Ease Anxiety and Find Certainty Amidst The Coronavirus Outbreak
Updated: Mar 22, 2020
“You ask what is our aim? I can answer in one word: victory. Victory at all costs. Victory in spite of all terror, victory however long and hard the road may be; for without victory, there is no survival.” Winston Churchill
People across the globe are feeling threatened. Majorly threatened. In fact, according to recent polls, more than two-thirds of Americans are somewhat or very concerned about the current epidemic. This has caused a panic in companies, among business owners and entrepreneurs, and among leaders. This panic is leading to the loss of jobs. Many know elderly people who could lose their lives to this pandemic. There is a lot of uncertainty and this uncertainty is challenging us beyond what we might think we can survive… emotionally, physically, financially, mentally....
And what is scary is that very few are immune to this panic. That’s what I experienced first-hand today.
The second I stepped into the grocery store, I felt my energy shift from calm and relaxed to worried, anxious, and majorly stressed. The line of people with glazed-over eyes and carts loaded to the brim seemed to be a mile long, and the looks on shoppers’ faces were very different than usual. “Is the coronavirus really that big of a threat?” I thought. Usually, I consider this my friendly neighborhood store. But not today. Today the air was saturated with hysteria. Shoppers’ frantic glances bounced from shelf to shelf, searching for additional items to toss into their carts.
The fear was palpable.
The fear was primal.
The fear was… overwhelming.
I almost felt like I had stepped into a war zone where its shell-shocked victims could think of nothing else than survival. It was as if I had entered a horror movie. As I weaved through the aisles trying to find the few items I had initially come for, I found myself throwing more and more items into my cart. It was as if everyone else’s energy was clutching hold of me, seeping into my veins. And the worst part was that there wasn’t a thing I could do to stop it.
At the end of my disorienting shopping journey, and as I situated myself at the end of the impossibly long line, I looked at my cart. I had intended to pick up three items but my cart was bustling at the seams.
How had I managed to fill my cart with so much stuff that things were literally falling out of it?
I felt self-conscious as I placed item after item after item onto the conveyor belt, trying to pretend I didn’t have this underlying feeling that the world was coming to an end. I heard myself apologize to the cashier for how many things I was buying and told her that on behalf of all us fear-stricken people here today, we were sorry.
In a confused state, I loaded my groceries into the trunk of my car and headed home. Once I had stuffed all the food and water into pantries that were already full, I had a moment to sit down at my kitchen table and reflect on my unusual behavior. I truly believe that we as a humanity are greater than the threats we are facing in our world today. I truly, deeply, 100% believe we will emerge from this pandemic stronger, wiser, and better than we were before. So what had happened to me at the store? Why had I gone hog-wild? And why was I still feeling anxious and upset? I wasn’t upset that I had bought extra groceries. Being prepared is not a negative in my book.
So why was I feeling so anxious? On edge? And what had caused me to lose my reasoning abilities the second I had stepped into the store? It was as if my body had taken over and I had become a part of the collective mind of the frantic shoppers. I didn’t feel I had chosen to go into panic. I just had. It hadn't been a conscious decision. It was an automatic reaction.
As I sat and thought about what had happened, it surprised me to realize that somehow, unconsciously, I had concluded that food would run out. I had concluded that I was in danger. And not only that, I had concluded that my and my childrens’ lives were at stake. And all of it was unconscious.
This made it so that I hadn’t acted from a reasonable, calm place like I usually do in stressful situations. In fact, back there in the store, reason was nowhere to be found. I was in a primal, fearful state.
In short, my fight/flight response had flipped on and was running the show.
As humans, we are wired to fear the unknown. We are wired to crave certainty at all costs… We are wired for survival. It’s a natural and healthy response to go into fight-or-flight mode when our lives are being threatened.
But was there a real threat for me in that moment? No. Is it likely that food will run out? No. But my mind created a story that said there would be no more food, that our lives were being threatened, and that I needed to take action immediately before it was too late.
