I’ve spent a lot of my life coping with fear. Some of it has traceable psychological underpinnings. Much of it doesn’t. When I learned that the primary emotion in my elemental makeup is fear*, I was able to let go of the judgment I hold around those unexplained feelings. (It’s not like we’re friends now, fear and I, but I no longer beat myself up about it).
I stopped watching crime shows, reading mystery novels and seeing any movie that features violence against women and children. I’ve limited my news intake. All of that helps. But I don’t live in a bubble and the world’s horror stories seep in.
I’ve written before about the way fear was one of my major symptoms of grief after Ben’s stillbirth. Fear that my daughter would die or fear that I would and she’d be left motherless. I think these are common fears for parents, especially parents who have lost a child, and the intensity has waned over the (almost) four years since his death.
There are billions of people for whom the world is not a safe place, whether they live in a gang-infested city, in the midst of a genocidal war or with an abusive spouse or parent. But for those of us who do live in relative safety, fear can still be too present a companion.
When fear strikes and there isn’t any immediate physical danger it’s because we are telling ourselves stories about a possible future. We build what-if scenarios in our imaginations that provoke real physical responses. In a culture that thrives on fear we’re not taught how to deal with it well, how to come back to the present moment, to our breath and our five senses, to what’s really happening.
I am safe. I am loved.
These words connect me to the present moment and to the big, bright beauty of the universe. They remind me of my belief that the universe has my back and I’m here to shine, not cower. They allow me to lay my fearful story to rest at the feet of Trust and stand firmly in the belief that even though challenges lie ahead (as they always do) in this moment I am truly alright. These words connect me to all that I’ve lived. They remind me of my inner strength and the hands that have stood me up when that strength threatened to fail.
I am safe. I am loved.
So are you.
And if you find yourself in a situation where you truly are not safe, then my deepest wish is that you believe in your own strength and the hands that will help hold you when you need them most, so that one day these words will feel true for you, I am safe. I am loved.
* This is based on the ancient system of Chinese “astrology” called the 9 Star Ki. It’s a fascinating way of understanding personality and will be part of a future program I’m cooking up. If you’d like to know more about the 9 Star Ki, shoot me an email via the contact form or let me know in the comments what you’re curious about.