In these days of isolation, social distancing in attempts to contain the SARS-COVID-19 and COVID-19 virus strains, the trauma response for many heightens. The first indicator was the rapid depletion in our grocery stores of toilet paper. In more recent days, now that most stores have a handle on the supply of toilet paper, we find that milk, eggs, bread and chicken are the items that many are hoarding as though it’s the end of time.
To go outside feels like you are risking your life as a few on my community Facebook page are talking as though they are ready to shoot those who dare leave their homes.
I get it, you have fear…now what? What are you to do with it?
Fear is an instinctual response. It is that “red flag” to alert us to something that requires immediate attention from a clear and present danger. Think of that shot of adrenaline that courses through your veins increasing your heartbeat when your car begins to slide on a patch of ice. It’s an immediate response that goes away faster than it came once the threat is dealt with. In this case, once you have regained control of the car, the fear response becomes a distant memory.
Toxic fear, the kind that is making news these past weeks, is a learned behavior that is commonly the result of allowing irrational thoughts to consume the mental space in your mind. Did you catch it? Toxic fear begins with how you “think”.
Take the example of the patch of ice on the road. If you allow yourself to ruminate on how suddenly it showed up and allow your mind to play out different scenarios of what might have happened if you didn’t get control of the car, you are creating fear based on events that are not real. Eventually you will get yourself so wound up in toxicity that your body will react traumatically whether you are actually driving or merely thinking about having to drive on icy road conditions.
Our bodies are not designed to sustain toxic fear. Such fear conceived in the mind grows into an attitude as our thoughts teach our bodies to react and is seen in our behavior.
It’s like that mosquito bite that you scratch when it itches. As you continue to focus on the itch you can’t help but scratch it until the skin is broken and begins to bleed. The itch is gone but the scab remains. Instead of allowing the body to do what it does, you continue to pick at the scab and the wound becomes bigger. Eventually the scar tissue seals it up and you are left with the mark of a self-inflicted wound.
The scars from toxic fear are self-inflicted. When you focus on fear, it becomes bigger and is more dangerous for your health than any sickness or disease. Allow that thought to sink in.
If this is your experience, if toxic fear has gripped you to the point where you are anxious about the “what-if”, running through grocery stores emptying the shelves in order to over stock yours, cannot focus on anything else that is not virus related, there is hope.
Hope is the antidote
Yes…hope. Toxic fear is the absence of hope. Hope is the antidote.
In a world of religious diversity, hope can look different depending on what or who you believe in. There is a hope that is unique. A hope that is not a “one size fits all”. This hope is offered from a deity that does not expect us to meet its needs, rather a deity that meets ours, who has the answer to the human condition where the tendency is to allow fear to become toxic.
God the Father is the only One who offers us hope, sustainable hope, lasting hope. This hope that is anchored in Him comes through faith in the person of Jesus Christ.
When we anchor our hope in Him, we unlearn toxic fear and make room for life instead of hiding from death. In times such as these, we gain understanding in how these strains spread and take the proper precautions as we go out to bring hope to those who need hope, whether it be in person, over the phone or on-line.
Now that life is mandated to slow down, isolate even, will you use this time to get to know the One who gives everyone life and breath and everything else. Reach out for Him and learn that He is your hope throughout all trials that life throws your way. He is the real deal and He does not disappoint.