There are many ways to get through this, and each person has the right to choose their own path. I advocate for the loving path, which means that the way we get through this pandemic is with acceptance, compassion, and kindness.
Through my own social groups, I have experienced a division, a ‘them and us’ mentality that manifests its strongest force through the vaccination debate. I am not going to engage in a ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ discussion here, what I am going to do is highlight that there are many ‘them and us’ debates occurring in our world right now; religious divides, race divides, gender divides, academic divides, financial divides, hierarchical divides, health divides, drinking and driving divides, and underlying all of these dividing factors is one common theme: fear.
When I accept my religious truth, when I accept my ethnicity, when I accept my gender, when I accept my level of academia, state of health, financial status and perceived positioning in my world, and when I accept and take ownership for my choices, then I have no fear of judgement because I am okay with me.
When I accept that I cannot control the choices other people make, that may or may not have consequences for me or my loved ones, then, although I may at times feel angry, I can choose to release my anger, because I cannot control others or what has been, and I cannot make a judgement on the choices made by each individual, because I do not their story; the reasons behind the choices made. Should understanding on individual choices be brought to light, I may develop a new perspective that alters my judgement and dissolves my anger, or not.
When I accept the beliefs of others, even when they contradict my own, then I am at peace with my soul. I cannot change the beliefs of others. I can offer inspiration and a positive influence to invite them to expand or change a point of view, but ultimately that choice, is theirs.
When I embrace my fears and work on myself to manage them, and seek to let go of that which I cannot control, while creating positive solutions, in alignment with my heart-centred values, on what I can control or influence, then I empower myself. From a place of personal power, fear diminishes and life moves on with new possibility and potential to co-create and grow in the areas of my life, my soul and my world, that I want to nurture and give life to.
People have a right to feel afraid; there are very real situations that impact health, life and quality of life. People have a right to feel angry: the lives of many have been turned upside down and thrown into uncertainty. Some have experienced great losses and for others that loss may be still to come. Some fear having a virus, some fear losing loved ones, some fear losing quality of life, some fear relationships crumbling, some fear losing their homes or jobs, some fear vaccines, some fear government agendas, and some fear the unknown. Some of these fears my manifest as truth and some may not. However, regardless of what happens, of what is truth, what is fear actually doing to effect change or influence the outcome? When we let go of what we cannot control and give energy to influencing a positive outcome in areas that matter to us, we may let fear walk beside us and along our path, because we acknowledge it is real and serving as a warning to pay attention, but we do allow it to consume us, limit, restrict or confine us, we keep walking on, living our lives.
The fear of our present climate has created fuel for more people to develop anxiety and depression, to turn against each other; to project anger, hate, and distrust, and to lose sight of hope, possibility, potential, opportunity and the blessing and gifts that can be born through tragedy, change and loss. I write this as a mother who lost a child and who knows the pain of tragedy and that blessings can follow when we choose bravery over fear. We cannot control life and death, but we can choose to live despite our fears and our differences. From this moment, we hold the power to decide that whatever we are going through, whatever we feel, however life has affected us, with whatever we fear, and from where we are at right now, that we have the power to choose to respond with love, or not to. I like to think that with a global tragedy affecting so many at the same time, that the best we can do is use this an opportunity to grow our love, and learn to live in our world with more understanding, acceptance, compassion, and kindness, for ourselves, and each other.
What does responding with love look like?
From a place of depression: If you can, responding with love means taking small gentle steps each day to do something that contributes to your health and happiness. This may be a creative activity, walking in nature, meeting a friend in person or online, cooking something you love, watching a comedy that has the potential to make you laugh, having a warm bath and playing feel good music and no matter what, ensuring you get enough good quality sleep, which is essential to healing and recovery. Once some positive feelings begin to emerge, you may be able to start seeing some hope. If you cannot help yourself, then asking for help is an act of love.
From a place of anger: If you are feeling angry about something that has happened, about what someone has done to you, about choices others have made or might make, about a loss, or because you feel afraid, uncertain or out of control, responding with loves means first deciding how you want to manage the feeling of anger that you are experiencing? A loving response is to go for a workout, sing, shout (but not at someone), or throw feathers fiercely. Once the intensity of the anger has passed, it is deciding, as a person choosing to live from love, how do you want to respond to the anger trigger? If someone has done something to hurt you or has betrayed you, you may want to assert how you feel, ask for an apology, ask for something you want or need? You might not get it, but asking is an act of love and empowerment that also gives the other person a chance to respond in a positive way. If you don’t get what you want, as a person choosing to live from love, how do you want to respond? You can stay angry, you can seek revenge, you can take legal action as an act of self-empowerment, you can move on, and you choose better quality people to be in your life, and you can choose to let your anger go, because holding on to anger only hurts you and affects people around you, and it changes nothing; we cannot change the past and we cannot force others to change. Releasing anger and choosing to move on sets you free and allows your life to move on in new and more peaceful waters.
From a place of uncertainty: it is recognising that this uncertainty is nothing new, because nothing is certain, it never was; some things only appeared that way, like a job contract. If you are triggered by current uncertainty, you were probably triggered by past uncertainty, and you got through that, so you have a track record of surviving feelings of fear about uncertainty.
From a place of being traumatised it is understanding that something outside of your control happened and it has created a response in your brain that has activated your threat response causing you to feel continued anxiety, tension or panic. A loving response is to first of all be gentle, do things to calm and relax your body, so that you body can start to get the message that it is safe now. Then, it is working through your thought processes, to dismantle false beliefs, fear beliefs and distorted beliefs, and start to form a way of thinking that helps you to reclaim your power and reclaim your life. This is described in how we can respond to fear and anxiety below.
From a place of fear or anxiety: It is asking yourself are you actually safe right now (Safe means that your life is not in immediate danger?) If you are not safe, do whatever you can to get to safety. If you feel unsafe but actually you are safe, recognise this and it may bring your anxiety down a level. The next step is to address where you feel insecure, and where you have fear, worry or doubt? Now place each item in a mental box, so that the overwhelm can begin to be managed, by addressing one issue at a time. From a place of wanting to respond with love (care, kindness, compassion, understanding, acceptance and healthy encouragement), consider one challenge at a time and ask: Is this a fact, a fear or a feeling? Is this actually happening or what might happen? If this happens, what positive things could I do for myself, another, or my world?
If we respond to how the pandemic has affected us, however it has, from wherever we are at, and with however we are feeling, with love, by accepting what is, accepting how we feel, and choosing to work on our thought processes and own emotional management responses in kind and positive ways, through self-help practices and or with professional support, our love will enable us to come through this time together. If we move through this pandemic with love, as our collective conscious response, we shall succeed in creating a new normal where the world we live in is a place of greater love. We have the power to create this and this pandemic has provided a perfect opportunity to really challenge us to raise our game; to raise our hearts. When trauma and tragedy enter our lives, we have the power to turn them into blessings that help create move love in the world. This is our power. This power belongs to you.
Written by Antonia Behan © Copyright September 2021
Antonia Behan BSc, MSc, MICF PCC, MBPsS.
Trauma informed adult and adolescent coaching and therapy
Based in Sotogrande, Spain.