Some of us are freaking out. Some of us are propelled into action. And some of us, like me, are just feeling a current of anxiety running through us.
If what we’re experiencing right in this moment is a “problem,” then we’ll look for a solution.
That reinforces the so-called problem.
I thought I was getting sick yesterday. Turns out, I was just holding onto all the worry I felt when I read the news and talked to family. (Everyone is fine.)
We experience a lot of things at once, though we don’t notice. . I felt secure. And I felt anxious. And I thought my risks were low. And my dad is 87. I could go on. I didn’t appreciate how much experiencing these things together contributes to a pent up confusion and wish for some relief.
There’s a time to step away from the sources that spin us up. I’m thinking here of the news. It has been difficult to listen to my wife report things that colleagues said at work. I wanted to check out. There are times when our attention is fragile and narrow. I’m apt to go right to some emotional reaction – restlessness, impatience, the “get me out of here” feeling.
As a starting point, I’m trying to watch out for when I have fallen into some consuming, imagined world, thanks to my reactions. Say, a world of not-enough for all of us, a world in which it’s me versus them, or one in which “they” don’t matter as much as me and mine. Do I really believe in that? Does that isolate me, or does it help connect me to others? Something has taken me over. It usually comes up out of the cellar of emotions.
A better way is to practice bringing attention to this experience right now. It’s not easy to sit with this kind of anxiety and sense of potential threat. It can feel impossible. We’re really quite unprepared. But could you begin by asking this?
What kind of world am I imagining, believing in, and reacting to?
That world is created by our thinking about events, both out there and within us. And not just thinking, but what it brings up from the cellar of emotions.
This approach isn’t a solution. What we’re experiencing right in this moment is painful and confusing. But a problem? Take a closer look.