The mind is a magnificent story-teller. Its job is to sift and sort through information, make sense of it, and give it meaning. We create stories about our situations, about others, about everything all day every day. These stories aren’t the truth. They are our perceptions of reality. But the kicker is that our minds can’t tell the difference between what is real and imagined. Our brains react to the stories we tell ourselves, not to what is. The reason so many are in a state of panic isn’t because they have contracted the coronavirus. They are in a state of panic because they perceive the coronavirus to be a major threat.
If you are feeling fear, anxiety, or panic, it’s not your fault. This is a natural response. There is nothing to be ashamed of. And let’s be honest, the media isn’t making it any easier by doling out the most sinister titles they can think of just to sell a story. They are not exactly helping us to create a mindset that encourages unity, calmness, healing, or faith, a belief that says: we as a nation, we as a planet, we as a humanity can and will get through this.
However, it’s sobering to see that most people, even our leaders, haven’t been taught how to manage our emotions in the face of a crisis. We haven’t been taught how to create a mindset that benefits us in perilous times rather than hurts us.
What I’m seeing as I scroll through Social Media is that most of us don’t even believe it’s possible to approach the emergency we’re all facing in a different way--because we know no other way. In an effort to relieve the anxiety and stress we are feeling, to feel like we have some shred of control over our lives, we look for “who” to blame. The democrats… The republicans… The Chinese… The President… The people who are overreacting and are hoarding food and toilet paper… The people who don’t take this seriously enough and think it’s a joke.
We’re looking for relief, any relief from the anxiety and fear, the panic, the anger, all in an attempt to try to avoid thinking about the worst-case scenario… the unimaginable…
Perhaps somewhere deep inside we know that blaming isn’t really the answer. Hoarding isn’t the answer. Turning against our fellow human beings isn’t the answer. However, many are too caught up in their fight-or-flight responses to think and act in a loving way. Many are too hypnotized by the worst-case scenario to realize that the coronavirus and how we respond to it are two completely separate subjects.
Yes, the coronavirus is a threat to us physically. We must take every precaution to avoid spreading it. But our perception of the virus’ threat, how we represent this to ourselves is equally threatening. This means that the problem isn’t just physical (the virus) but it is also with our mindsets… our fear culture. If we continue down this fear path as a nation, as a globe, the repercussions from this pandemic will be all the more dire.
Even so, most people, like the shoppers in the store, myself included at that moment, feel there is no other way than to panic, hoard, and go into survival mode as we wait for what feels like our end of the world.
But there is.
And the best thing we can do for our families, for our community, for our country, and ultimately for the world is to take courage, re-center ourselves, and decide whether we want to be a person who reacts and descends into fear… or responds by rising above the calamities and finds certainty in the future victory of humanity.
So, if you are struggling, if you are anxious, if you have experienced the effects of this pandemic on a very personal level, whether that be physically, financially, mentally, or emotionally, how do you make the mental shift and move into a place of hope, faith, and calm?
It is impossible to reason ourselves out of our panicked state. It wasn’t until after I got home and was out of the environment and had been able to calm down a little that I was able to think rationally again. When we are in the clutches of our fight-or-flight response, there’s usually little we can do to get out of it. Usually, the momentum is too great and all we can do is ride out the wave. So if you find yourself panicking or feeling anxious, try and soothe yourself (Feel free to PM me for a link to my Release Anxiety Method).
After we have returned to neutral, we have the choice to go on with our lives and try to ignore what happened, hoping the next wave won’t take us with it… or we have an opportunity to learn from what happened and discover ways in which we can stop falling victim to our stories and to our circumstances.
As I sat at my kitchen table and reflected on my knee-jerk reaction back at the grocery store, I realized that I had bought into my and other people’s fear. It was as if every cell in my body had picked up on the frenzied energy in the store and my subconscious concluded that my life was in danger. I got swept up into the madness, and without even fully realizing it, I was thrust into fight-or-flight mode. And I suddenly found myself feeding into the massive panic that is sweeping the world instead of contributing to the calm we are all seeking.
It became very clear to me that there were two distinct reasons for why I had been caught up in my fears. Number one was that I had automatically picked up on everyone else’s energy and it became part of my own. Very few of us are immune to this phenomenon. Number two was that I had unconsciously concluded that there was a real threat.
