I am certain that my fellow Americans expect that on my induction into the Presidency I will address them with a candor and a decision which the present situation of our people impel. This is preeminently the 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.

~ Franklin Delano Roosevelt

Fear is hell. Spoken from experience. It may not be the only thing to fear, but it is the most threatening, worst thing to fear, which is what I think FDR was getting it.  There’s a reason terrorists use it as a highly effective weapon. 
I was raised by a Mayo Clinic Book of Family Medicine wielding hypochondriac who passed down fears, but in true 70s fashion, didn’t exert too much energy on teaching us how to cope, instead leaving us kids to figure it out. ( ‘Helicoptering’ and ‘child care’ were not really “things” back then…nor was overthought on whether we were getting enough vitamins and minerals from our Hungry Man TV Dinners!)

As my brother said when I showed him this picture, “I can smell it.” Shiver, makes my mouth water, not in a good way

Health crisis in the 70s could be a bit scarring. I remember being told to put my bathing suit on and come into the bathroom, where I was then told to get into the lukewarm tub with my brother who was already in it, in his bathing suit. Only difference was he was covered in about 50 open sores. Chicken pox. (“Are you kidding me?” )  Which probably explains why I am of the ‘let’s just get Corona and get it over with attitude’ at this point.

Resigned, because I catch everything, confident, because I am fortunate to be in good health and don’t have any real risk factors like high blood pressure or underlying health issues. And faithful, because I am continuously awed by the resilience of our bodies and our communities ability to rally.  And, I remember that anticipation and fear were ALWAYS worse than the real deal.
Not to say it is not worthwhile to spend some energy caring for yourself and getting your body ready. And to practice good hygiene and hand washing. It IS! And, it is important to be honest with yourself if you are becoming imbalanced. Try to recognize if you are getting obsessive and worrying and creating worst case scenario projections about the future.  My guess is most of the most panicky of people are not those at risk of becoming gravely ill from the virus.

If you are panicking beyond your truthful threat, observe that; don’t run from it or defend it or justify it, just be honest with yourself that that is what is happening.  Be nice and forgiving with yourself. You will see that naming the panic, ie distancing ourself from it, helps to diminish it. (This “observers mind” is a break through benefit of meditating.) Then, take it a step further, and think about offsetting your life draining worry, with life giving faith and hope. 
Do you know what an affirmation is? It’s a positive statement, an intention you want to believe that you declare, and then commit to believin’ it, even if you aren’t feelin’ it. It is fueled by faith. It takes courage.  And courage, by the way, is doing something despite the fear you are feeling.

Here’s an affirmation from a favorite book, called The I AM Meditations, by Jacob Glass

I also love Insight Timer, a fabulous app with tens of thousands of guided meditations.  Find somethat makes you feel good and confident. Spend time in that place. Build that tendency, and it will develop.  And don’t get me wrong, it’s a practice. I did ditch a pound of shaved ham today in the dairy section after the woman behind the deli counter who sliced it for me said “have a nice day” in a gurgley, raspy, viral voice. I can get as scared as the next person. And then be practical, and then panic again. 

What’s changed though is that through practice, I have a bit of an awareness of what is happening. It’s not alot of fun to admit to myself my human lameness at times, but the nice thing is when fear starts gaining momentum, I can recognize what is happening, and I have some tools and faith to help bring me back back into balance.  For the time being…

This Post Has 5 Comments

  1. Jim

    A wonderful and timely post Elinor. Thank you for tackling the subject of fear.

  2. Jen Pen

    I am so tired of having people with a cough be out and about and acting like I shouldn’t be irritated.
    I am not fearful. I am irked.
    Glad you pitched the ham.
    But into a trash can would have been better.

  3. Jennifer

    Just what I needed this morning – it’s like you read my mind.

  4. Liz

    Perfectly said! We all needed this today.

  5. Abigail Daley

    Elinor— thank you for being so generous with your wisdom.

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