This week, amidst all that is currently going on in the world, a quote I shared in 2013 spontaneously reemerged out of the archival depths of the Facebook servers and has been doing the rounds. Join me this week if you're interested in a discussion about how and why this quote can be and what we can do to stay on track to living, loving, engaging with life and finding new ways to connect, despite all of this.
Fear is adaptive in a few respects:
-Protection: It has it’s useful evolutionary protective function by reminding us to be cautious in dangerous circumstances
-Reconnection: It beckons us to reconnect with and start listening to ourselves at times when our head has been off in the clouds of whatever vision or project we’ve been completely consumed with. Or have been running away with ‘what if’s’ And can be one of the triggers from within that can bring us back out of worrying about the future and back into the NOW. It puts us back into connection with our own life force and wakes us back up into feeling ALIVE.
-Education: And it is also a very effective teacher, if we choose to sit in class for the lesson.
In the end, it’s what we DO with all that energy next that makes it either helpful, or maladaptive.
If we try and shut it down, stuff it down and ignore it, or run away from whatever caused it, for example:
-the central object at the heart of a phobia (eg the spider, the dog, the virus) or
-the experience at the heart of one e.g. the act of standing in front of a room of people, being rejected in business, being rejected in dating, abandonment, criticism or negative feedback, ill health or potential death
the downside is that we may never learn to be emotionally resilient, or get to practice staying centred and grounded in the face of that potential threat. Which, in turn, means, that we might miss out on the ‘good good’ that’s waiting on the other side of dealing with it. We might miss out on living life.
Part of the reason that both adrenaline junkies and people working with, say an Hypnotherapist or NLP Practitioner or Coach on a specific phobia end up overcoming that fear, is not just because of the specific techniques used. But because the act of being brought face to face with their fear, makes them have to stay and be present with the experience of the fear, for maybe the first time. And in staying present with this thing, this thing that they’ve built it up in their minds with a thousand repetitive thoughts and stories full of whatever evidence they’ve seen reinforce their worst fears about that thing or experience to be valid, they then have no choice but to experience the ACTUAL reality about that thing and to start to realise a new truth about it, instead.
That, whatever the thing was, neither the experience of their fear of that thing, or the actual thing itself, actually killed them (or was ever likely to.) And that they DID in fact cope in the face of it, once they stopped trying so hard to control and repress all their reactions to it and just let what is essentially the healing and transformation process flow into happening…and then they inevitably got to the other side of the experience, in which they start to go something like, “oh hey, actually that wasn’t as bad as I thought, actually I CAN cope with this, this is how I do it, i'm stronger than i thought. I can do this!”…and a whole new mental story and a shift in the beliefs that underly it starts to develop.
Which ultimately then allows you to start being around that thing or experience in a whole new way. And with repeatedly being around it further, your capacity to stay centred and present despite it, and maintain your perspective despite it, builds. More than that, from this more centred place, you can now consciously choose to direct your thoughts and channel your energy into creating a different experience, one that moves you towards your end goal and in the direction of what you desired in the first place, rather than AWAY from it.
This is why simply trying to shift our thoughts and lift our vibrational frequency to create a better, healthier, happier reality alone doesn’t always work in resolving a phobia and the web of past traumas that are interwoven with it. It can become a bypass strategy that helps us feel something better and formulate a vision of living what we want instead. But if that is our only response every time a fear comes up, it’s still a bit like driving AROUND the block in the middle of the road, without anyone stopping to drag it OFF the road and or take it somewhere for recycling or reuse for another purpose. It can STILL keep us running away from and never being able to actually be resilient and stay centred in the face of the thing we feared. Which can end up cutting us off from both our power to make a choice, our capacity to truly channel our energy into creating what we really want and most importantly a hell of a lot of amazing experience of life that may be waiting on the other side of that fear.
Fear does not ultimately protect us from death, if we end up spending all our time and energy trying to avoid what we’re so afraid of, let alone avoid and completely eliminate fear itself. It can cut us off from the experience of life and feeling alive and truly living and loving how we wish we could. And then we can end up 'dying' in a whole other way. We end up surviving. But at what cost to really living?
Which is why as we sit at a place in life right now, where there is SO much fear and false information getting around about Coronavirus, I say that, while YES absolutely there are things we need to DO right now to reduce the risk of transmission and maintain our health and wellbeing, we need to also be really careful that we don’t get so caught up in our fear response, that it blocks us from from living and find new or alternative ways to KEEP loving and engaging with life fully anyway.
If you want to get some reliable facts, what to do's and perspective on the health aspects to help alleviate the fear of the unknown, watch this TED talk by Global Health Expert Alanna Shaikh below:
But then, it’s also important that we get reconnected and move through all the feels, get the download and keep flowing onwards to the place where we can KEEP focusing and channelling our energy into being, doing and living with and from love.
