When fearful thoughts (pandemic fears) come up do you react in a destructive manner, or a way that you later regret?
Let’s consider better ways to respond that you can feel good about. For example, rather than turning away to avoid the issue that’s creating fear, or panicking and losing perspective, you can practice breathing and grounding yourself to remain present or authentic, (i.e. more who you really are than who your fears are telling you to be).
From a calm place, you’ll make choices that lead you towards being empowered or transformed. To do this takes moving forward – through the fearful thoughts. To move forward follow the 3 Fs. Face it. Feel it. Fix it.
Face it means not running away by distracting yourself, deflecting or justifying the thought. Notice the behaviours you’ve practiced and employed for a long time in order to not feel or face your fears. Recognizing how you stopped yourself in the past is the first step to choosing differently now.
Feel it is to sit with the feeling whatever it is, terror, anxiety, worry, disappointment, sadness, anger, scared, scattered… you get the picture. Give it your attention. Learning to feel your feelings will be one of your bravest steps. Once you’ve grown to accept, allow and feel all feelings you will be free.
Think about how much time and money avoidance has cost you. This can be many things—excessive shopping, drinking, smoking, eating, searching, wasting time, giving yourself away to not feel alone, hurting others to not feel hurt, studying or working harder to not feel unworthy, unimportant or not enough. The list of possibilities goes on.
Feelings are meant to flow through you. Emotions = Energy in Motion. Think of children. Their feelings are fluid and move quickly when they are young—from happy to angry to sad to happy again. They haven’t learned yet to ‘judge’ what they should or shouldn’t feel, so they don’t stop their feelings.
Fix it can also be called Forgive it. Learn to forgive yourself for all the ways you’ve hurt yourself, for believing the stories you told yourself—you needed to be more or better to be acceptable, or you would never be good enough so what’s the point. Believe me when I tell you, that’s not true. YOU MADE IT UP!!! Now at one time, you probably had a very good reason for making it up, probably from your younger years. It may have helped you survive through difficult, imperfect or even dangerous situations. But it’s hurting you now. And it’s been hurting you for quite some time. Continuing to react and act from that story is recreating the familiar situation from long ago and appearing to prove the story true when it isn’t. Thankfully, you can choose to create a different experience.
Fixing it can also simply mean to breathe — into your belly, then expanding your chest. Hold the breath. Notice how, as you hold your breath, your body relaxes as it’s being filled with needed oxygen. Then repeat.
From this calmer place, your deeper knowing of whether to do something about the fearful situation or not will emerge. The action of getting to calm is the best first response. You are connecting to a deeper knowing of yourself (like with meditation). I like to call this deeper knowing your GPS – your Greatest Potential Self. The more you bring this to your life and each decision you make, the more empowered, peaceful, excited and confident you will experience feeling in your life.
Use this time to explore your values and envision the truest most beautiful version of your life. With this GPS as your guide, you can get through and not only survive this uncertain, disorienting time, but thrive and grow. Awareness helps us be more awake to what we are experiencing. To thrive takes awareness to be awake to your experiencing and your ability to create so that you can take care of yourself and others.
Keep Calm and Carry On.
Liz Coleman, RTC, is a Registered Therapeutic Counsellor based in Surrey, BC. She specializes in anxiety, anger, insecurity, and relationship problems. If you have any questions about this article or would like to schedule an appointment, please call Ms. Coleman at (604) 809-8947 or use the convenient form on her Contact page.