Healing the Fear Virus with Compassion!

When the whole Coronavirus stuff started to go down earlier this year, I noticed how another virus was spreading even faster than COVID: The fear virus. Fear was taking root and spreading around the globe faster than the speed of light. 

Fear is contagious. And it’s easy to make it the enemy. But fear shouldn’t be viewed as the enemy itself.

In fact, I believe that when we make choices out of fear, we’re making choices to protect ourselves and those we love. It comes from a desire for self-preservation. Fear can be important. We need some level of an alarm system to keep us out of harm’s way. 

Fear brings a message with it. 

YOU CAN’T IGNORE FEAR

We can’t ignore it — because ignoring it simply buries the emotions. We can’t bypass it — because we have a lot of collective trauma that needs to be addressed and healed. I invite you to see fear as a valuable piece of information. Throw out the concept that you shouldn’t feel fear. At its core, fear is actually friendly. Fear wants to protect us, and is a biologically-rooted system that’s working on our behalf 24/7 to warn us of possible threats to our life. It’s trying to keep us safe and alive. 

But we also don’t want to give in to it or give it more power than it warrants.  

Healthy fear serves you in the moment but then it’s supposed to go away when the threat does. It’s when fear takes root unchecked that it can become relentless and repetitive. Like a virus, it can infect and attack every cell in our body, causing us stress and sickness. 

Fear is our self-protective inner voice (or maybe the voice of our mom, or our 10th grade English teacher, or our priest, or whoever) telling us, “Don’t do that — something bad will happen!” Fear wants to keep us right where we are — in the known — because the unknown is scary, uncertain, threatening. 

The problem occurs when fear can spiral out of control, overstaying its usefulness. 

If left unchecked, fear attacks its host — that’s us! Studies show how persistent states of fear and anxiety stress the body, and can also lower our immune system and cause all kinds of physical, mental, and emotional breakdowns.

A Fear virus can keep us isolated and prevent us from experiencing life. And when that happens, it erodes our ability to make empowered choices.  

That’s because fear is about limits. It wants to keep us right where we are. 

Don’t publish that blog post… people might not like it!

Don’t say “yes” to that blind date… you might get hurt!

Don’t ask for a raise even though you haven’t had one in 5 years… you might get fired!

Don’t venture out… take a risk… put yourself out there… let others in… move outside your comfort zone… because the world is a scary, scary place where bad things happen, and it’s too scary to take a risk and explore!

Fear becomes problematic when we let it move over from the passenger’s seat into the driver’s seat, grab hold of the steering wheel, and decide not only where we’re gonna go, but how we’re gonna get there!

Fear can’t distinguish between real and imaginary threats. The saber-tooth tiger waiting to devour us if we venture away from our pack is as real to our fear response as is asking for a raise, or singing at open mike night, talking to that hottie across the room, or thinking up the monster under our bed. 

Our minds, and then our bodies, respond the exact same way to an imaginary threat as to a real threat. 

HOW TO DEAL WITH FEAR

We can’t always get over fear or pivot away from fear just because we want to. But we can become more mindful in discerning between real and imaginary threats. LOVE it into cooperation. Welcome it. Thank it for its message (“Thank you, Fear, for trying to keep me safe. I’ve heard your message. I appreciate you! You’ve shown me an area in myself I need to heal. Now I’m going to go ahead and make the phone call/sing the song/have the tough conversation.”)

Sound hard? It can be! In fact, when I’m in fear and someone tells me “Colette, just focus on LOVE,” it doesn’t always work and can actually feel like blame!

What does often work, though, is to gently redirect my focus, my perspective, at the micro level. When we choose to make these tiny shifts, we can develop resilience and courage and move towards a greater trust in ourselves and our Higher Power.

This isn’t something we do only once. We have to train ourselves over and over again. Sometimes we focus just on the 24 hours — or the 24 minutes — or the 24 seconds! — ahead of us. When we can shift our energy in the present moment, that frees us up to choose with awareness rather than choose in reaction. 

So when you start feeling that sustained sense of fear or anxiety, ask yourself this question:

What’s one thing can I do to feel more compassion and love? 

I love making lists of things that make me grateful and expansive. That way I have them on hand for those times when the doubts, the worries, or the Fear Virus (or as I call it in my book, “The Map,” the Fear Goblin) sneaks in. 

I’m grateful when my husband Marc and I are on the same page and in sync. 

I’m grateful for my ability to connect with a world-wide audience of amazing souls. 

I’m grateful I can immerse myself in nature just by walking in my back garden.  

