How do we move toward love (and away from fear)? I was reading a blog post today sent to me by a dear colleague and I thought it warranted being re-published. Ingrid Fetell Lee, author of The Aesthetics of Joy, wrote about what she experienced after listening to Sylvia Boorstein, writer and Buddhist teacher. She quotes Boorstein saying:
“…I was thinking about the GPS in my car. It never gets annoyed at me. If I make a mistake, it says, “Recalculating.” And then it tells me to make the soonest left turn and go back. I thought to myself, you know, I should write a book and call it “Recalculating” because I think that that’s what we’re doing all the time, that something happens, it challenges us and the challenge is, OK, so do you want to get mad now? …There’s a fork in the road here. I could become indignant; I could flame up this flame of negativity; or I could say, “Recalculating.” I’ll just go back here.”
She is correct in that we are all being forced to “recalculate” during this unprecedented time of crisis. Life as we know it has completely changed. There are unfathomable atrocities going on – not only in America – but throughout the world. It seems everyone is operating from a place of fear (instead of love). This is not to discount or minimize the very real fears that people have about the future, but moreover, to offer a little perspective. After all, we still possess the ability to choose how we respond to events and situations in our lives. We decide whether we allow ourselves to be overcome by fear and hopelessness or whether we “recalculate” and move toward a more peaceful state of being.
It is easy to get caught up in the constant stream of negative media attention surrounding the Coronavirus. You can’t turn on the TV without immediately being overwhelmed… and scared. The negativity is unrelenting. It perpetuates a constant state of fear. While a healthy level is normal and can help guide our actions on daily basis, too much fear leads to panic and chaos.
Try to remember that, while it’s okay to be informed, it doesn’t mean you have to internalize all of it. Perhaps, instead of immediately reacting, go outside for some fresh air, take a walk, return to center and, most importantly, know that this, like everything else in our lives, shall pass. Continue doing what needs to be done to stay safe and protect others. However, try not to engage others by repeating the news reports, discussing it, bringing it up over and over again, “Did you hear the latest death tolls?” etc. This only adds fuel to the already raging fear-based fire.
Acceptance – this is taught repeatedly in 12-step philosophies, “…and acceptance is the answer to all my problems today.” Lee suggests that, if we accept that we are in this situation (lost), we can stop struggling and begin to evaluate where we are and what we can do to stay positive. When you release the fear, you open up space in your mind for ideas and opportunities to surface. If you think about it, this is a rare opportunity to tap into your intuition and get to know yourself a little better. You will be amazed at how empowering it can feel! Understand that the feelings about the pandemic are natural, but know that we are all in this together. When it gets overwhelming, try to remember to accept, stay positive, grateful and then… recalculate.