Relationships are powerful. We communicate our emotions through them, and the effect of this is exponential. Let’s say I express worry, anxiety and fear in my interactions with a neighbor. He carries those feelings with him to everyone he’s in contact with that day. They in turn do the same. This is how the coronavirus is so effective at spreading worry, anxiety and fear.
Knowing that emotions move through a web of relationships, we can make choices that are calming for us, and that empower us to spread the antidote to worry.
We can each be a powerful source of help to the world around us.
Begin With Ourselves
It’s natural and human to respond to threats with worry, fear and anxiety. These emotions have an important purpose: alerting us to an immediate danger.
Our bodies and minds can get locked into a stress response. Natural as it is, our stress response is more helpful when we’re dealing with an immediate, short term danger. It’s less useful when we’re undergoing ongoing turbulence and change. It’s far more helpful to us, and those around us to find ways to limit and de-escalate worry, fear and anxiety.
Shifting away from worry empowers us to take care of ourselves and to stay calm enough to do and be our best. It allows us to bring love, compassion, and kindness to our relationships. Think about the example above.
If I can stay calm as my neighbor and I discuss our concerns, if I can share the experience of connection and caring, then I’m communicating hope and compassion, and spreading the antidote to worry.
That’s the way to make a positive difference in these very turbulent times!
There’s More, of Course
I’m not minimizing the impact of what’s happening. It’s affecting all of us, our families and communities, and the larger systems we depend on. It’s natural that we’re concerned about the immediate and long term future.
We can hope that our communities and our state and federal government will respond with needed supports. We can urge that they do so, and contribute where we can. We can hold our political representatives and leaders accountable for an effective response to the health and economic impacts of the novel coronavirus outbreak. Speaking up for these needs, taking action on them as possible, and encouraging others to do so is another way to provide an antidote to worry and fear.
Shifting Attention To Joy, Love and Kindess
It’s entirely understandable that facing these realities stirs up worries and fears. To keep from getting tangled up in them, we can give them their due, and then intentionally shift our focus.
Maya Angelou’s beautiful words help me with this, reminding me each day to ask myself how I will:
- Make room for joy.
- Act with love and kindness toward all living beings, including myself.
- Nurture my connections with others.
- Act with respect for this earth and all it’s beings.
Ask yourself these questions each day. Write your responses, and set your intention to act on them. When I do this, I am calmer and more hopeful, even as I continue to be in touch with the difficult realities we’re all dealing with right now.
What most helps you to shift your attention, so that you can help spread the antidote to worry?