I knew that fear and panic was not what I wanted to put out into the world. I wanted to be part of the solution, not the problem. I wanted to give peace. I wanted to help heal. Further, I knew I needed to find a way in which to be in better control over my mental and emotional state.
I realized I had a few decisions to make. And so I did.
In a calm state, I decided exactly how I was going to respond to this crisis. I decided I was no longer going to buy into my, other people’s, or the media’s worst-case fears. I decided I would approach this pandemic with faith, trust, kindness, compassion, service, and resourcefulness. No matter what.
I decided to have faith in humanity's future victory, to trust in my ability to make it through, and to offer my kindness and compassion through my willingness to serve. “Every time I hear the word coronavirus, or COVID-19,” I promised myself, “that’s my cue to remind myself that I am either contributing to global fear... or to global faith… To remind myself that I can choose to see myself as a victim, or see myself as a victor... To remind myself that instead of judging others for how they are dealing with this crises, I’ll show compassion… To remind myself that I can either show my children through example that this world is a scary and uncertain place, or teach them how to deal with the most disquieting situations in a healthy way by finding their inner strength and calm.”
Winston Churchill said, “You ask what is our aim? I can answer in one word: victory. Victory at all costs. Victory in spite of all terror, victory however long and hard the road may be; for without victory, there is no survival.”
The victory we are all seeking for is the victory over both pandemics… the coronavirus... and our fears… We become victorious when we band together, not when we attack others because they are different than us. We become victorious every time we choose to help rather than shrink into our fears. We become victorious when we choose to show love, compassion, kindness, and generosity rather than from fear.
Even though we are living in uncertain times, it doesn’t mean we have to feel uncertain. We can find the certainty we are seeking for inside of ourselves. Although it might seem like we are living through an apocalypse, now more than ever, we have the power to make this time a rime to reflect. With adequate support, with healthy mindsets, and with the right focus, we can be more powerful than ever. In times of weakness, we have the opportunity to call on our strengths. In times of uncertainty, we have the ability to find certainty within ourselves. In times of panic, we have the opportunity to become the calm that we seek. Amidst this crisis, we have more power than ever to make a positive difference.
Franklin D. Roosevelt said, “This is a time to speak the truth, the whole truth, frankly and boldly. Nor need we shrink from honestly facing conditions in our country today. This great Nation will endure as it has endured, will revive and will prosper. So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself—nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.”
We still have so much to be thankful for. The peace and happiness we are seeking can be accomplished without our circumstances changing. In fact, we are the happiest when we stop believing that we are victims of our circumstances and instead understand that we have the power to create our circumstances.
Today is a perfect day to choose to uplift the energy of our planet. It’s the perfect time to rise up and serve instead of retreating into our fears. Give yourself permission to shine the light that is uniquely yours. By showing compassion and love through service, by practicing patience and offering friendship, we make this world a better place.
As fellow human beings, we are here to serve each other, to love one another, to thrive against the odds, to give, and to bless. This trying time is the perfect opportunity to step into our own greatness and to help inspire others to their greatness.
Perhaps this epidemic will help us wake up from the unconscious fears that are dominating our lives and our societies. Perhaps this is an opportunity to eradicate the silent killers of self-doubt and worry. Perhaps it’s time to stop thinking of others as separate from ourselves by judging them and instead seeing that they are more like us than they are different.
It seems we are being asked to finally stop approaching life as a dress rehearsal and instead live each day with conviction and purpose. We are being asked to no longer go along with the status quo, to no longer be fed fear, to no longer accept fear mongering from the media or other sources, ourselves included.
We all face difficult days before us. But we don’t have to face it alone. Instead, we can move forward with loving courage in global unity.
It's time to draw upon the invincibility of the human spirit. Each of us is a thread in the beautiful tapestry of human existence. Although times may seem dark, we are the light we are looking for.
Each of us has a decision to make.
What if we decide to make this our finest hour...
What if we decide to be victorious at all costs...
What if we decide that we will navigate these perilous times without fear....
What if we decide to find the certainty inside ourselves.
What if we decide to be kind, loving, and compassionate... to ourselves and others...
What if we decide that we are already victorious....
So… let me ask you this… What will you decide?