Opinion: Wisdom Workout

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Chaos and Upheaval

There is nothing impersonal about the Coronavirus Pandemic; it has put our physical, mental and emotional survival needs front and center. This reduces us to a societal climate of trying to make life appear normal even though the internal emotional experience feels insane and threatening.

Scratch the surface and everyone has an opinion. Conversations about the information we are receiving can explode like the marriage between dynamite and a match igniting fear, confusion and residual emotional upset as the lingering payoff.

Underneath our rapidly vibrating thoughts and feelings lives our individual belief systems molded by our personal life experiences to date.

Though it may look like there are only two positions, for or against how this crisis is being handled, nothing could be further from the truth. Every head contains a world of its own. The external reality has shifted and is uncertain under the umbrella of this staggering worldwide event that none of us can escape. Fight or flight is the automatic reaction to feelings of danger and threat. This is the context in which we are living right now.

I was raised in New York City. Everyone had an opinion because survival required that you act strong or you would be dominated and seen as weak. That mentality creates bullies who exist in a climate of fear, where life is seen as an enemy, every interaction carries a potential threat and every day is approached as a new battle to be won.

I know those feelings well. My childhood was permeated with fear, sadness, overwhelm and hyper-vigilance because of the harshness of the environment. My early experiences have ultimately served to motivate me to create harmony by making life choices that seek the softer side of the street.

Whatever our background, the challenge for each of us is to learn how to take responsibility for our own thoughts, feelings and responses by identifying our predominant feelings and asking some deeper questions of ourselves.

When have I felt similar emotions? What specifically was happening to me at that time? How was I personally threatened or harmed by what happened? What core decisions did I make as a result of those experiences?

What is the value of this kind of exploration? If you have the courage, it will help you to glean valuable knowledge about the genesis of some of your habitual reactions to this situation that is personally impacting you today. It won’t change your opinions or beliefs but it will serve as an invitation to own your emotional reactions as unique to you, even if it seems that others share them. 

Asking deeper questions can shift your perspective from being triggered and victimized by external stimulus to owning your emotional reactions by discovering and acknowledging that they were born originally through experiences from your past that have not been totally understood.

If you are tempted to jump into the fray of political discourse, you will be equipped to have a discussion based upon your personal experience rather than tuning in to the thought channels that sanction pejorative name-calling as the predominant way to bludgeon your opponent into submission.

We are all in this together. We each have the opportunity to decide to choose peace in our lives by refraining from the temptation to start individual wars around us as a misguided attempt to focus externally to keep from experiencing our legitimate fears and apprehensions.

Susan is a local leadership consultant and is the author of Beyond Intellect: Journey Into the Wisdom of Your Intuitive Mind. Reach her at: susanvelasquez.com

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