I’m sad to say, I can’t even relate to the pain, fear and worry that most people of color have had to deal with in my lifetime.
I grew up in a white, middle class family and neighborhood where we had steaks on the grill on the weekends–even though we certainly weren’t rich.
Because my father was a plant manager for Pepsi Cola, Pepsi flowed like water in our household which was a big deal in the 50’s.
I wasn’t even aware of the segregation and extreme racism in my small town that was plain for anyone to see–if you looked.
If you fast-forward 60 years later, it seems not much has changed.
People of color are still getting killed by the police for no reason. Equal pay for equal work still isn’t happening.
And we’re still (here in the USA) a nation divided between the “haves” and the “have-nots.”
You don’t have to step out of your home very far or look too long on the internet to see we are living in chaotic and fearful times.
In addition to all of that…
People are worried and scared about their relationships and personal life challenges.
Here’s the thing about being in a constant state of fear and worry…
We pull inward to try to protect ourselves from some threat or we lash out and our natural compassion for others gets shoved away.
There have been so many examples of this in the last week during the protests…
But there have also been examples of people overcoming their fear and being compassionate with one another.
This plays out so vividly as well in our relationships as well.
I remember being paralyzed with fear when my first husband and I decided to separate and get divorced 22 years ago.
I’d never lived by myself which was a weird thing to admit since I was over 50 years old when it happened.
I remember feeling so fearful that I soothed myself by worrying about where my soon-to-be-ex was living and what he was eating.
It was easier, I guess, to focus on him and his future instead of mine.
That is until one moment I did see that my future was wide open to me.
But then I got overwhelmed with the enormity of it.
Here are a few things I learned from that experience and from others that can help you no matter what your fear, worry or concern is…
1. Become aware of what you’re practicing
We all practice creating stories and making sense out of events in our lives that have happened or may happen.
When you become conscious of what kind of stories you’re believing, you can start making choices about how you want to live.
That’s certainly not to dismiss what is in front of you, staring you in the face…
But it is to discern truth from weaving a fearful future.
When I see that my fear and worry that I’m repeating over and over in my mind are keeping me from looking at what I truly want in my life…
I can see how ridiculous that is.
I know that repeated thoughts shape my experience.
Focusing on fear and worry does not keep me safe or keep me from feeling pain.
It only clouds my ability to make healthy decisions for myself.
I can broaden my view to take in all possibilities while not ignoring the truth.
2. Start with a very small step
When you’re scared and worried, you’re usually frozen and overwhelmed.
And if you take action from a fearful place inside you, it can do more harm than good.
When I was left alone so many years ago, I wasn’t scared of being along but I was scared of being the sole owner of a 150 year old house that needed lots of work.
At the time, I remember reaching out to a friend who was in a similar situation–an old house, no partner.
She helped me to calm my overwhelm by simply saying that I could pay people to do the projects I needed done that my ex had always done.
With that simple idea (that seems “dah” for a lot of you), I took a breath and took one step.
I called a plumber friend to fix a leak.
My shift in perspective was a life-saver at the time and has been for the last 22 years as well!
Whatever your situation–make one connection, take one step toward what looks like is your next step even if it’s a small one.
3. You are guided by the wisdom that flows inside you
I’ve come to see that when I allow my worry and fear to die down…
Something comes to me that is my next right step.
Just knowing that I have access to that has calmed my fears over the years.
And this wisdom flows inside all of us but we cover it over with our fears and worries.
At the time I was left on my own, I wasn’t as aware of this as I am now.
Even if I wasn’t aware of it, that wisdom was there.
It’s there for all of us–at any time.
Even though it looks like being worried and scared is what’s called for and will protect you…
Step back and look with new eyes at whatever situation presents itself to you.
Look with love and compassion and see how your life becomes easier and you’re more peaceful inside no matter what’s happening outside.