I remember when the fear hit. I was listening to somebody tell me about how the capital is being overtaken and how a bunch of police officers got maced. I don’t know if I was just in shock and couldn’t believe it actually happened, or poor cell service (truly a possibility in my area), but I remember thinking, A few hundred people stormed the capital in Georgia? I’m not saying this would’ve been any better mind you, but it is quite a different thing than a few thousand people marching on our capital in Washington.
I remember the rest of the day feeling ‘off’. Physical tightness in my chest. Irritable. Tired. My voice seemed to lose a bit of its timber. I know the rules. I’m all about following the steps to create my own emotional state, and I know I don’t want to stay in fear that’s for sure. I have identified the fear, I’m listening to it like I’m supposed to, and now I’m looking for the ‘why’. That’s what’s supposed to help, isn’t it? I’m talking to people on stage, hosting workshops, and doing one-on-one coaching all about how our ‘why’ separates us from our emotion, and it’s true. But never has it said anywhere that your ‘why’ is a flotation device, keeping you above the cold water of fear. Nothing was going to save me from having to feel the fear, it’s just going to let me know why it’s there.
I know you hear things like this and you always think to yourself, when everybody talks about this event, fear is just going to come on, but I know that so I’ll be ready for it. It makes sense right? If I’m at home watching the news, or Joe Schmoe brings it up when I’m standing in line at Shaws, then it is completely normal for me to have fear and anxiety. My chest will probably tighten up then, I will remind myself that I KNOW exactly why, so then that feeling will go away. Wouldn’t that be fantastic?
Unfortunately, that’s not how it works. I wish it did.
Understanding your why – what it is that is causing you to have these feelings, helps you separate from those emotions, detach, so that you can then ask: are these feelings helping me or are they hindering me. Only then can you determine what it is that you want. Until you detach, you are being ruled by your emotions, rather than you being able to use the information that they provide to then make the decision on what you want.
Trying to consider all of the emotions that we could possibly feel on any given day would be unfathomable. It is the difference between trying to count the grains of sand on a beach, or trying to stop and separate water molecules as you go down a barrel in Niagara Falls. You may be seperate from the water, because of the barrel, but you are in the experience nonetheless. Every time a catalyst, whether outside of us or inside of us, pulls or pushes on us energetically, ‘why’ tells us what we’re reacting to. But, understanding ‘how’ we stay in our barrel (our mental-emotional center) seems to be all important.
It’s almost impossible to ask ‘why’ for every emotion that we have every day. But we do need to take the time to do this when we find we have emotions that are not serving us, or that are keeping us from doing what we want or need to do each day. So, how do you understand ‘why’ something is causing you to experience this emotion? When something huge happens it sets off a cascade of feelings in us. Figuring out the ‘why’ can be darn near impossible when we are compromised by our emotions. This could leave us trying to go through hundreds if not thousands of “reasons” as to why we are feeling a certain way, waiting to come up on that magical answer that, once acknowledged, allows us to feel better spontaneously. Again this would be fantastic.
First you have to stop the story that is perpetuating the emotion. Continuing to run the story (“The capital is being overrun and the whole world is going to crap!”) only prolongs the suffering. So, you have to stop. You may have to literally change the environment for yourself: go for a walk, play a game on your phone, watch the clouds… You have to step out of the situation either physically or internally for a moment to get some space. In my case, I connected with my daughter and we went for a walk.
Then, once you’ve had some space, ask yourself: “What is going on? Why is this hitting me so hard?” And know that there will never be just one answer. There are usually an accumulation of issues that you can identify that are causing this particular thing to have the weight to pull on your emotions so hard. In my case, with the capital, it was realizing that this was happening along with a pandemic that has been going on for almost a year, the political climate has been in upheaval for several years, we haven’t been able to connect with our friends in many months,… All of these things in and of themselves have caused fear within me. The capital hit so hard because it piled on one more layer of fear that literally felt insurmountable to me. Once I was able to acknowledge this, I could then consider this emotion of fear within that perspective and I understood that this feeling was not me, nor was it new to me. It was a piece of a greater whole. And staying in the fear, at the moment, did not serve me.
Training ourselves to use what’s outside of us and what’s inside of us to create our reality in our emotional state takes tremendous training and dedication. You can expect setbacks. But it will allow you to have a much fuller, less reactionary life. So, I had to decide what would serve me in the moment? I decided that it was playing Exploding Kittens with my children. Game on!