for you.
I felt fear when this first happened. I feared for my safety, for the loss of my business, for the safety of my family and friends. I still have fear come up, especially when I read the news. But I have been telling myself for the past 5 weeks that I’m safe, that it is okay to feel worry and concern, but I don’t need to take panicked action. I have been transforming my fear into faith by taking care of my mental and emotional health, connecting with my loved ones so I know they are safe, and giving myself massive amounts of grace for feeling anything that I’m feeling.
Courage isn’t the absence of fear. We ALL feel fear. Fear will always be with you, but that does not mean you have to take action or respond immediately. So you see, the antidote to fear isn’t stopping yourself from ever feeling fear, it is questioning it, “Am I in a true dangerous, life or death experience? How do I want to respond or react to this situation?” It is also knowing that you are strong enough, and capable enough, and claiming how you feel, not bypassing how you feel. Claiming it before it claims you simply means putting yourself back in the driver’s seat, saying to yourself, “I’m driving now, not you fear, and don’t worry, I won’t go over the cliff.”
How Do We Transform Our Fears Into Faith?
We transform our fears into faith by walking with our fear.
We transform our fears into faith by questioning our fear, and telling ourselves that it is okay to be afraid, we are not in any danger, it is safe to take inspired action, even with the fear walking beside us.
We transform our fear into faith by saying, “I’m scared.” Claiming it before it claims us.
We transform our fear into faith by taking care of what is in front of us today. What do you actually have control over today, in this moment?
We transform our fear into faith by recognizing that unless we are in a true dangerous situation, where fear is so perfectly necessary to get us to safety, it is often a worry to something that has not happened yet, or in the case of what we are experiencing with this global pandemic, we are in such an unknown and uncertain phase that it is only natural to feel what we are feeling, but we do not have to take action, or inaction because of our fears. So before you make your next decision, ask yourself, “is this decision supporting me, or is it supporting my fears?”
If you are feeling fear, I encourage you to write about it. When you are able to identify your fearful thoughts, you can pay attention to the triggers before fear becomes a full-blown fight, flight or freeze response. This is not just about programming your mind to work for you, it is also about self-awareness, so you don’t have to work so hard to recalibrate. All of these tools are just another resource to help you strengthen and keep strong, your mental, emotional and attitudinal muscles.
- Start by writing down all the ways you are feeling fear right now.
- Where do you feel it in your body?
- How would you like to respond or react instead of fight, flight or freeze?
This will help you to claim your fear before it claims you. When you feel it coming on, call a friend, question it, call a coach, or turn to any tool that you know works for you before it becomes a full on fight, flight or freeze attack.
And remember, it is okay to feel whatever you feel. You feel it, it matters. We just need to pay attention to where we are taking up permanent residence and asking ourselves if we like where we are living.