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Screw fear, and doubly screw giving my joy and hope away.
Recently, I had a phone date with a dear friend, but instead of enjoying the joyous heart-centered conversation that I usually enjoy with her, I felt fear and frustration.
During our conversation, there was an underlying pressure—a pressure of expectation that I should worry more, do more, and fear more.
My joy, of starting back my acupuncture practice and my hope of summer camp for my lonely daughter were questioned and tempered with the reality of safety precautions. I felt the fire of excitement and hope extinguished with a bucket full of fear.
Did my friend do this? Did she extinguish my fire? Did she take away my joy and hope, or did I let her? Did her questions simply ignite my own anxieties, worries, and fears?
Yes, my friend tends to be hypervigilant and often overly cautious. But, if I did not feel the same fear inside of me, her concerns would have bounced off my back.
Instead of compassionately listening to my sweet friend, I felt my mind go into overdrive justifying my every action and even my planned future actions. I reasoned with her that summer camp is a closed container, that my daughter’s emotional well-being depends on being with kids again, that all my acupuncture patients wear a mask.
I went on and on, belaboring my points of safety, how I was not worried, and that I was not going to let fear run the show.
I sounded almost convincing. I said the same things repeatedly just using different words for my benefit. I was desperately trying to make myself believe the words coming out of my mouth. The more I talked the more I felt my fear take center stage, and my joy step off to the side.
My frustration was not with my friend, but with my own fears. My frustration was with my own inner turmoil and with so easily losing my joy.
Some amount of fear is healthy, as it keeps us from stepping into oncoming traffic and taking undue risk. For example, during a global pandemic, it is just smart to do things like keep distance, wear a mask, don’t hug random strangers, or lick the checkout counter at the grocery store. I know I’m being ridiculous with the licking thing but really I do believe in embracing joy and still being wise about the ways of the world. So this is not about throwing caution to the wind when that is not of benefit to me, you, or anyone around us.
The question is how can we be in a global pandemic and live in more joyous and less fearful ways?
For me, the first step is sitting compassionately with my fear and understanding that it is the normal chemical reaction of fight, flight, or freeze (a sympathetic nervous system response).
We are all hardwired to experience fear—sometimes in heaping doses. Our current world pandemic is just that—a ginormous spoonful of fear. While fear is normal, justified, and sometimes necessary, we still have a choice.
We can choose where we place our focus. We can choose to do our inner work. I have the choice to let my friend’s questioning rob me of my excitement or whether I stand firm in my own truth. I have the choice to live with integrity so that when someone questions my doing enough I can say, “Yes, I know in my soul that I’m doing the best that I can and I choose to celebrate my efforts.”
Pull your fears close in, like a sweet child, and hear them. Allow for them to switch in a split second to something else just like a child often does with their emotions. Be ready to let go and embrace the joy, the peace, the excitement, the freedom, and the happiness that is waiting, begging to come in.
Claim it. Claim the joy that is your birthright. Be alive.