Why do I also say any of this? Because I know what it’s like to live with the stress of being diagnosed with some scary virus and I know what it’s like dealing with the fear and the host of reactions it triggers in the people around you. I had my own experiences of how to navigate that. And I spent many hours within my Women’s Wellbeing practice speaking about and working with both women and men who had recently found out that they’d been diagnoses with HSV 1 or 2, or who had long had it (and or been navigating various other co-existing sexual health concerns) and were struggling with how to navigate dating, relating and LIVING with it, at times when they had to occasionally ‘distance themselves’ physically because of it. So I’m somewhat familiar with the range of reactions we have when we’re confronted with a tiny virus we don’t know much about, let alone how to control it and we’re afraid might threaten our health, our loved one/s health, our relationships and how people might perceive or engage with us in public view, should they find out. And a lot of that experience is transferrable to how we navigate Corona in the present moment.
A lot of my work involved not just talking to people about the practical health aspects of how to live with it and prevent infection, but also Louise Hay style, trying to get a grasp on the psycho-biological and psychosomatic manifestation of both the initial and later ‘attacks’ of the virus and WHY it keeps coming back (because, interestingly, like our fear as a teacher above, it DOES seem to stop manifesting when you get the download on what it’s trying to teach you and take appropriate action accordingly) as well as in helping people believe that they CAN create and then CREATE an awesome quality of life and amazing relationships DESPITE having and us all potentially living with this crazy little virus.
Like many people, when I first got HSV 2, I (temporarily) thought my life was somewhat 'over.' I thought no man would every touch me or want me again once they found out about it. Like many, i fell into such a deep, dark, depressed hole, grieving the future loss of physical intimacy. And I was terrified of how people would judge me and shame me and maybe distance me for having it. And yet, ironically, it was in the first few months AFTER I got it, that I ended up getting into one of the longest, most beautiful relationships that I’d been in so far. Ok, so that relationship later ended for a different set of reasons and when a separate set of patterns came into play. But what i never anticipated was that, as a result of having that virus, I had to start navigating relationships and life in a whole different way. Actually, a much healthier one than before.
Before, I’d jump into bed trying to please and convince a guy that I was worth his time, with not NEARLY enough regard at times for my own wellbeing, while hoping for some relational outcome. But that virus MADE me have to start loving myself, valuing myself, be more honest and direct in my communication and have better boundaries from minute one. By forcing me to take my vagina OUT of the equation at times, for their benefit as much as mine, it taught me to start focusing on creating and nurturing a friendship with a partner before anything else, and over trying to be a master seductress people pleaser to prove that I was something a guy should madly WANT. When I started coming from THAT place in romantic and intimate relationships going forward, the whole game changed. And in the years after, I’ve had some relationships and connections that were definitely powerful sources of healing OTHER things. BUT honestly, i share any of this because that little virus has a) properly managed, NEVER EVER infected anyone else I’ve ever been with since I got it 2) NEVER been a block to me having had some of the most sexually fulfilling and adventurous years of my life and living a life I love and 3) never got in the way of me being able to HAVE a relationship and live a quality of life I love. (While other things certainly HAVE instead of it.) So, in the end, I have a whole heap of love and gratitude for that crazy little virus, because it taught me how to do life a WHOLE lot better.
Corona may be from a different family of viruses all together and scary because it’s a new strain. But many of the lessons are, paradoxically, the same.
Many of the common reactions that Alanna Shaikh talks about in the video above, that she’s seen while managing global outbreaks of Corona (and other outbreaks), are exactly the same. Being afraid of getting it and worrying what it might do to our own health, it bringing up our fear of mortality, being afraid of what it might do to others we love, being afraid we might be cut out from the herd and shamed or isolated if we admit that we have it, and not wanting to be alone or lose our friends, colleagues or loved ones for disclosing we might have it, being afraid of what damage it will do to our reputation and public standing if people find out we have it. Being afraid what will happen and what we will lose if we DON’T do or say anything. Feeling ashamed and embarrassed. Not knowing how long this will take and just wanting it to be over. Wanting to be able to DO something, anything to be able to manage our fear and do what we can to get a sense of control again.
My question for us all though is:
What is this virus also showing and teaching each of us about our individual and collective ways of living and doing things? What is the fear REALLY about? Go head to head with your fear and uncover what's in it and you might just succeed in engaging in life and relationships in a whole new way on the other side.
There is a time and place to be vigilant in trying to protect ourselves and others from it, as an act of love and care. But may we be careful NOT to get so lost in the fear of it, that we stop living, loving, engaging with life and finding new ways to connect. No virus or illness can ever take that away from you. I promise you.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.