These aren’t earth-shattering things — and that’s the beauty of it. Sure, going to Turks and Caicos and walking along the pristine white sandy beach in the moonlight would make me grateful. But that’s not very realistic (particularly these days!). 

But I can always find a small thing to shift my energy, to bring me joy, remind me that no matter the wild chaos of the outer world, I can find a moment of peace and trust. I can be brave! I can straighten my office, check in with my trees, pet my dogs. I can get a little booster shot of joy.

FINDING YOUR JOY

Joy is what fear robs from us. There’s a level of joy missing when we’re living in fear. But if we can put our focus on the smallest things that we’re grateful for — and then share it! — we can completely shift our energy to a more empowered state. 

Here’s how it might work. Let’s say I wake up and I’m obviously hormonal or Mercury is in retrograde and I’m feeling way out of sorts. I’m starting to get freaked about all the stuff that’s going on and how hard it is to live in this transition time. I get myself good and worked up, and I want to pick a fight with someone, just to relieve the tension I’m feeling. 

But instead, I take my mug of hot coffee out on the back deck. I listen to the birds. I feel the cool morning air on my face. I breathe in and out. I hold my dogs in my lap and bury my hands in their soft fur, and give them some love. I look at the mist in the trees and see dew sparkle in the sun. Suddenly, I notice that the tension in my neck and jaw and back has eased, and I don’t feel quite so much like throwing things at people. 

I start thinking of all the things I’m grateful for, and I thank them all — I thank the trees and the birds and the chair I’m sitting in and my coffee and everything around me. 

Gratitude is truly the magical Abracadabra for all of this!

Then I think about how grateful I am for Marc, and I think, “What could I do for him to show love today? What is one little thing?” And I think about how he loves sushi, so I decide we’ll have sushi for dinner. 

That good feeling of joy and happiness is like a tiny flame that will burn inside me the whole day. I can return to it again and again when I start feeling overwhelmed, or put out, or scared. I can come back to my breath, to my dogs, and to my gratitude. 

It’s really that easy to change the whole course of your day, moment by moment. You simply choose to focus away from fear. You choose to let something besides fear be the center of your attention. 

I am not perfect at this. No one is. 

But if we can stay 90 percent in faith and screw up 10 percent of the time, that’s pretty good! Maybe for you, today it’s the reverse. You’ve been living 100 percent in fear and now today you’re gonna live 10 percent in faith. That’s progress! Celebrate it. And then tomorrow, make it 12 percent faith or 15 percent and keep moving forward. 

Keep celebrating. Keep looking for joy, moment by moment. 

I love you!

THIS WEEK’S JOURNALING QUESTIONS

I believe in the power of journaling! Spending time actually writing down your thoughts, impressions, and feelings provides a way to work through challenges and to appreciate our blessings. Here are some questions for you to consider in your journal: 

  • What is one small way I can show compassion to someone today (including myself!)
  • What percent of the time do I live in faith right now? What can I do to increase that? 
  • What might my fear be trying to tell me today? What is it telling me I need more or less of? (After you answer this question, you can thank Fear and tell it you’ve received its message.)

 

Showing 30 comments
  • Ann Dillon
    Reply

    Thank you, Colette, for this wonderful reminder! There is much to be grateful for, indeed… Thank you for being there, and being you…

  • Debbie
    Reply

    I needed this today thank you

    • Faith
      Reply

      Thank you, Colette for this lesson today and the reminder to not be afraid of fear; that is we face the fear(s), we can be grateful for what it is trying to show us or tell us. And lastly, I love the idea to be thankful of the fear(s) and for what it has shown us.

  • Jane
    Reply

    Thank you for this! I’ve had the term “fear virus” used to shame me for taking basic Covid safety precautions (wearing a mask, avoiding large gatherings, etc.). One person even suggested that I would probably GET the virus because I was “letting it into my thought field” by choosing to be careful. (Ironically, invoking fear to try to make their point.) I have a friend who’s on Red Alert pretty much 24/7 and talking to him can be exhausting, so I know fear is contagious and can wear a person down. But it serves a purpose, too. It depends on how we engage with it. I appreciate the way you keep things grounded in reality. That’s what transforms the “woo woo” into true wisdom! 🙂

  • Michelle
    Reply

    Bravo!- A good read and a very good reminder. It’s important to share our tools of life. Grateful for this article and to share it with those I love and care about!

  • Libby
    Reply

    For one who has been living in fear a lot, the reminder to practice gratitude daily to allow peace and joy to come into my life is so very much appreciated.

