This was first published on KSL.COM
Many mental health professionals say that during this pandemic mental health matters more than ever. There are serious mental health consequences that show up for people suffering from sustained fear. The American Journal of Managed Care notes that you can start to feel a dissociation from your identity, you can find it harder to feel loving feelings, you can experience mood swings, depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive thoughts, and/or learned helplessness, where you give up believing help or an end to suffering exists.
If you read my column on a regular basis, you know my passion for helping people deal with fear — and specifically what I call the two core fears: The fear of failure (which is the fear of not being good enough) and the fear of loss (which is the fear of not being safe).
Right now, people all over the world are battling a more than normal amount of fear that they aren’t safe. We are all afraid of loss. We are afraid of getting sick, losing family or friends, afraid of police brutality, protests or riots, afraid that the election might create more turmoil or violence, afraid of business failures and/or losing our jobs. The entire world is holding its breath to see what unknown problems lie around the bend next.
It might help your family to talk about safety and where a sense of safety can come from. The truth is life will always be uncertain and full of risk. Bad things happen and there is no way to protect ourselves from all of life’s dangers. You could make an argument that fear and stress are even warranted, but there is a high cost to living in fear of loss.
When you feel unsafe in the world, it diminishes your capacity to care for and love other people. It hinders your ability to connect, it makes you feel separated, isolated and alone. It makes you quicker to take offense and see yourself as mistreated, which creates more conflict.
You might have noticed that your family members have been more easy to offend lately, or that there have been more disagreements. Some of this is from spending too much time together, but part of it is also coming from the sustained fear of loss we are all experiencing.
'It's just a story' strategy
It would serve us all to learn a strategy for eliminating fear of loss and feeling safer. I teach my coaches that the best way out of the "I am not safe in the world" belief, is to remember it’s just a story. The way you feel about anything is coming from the story you are telling yourself about it. You might, in fact, be very safe at this moment and there might be good things around the next bend for you. There is no way to know what is coming next. No matter what you believe, it is a story.
This means that standing in this moment you have two basic story choices:
Trust God and the universe
You might want to gather your family and talk about what you truly believe the point and purpose of our being on the planet is. Talk about whether you see this universe is a place of chaos or a place of order.
Go through the following questions:
Start practicing trusting God and the universe that you are safe during the little inconveniences and problems that show up every day. Could you see a flat tire, a canceled plan, or an unexpected mess as your perfect classroom journey today? Could you choose to feel safe in those moments, trusting that God and the universe have you and the setback is a blessing in disguise? Playing with small losses now helps you to have strong "trust muscles" on a really bad day.
Choosing to trust that God and the universe are on your side, and constantly conspiring to bless and grow you, makes a big difference on your stress level. Give it a try for yourself. You can do this.
More tips and resources
Here are some other ways to help your family cope with stress and fear:
This was first published on KSL.COM
SALT LAKE CITY — Watching the news as the coronavirus spreads across Asia, Europe, and now the United States, along with the growing fear about a worldwide pandemic it brings, an interesting truth came to light: We are all connected, more than we realize.
This realization could help us repair one of the most damaging subconscious tendencies in our human nature: The belief in separation and changeable value.
We all have a subconscious belief that we are separate from other people, which makes us feel different from, better or worse than, others. We all also suffer from a subconscious fear that we might not be good enough and a belief that human value can be earned, which makes us compare ourselves with other people and stress about our appearance, property and performance.
'Us' versus 'them'
This fear also makes us divide ourselves into groups where an us-versus-them mentality can make us feel more secure, especially if we can see “us” as better than “them” on some level.
This also requires you to see the world in a very binary way, where there are only two options — us and them, black and white, good and bad, righteous and evil, taller and shorter or thinner and fatter. This binary, black-and-white thinking happens so you can find security around you being in "the good group," but it still makes you feel even more separated from other people.
One interesting lesson we can draw from watching the spread of the coronavirus is that we are all very closely connected. Despite all efforts to strengthen the barriers and keep “us” away from “them,” contact and influence still happen. It makes me wonder if “them” actually is “us.”
One interesting lesson we can draw from watching the spread of the coronavirus is that we are all very closely connected. Despite all efforts to strengthen the barriers and keep 'us' away from 'them,' contact and influence still happen.
I think this outbreak gives us an incredible opportunity to change the belief that there are better and worse humans with different values from us. We could create amazing, positive change in the world if we used this opportunity to break down the ego’s fear-based barriers and start seeing unity and connection to all our fellow humans. We may differ in belief systems, color, religion, race and a hundred other things, yet all of that is outnumbered by the things we have in common.
The virus attacks all humans, regardless of any group they belong to. They have the same physiology, psychology and biology you have. In an energetic and spiritual sense “us” is “them,” and we are connected as one. We are a human family, and every single human soul is connected. We have the same infinite and absolute, intrinsic value that cannot change no matter what.
We also subconsciously believe human value can change based on what you do, which means you also have to believe some humans have more value than other humans. This belief is the root cause of almost every problem on the planet. It makes us see certain groups of people as having more value than other groups of people, making the us-versus-them problem even worse.
However, I believe you cannot reject, judge or hate another human without it also bringing your own condemnation of yourself. If you see them as not good enough, you will never feel good enough either. It is actually your self-hate that you are projecting onto others when you judge or find fault in them.
"For the mind that judges perceives itself as separate from the mind being judged, believing that by punishing another, it will escape punishment, " the spiritual self-study program "A Course in Miracles” says. The truth is, all attack is self-attack because we are spiritually one. We cannot diminish another person without it casting ourselves as less.
I believe none of us is less because that isn't even possible. We were all created by the same God or higher power, and we are made of the same material. I believe it’s our job to see God, divinity or value in every person we see. I believe as we honor that divine part of them, it helps us to see the divine part in ourselves.
It could create a profound change in the world if we all would use this opportunity to practice love and compassion for those that are different from us.
Practice letting go of any groups that you might see as better or worse than you. Look at the humans in your life whom you tend to judge and be more mindful that the way you feel about them might be subconsciously the way you feel about yourself. You won't be able to fully love yourself if you can't love the brothers around you.
Any change in the world starts with you and me working on the one person we have control over: ourselves. If enough of us would commit to end the dividing and see all humans as having the same unchanging value, I think we really could change the world.
We can do this.
FOR MORE FREE
Coaching is less expensive than you think - If you need help we can find you a coach you can afford.
Kimberly Giles is the president and founder of Claritypoint Life Coaching and 12 SHAPES INC. She is an author and professional speaker. She was named one of the top 20 advice gurus in the country by Good Morning America in 2010. She appears regularly on local and national TV and Radio.