In our current times of stress and challenge, we must remember a few things. First, challenges and crises are not uncommon in our country. Do you remember the question, “It is 10 o’clock, do you know where your children are?” This was started by a media outlet in New York in late 1960’s during social violence where there was rioting, burning, looting, etc.
Factor in the Covid-19 crisis that has caused a host of problems that have permeated our lives both at the macro and micro levels. We are all experiencing the negative effects of social isolation, fears of illness, economic loss, and the related health problems.
I think the largest contributor to the hysteria is the news media accompanied by social media, and the incessant drive to provide information, whether true or not. While there are many positive and negative perspectives about the access we have to information, I believe we must pay attention to the unsettled feeling that is being caused by fear and anxiety. There are valuable and effective skills and interventions available to help as we interact with our world in our daily lives.
Do you remember the first point noted above? Well, the second point is people have survived all the crises that have come before us, and we will survive also. No, I am not flippant with this statement, but I am quite confident. Let’s take a look at steps we can take to ensure our survival:
- Know who you are, and what in your life is dependable. I am not talking about “the sun will come up”, I am talking about “real” things such as people, values, morals, or God. This is the focus of “anchoring”. Look around the room right now. Are you safe? Is there anything that is going to hurt you? Once these are answered, work on becoming calm. Breath rhythmically – in for a count of 4 and out for a count of 5, then start again. Yes, this is the beginning of meditation training, and meditation is quite helpful.
- Be in the moment and intentional about your actions and activities. Perhaps more important is to be intentional about your thinking. Focus and think on the things that are “right” in keeping with your values and morals. If you don’t believe there are rights and wrongs in the world, this one will be difficult for you. Don’t get caught in others’ drama. Remember that no one controls what you think about but you. Also, you cannot focus on the positive while constantly monitoring social media or watching the news.
- Don’t get caught in the “reality” trap. What I mean is that while you may have “your” reality that does not mean it is “my” reality. Sometimes we need to get through some things that have happened in our lives that have impaired our worldview, and subsequently how we interact with the world and others around us. If I asked you if you live in the “hood”, what would you think of? What about the “victim” hood? We do seem to have an epidemic of people who are choosing to live as victims, and this is a very unhealthy place to live. Trust me, we can live beyond the trauma or mistreatment we have experienced, and yes, forgiveness is a large part of recovery and healing.
As followers of Christ, we are encouraged to renew our mind (Roman 12:2), and this is paramount if you desire to overcome the trap of fear. We are also instructed in what to do for anxiety (Philippians 4:6-9). Focus on what is right, honorable, pure, lovely, and good report. Make it intentional and choose what you think about and focus on. God will never fail you.