The Fear and The Familiar

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COVID19 – There is nothing familiar and lots to fear as we live (and die) through this pandemic. As of this writing (4/5/2020), here are the stats according to the Johns Hopkins University&Medicine Coronavirus Resource Center https://coronavirus.jhu.edu/. Within a few days global deaths will have shot past 100k. The U.S. alone is expected to far exceed this number by early summer 2020. There is plenty of fear and an effacement of the familiar. What are we left with? What can we do? Where do we go from here?

With the fulmination of fear and the stripping away of the familiar, we are left with a soon-to-be-forgotten past, a present moment that is at once perilous as it is filled with perspective, and the foreshadowing of a future that is both foreboding and perhaps even fascinating. The gravity of the content and context of our current lives cannot be more severe. And yet, even within the most dire of circumstances, we are called to cultivate more than just “corona anxiety”, “collective trauma”, or a “quagmire of quarantine quandaries”. Yes there are things we can do: Help others, focus on ourselves, embrace the fact that we are #InThisTogether. This trifecta is a holy trinity of sorts.

Described so well by Simon Sinek in this YouTube video, in seeking solutions to selfish concerns, we are immediately blinded to helping someone else. But by directing our attention to help someone else solve their problem, we wind up solving our own. Paradoxically, by helping others first, we free up space and find more energy to focus on our own personal growth. Once these steps are taken, we find that it is easy to begin to embrace the entirety of the Beloved Community. This concept was brought into public discourse by Martin Luther King, Jr. as described here: “For Dr. King, The Beloved Community was not a lofty utopian goal to be confused with the rapturous image of the Peaceable Kingdom, in which lions and lambs coexist in idyllic harmony. Rather, The Beloved Community was for him a realistic, achievable goal that could be attained by a critical mass of people.” During the current and all future pandemics, we will be called back again and again to helping others, focusing on ourselves through self-care and self-discovery, and universal compassion.

The fear we feel and the affinity for the familiar are only our friends when they guide us to face our vulnerability as well as our forgotten parts. Uncertainty and the unknown is the new normal. To live in a perpetual state of “I don’t know” may lead us to more love, more joy, and more freedom that wasn’t even on our radar. Let us release fear. Let us abandon the familiar. Let us live, move forward, and die with grace and #lovingkindness.

Published by Dr. Rick Barnett

Licensed Clinical Psychologist-Doctorate, Addiction/Recovery Specialist, among other things...

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