  • Andi
    Reply

    Beautiful! Like you, I’ve been moved to tears just sitting on my back deck in nature, so grateful, and also have become devastatingly ill from fear in the past. It occurs to me that the nature of universal consciousness is love, and if we’re not living in love we’re not living our nature. This is a source of suffering and pain. If you’ve been conditioned to be in a constant state of fear, breaking out of that is true freedom, and the key to the jail cell is love and gratitude. Your blog post is a timely reminder that regardless of what is going on, living in love and gratitude allows us to live as our natural selves, love.

  • Candy
    Reply

    I needed to hear this, I had a seizure and now I can’t work anymore and I lost my driver’s license and my memory

  • Rose
    Reply

    Absolutely brilliant blog love it Thank you!🥰💖💖💖

  • Lizzie
    Reply

    Thank you. I really needed to hear this today because I cannot yet see past my fears. And when they are all I see, I feel condemned. So thank you! I’ll go pet my dogs now!!

  • Anonymous
    Reply

    Thank you for your guidance much appreciated love you

    Rutuora Harawira

  • Deane Pope
    Reply

    Thanks for this. I read it just at the perfect moment I needed it. 😇

  • Blanca
    Reply

    Good morning Collete, Thank you so much for your great and inspiring words. As Debbie in previous comment stated, I needed this today!!

  • Anonymous
    Reply

    Thank you Colette 💜 I will do this for myself.

  • Laurie Z
    Reply

    Love this. Love you. 💛

  • Tricia
    Reply

    This is such a wonderful message. Thank you!! It reminds me to go out in Nature today and not put it off to work inside the house… It’s warm and sunny, probably one of the last days like this in the Catskill Mountains…Cold!! weather coming. I love you Collette!!! Thanks for ALL the times you’ve ministered to us

  • Shelley Bluse
    Reply

    I absolutely love Abracadaba. I may find myself whispering that alot in the near future. 😘I live in the Upper Penninsula of Michigan. We are getting hit with covid hard here.Tensions are high and people are reacting according to their fear. Winters are already long so I will find what makes me feel joyful and continue to seek my happy places😘

  • Gail Gannon
    Reply

    Thank you Colette. I need to print your message and read it every day until I can reduce my fear and anxiety
    Love you 💖☮️🤗

  • Franca
    Reply

    Thank you Colette for beaming light on my darkness.💟💟

  • Charon Hunniford
    Reply

    must say Colette … I appreciate how my-rootedness is, not only being deepended, but intertwining with others. Thank you …

    • Anonymous
      Reply

      I appreciated your comment, thought it was nice.

  • Nicole
    Reply

    Thank you Collette. Relevant, timely and always on point. I love your blog posts. But this one … really lifted me.

  • Suzie
    Reply

    What a warming uplifting message Thankyou Colette ❤ and for your journal tips❤

  • Rene
    Reply

    Thank you, Colette. What a beautiful post. I agree… gratitude not only feels sooo good, it goes such a long way toward distinguishing fear. (And I’m so grateful for you and your kindness, generosity, and intuition. You change my perspective, and thus my world, for the better every time I listen to you. XOXO)

  • Judith
    Reply

    Thank you Colette for your wise words that resonate with me right now as I have been experiencing fear in my relationship with my daughter. I believe that I can in time turn my fear around and feel better about myself and find the joy I so desperately want in my life now and always and repair my relationship with my daughter. Thank you so very much. Gratitude is a very humbling feeling and I have so much to be grateful for. Bless you

  • Mirella
    Reply

    Hi Colette, I enjoyed reading your timely blog. I think, “discerning between real and imaginary threats” would definitely help many people manage their fear and anxiety.

  • Sunday
    Reply

    During a recent healing/integration I was guided to say aloud “I love and accept the part of me that uses the feeling of fear to be in resistance”….I never thought I “used” feelings to be in any state – I thought I was “feeling” my emotions…but the sentence was transformative. Colette THANK YOU so much for Your Graceful way of shining a light on negative patterns, that our mind uses as a tactic of protection. The Struggle Ends When The Gratitude Begins ~ N.D. Walsh

  • Sharon
    Reply

    I am grateful that I found this article, at this precise time as I truly needed it. Fear, anxiety and depression are in my face today. I have been learning to go the opposite way my fear wants me to go, which is new for me since I have PTSD and currently doing EMDR trauma therapy. I thank my healthy fear and yell at my irrational fears (which I have a lot of). Much blessings.

  • Marielle Dalcourt
    Reply

    Thank you so much 💗. Just reading your blog made me feel better. Love all your blogs. They always make me feel better.
    Thank you, Thank you.
    🥰
    Marielle

  • Madelene Grimm
    Reply

    Thank you. I often let the fear monster destroy a neutral or even fun moment. I know how to ground out – I forget to do it.

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