Let go of fear? How the heck do we do THAT? There are terrorists all over the world trying to wipe us off the face of the earth, there are road rage folk who want to go to battle in their cars, there are lone gunmen (or gunwomen, for all I know), there are bears and alligators and killer bees and bugs carrying the Zika virus that are out to do us in, and so on and on and on. Just listening to five minutes of the news will probably give us brain cancer. It seems that everyone and everything is riled up to a fare-thee-well. It’s just plain nuts in the world today.
So, knowing all that, how do we keep fear from taking us over and turning us into lumps of quivering protoplasm, unable to do anything but shake and worry?
Note: I have to interrupt myself here. It’s actually hilarious that I am writing this post about how not to be afraid. I am a big scaredy-pants, worried about things like this:
- someone will break into our house and take our stuff. Worse, let the cats out.
- leaving an overhead fan on too long will cause it to eventually burst into flame, and burn down the house.
- I will step on a large and irritable hermit crab in the dark.
- I will wake up with a big spider on my face.
…and so on. This is why I am writing this post, to help you AND me.
Upon hearing something fearful, like another attack on another city, the killing of innocent people, I ask myself, what can I do? If donating blood will help, I will do that. If all I can do is pray for the families of those lost, I will. But beyond that, I don’t know how to help.
If only the newscasters who bring us these terrifying news bits each day would just go off script, look directly into the camera and say: ‘To you watching and listening to this, here’s what you can do to help RIGHT NOW.’ I’m talking about events as large and as devastating as 9/11; so how DO you help?
Here’s what doesn’t help:
- beating yourself up because you can’t do anything about the latest devastating event.
- worrying constantly that something bad will happen right here, right now.
- feeling guilty because you and yours are safe and sound.
- feeling that you are somehow at fault because you have all that you need and others do not.
Here’s what does help:
- Wishing well and/or praying for those in the midst of crisis—where intent goes, energy follows.
- Be good to everyone as best you can, including yourself.
- Be thankful for each breath, each hug, each kiss, each day—they are gifts.
- Be compassionate as much as you are able.
So about being in fear—it takes effort, but you can train your brain to NOT fear. This doesn’t mean that you stop being careful and using common sense. I realize that I can lose my life at any second, but I’m not going to live as if it’s going to happen right NOW.
Here is a little trick I learned from Elizabeth Gilbert’s “Eat, Pray, Love.” She talks about meditation and how hard it is to focus; to keep your mind from wandering, and especially to keep destructive thoughts out of your mind. So she pictured herself as a beautiful island, full of lovely palm trees, golden sand, brightly colored birds, delicious fruit, and so on.
In her mind she built a harbor for her island; this was the only way onto the island. At the mouth of the harbor was a large sign that read something to the effect of “anything good and useful and beautiful may come in to my island. Any ship bearing anger, or illness, or worry, or fear, or resentment may turn around and leave. You are not welcome on my island.”
When I have absorbed bad energy from something or someone, this is what I keep in my mind: that lovely and peaceful island. No one and nothing bad can come in; only good. I see big ships painted with words that say “disaster!” or “FEAR!” or “worry!” or “anger!” or “resentment”–all trying to dock at the harbor, but all being turned away, back out to sea.
I constantly have to let fear go because I know that I have done what I could and cannot make myself sick over what I know I can’t help. When 9/11 happened, in my mind I saw myself as a super hero, running into the flames and destruction over and over again to save all those people. I swooped down to catch all those who jumped, I carried person after person out of the flames, murmuring, ‘it’s all right, you are safe, I won’t let you die.’ How I wish that had been true.
But I have no super powers except the love and good energy I send out. Sometimes that is all we can give. And if that truly is all we can offer in the face of so much upheaval, suffering, and hurt, then we have done SOMETHING. Having done that something, we must let the fear and hurt go so that it does not poison us. This does not mean we don’t care; we do care, deeply. It means that we are doing all we can, as well as saving our own sanity and focus, therefore making us able to keep radiating positive energy.
It isn’t just letting go of fear, it is choosing a life that lets us help where we can, and help as we can.