When is it helpful to react quickly?
When would it be more appropriate or beneficial to respond mindfully?
Am I feeling fear and I need to establish physical or emotional safety?
Or am I feeling vulnerable and need to move through an old (and limiting) belief pattern so that I can expand my comfort zone and grow?
These are questions that I’ve learned can help me when I’m facing a challenge. If I don’t acknowledge my fear and vulnerability, I will become anxious and confused and I might panic and disassociate! These are all intensifications which manifest if I don’t listen to my feelings and take responsibility for my fear. Vulnerability, if not acknowledged and expressed can lead to panic and even rage.
Whilst listening to the accounts of the recent Coronavirus outbreak, I became curious about the ‘panic’ buying that is happening. Is it a real fear and a threat to safety, is it a perceived threat to an old survival pattern such as “I should buy extra just in case” or is this event triggering an old subconscious memory of a time when there was a ‘lack’. In the latter case, even though the rational mind believes that there’s no need to ‘stock up’ and panic buy, the subconscious believes that it’s in danger.
Fear is a vital response to physical and emotional danger that has been pivotal throughout evolution.
Whether it’s fear or vulnerability or a combination of both is a very personal experience and is uniquely individual. For some this outbreak represents a real fear of death, for some a real fear of losing their homes and yet for others it represents vulnerability and an opportunity to develop a deeper level of resilience and resourcefulness.
“Vulnerability is the birthplace of creativity, innovation and change”. Brene Brown
Learning to differentiate between fear and vulnerability has been absolutely life changing for me. It’s also been very healing to identify the difference between a current personal feeling of fear or vulnerability and a feeling which is triggered by an old memory. My own understanding and awareness continue to evolve and help me to stay calm and mindfully respond to each new day.
If you feel fear the first question to ask yourself is “What is the threat?” and “What do I need to do to move to safety?”
If you feel fear the first question to ask yourself is “What is the threat?” and “What do I need to do to move to safety?” E.g. The threat is that I may lose my home if I can’t keep up repayments. The action is to find out about mortgage payment holidays, contact the helpline immediately and put those measures in place.
For vulnerability, the question to ask yourself is “What is the belief or behaviour which is being challenged and ready to be resolved?”
If you realise that it’s not your physical or emotional safety that is at risk but an internal threat to your ego, then that’s vulnerability and the question to ask yourself is “What is the belief or behaviour which is being challenged and ready to be resolved?” E.g. A belief “I should be able to keep up my repayments, without delving into my savings – what will the neighbours think if they know that my business hasn’t been doing well this year”. Denying vulnerability could lead to panic and rage. However, feeling and acknowledging the vulnerability and challenging the old belief would allow you to dip into your savings to settle the mortgage repayments and maybe even connect with your neighbours in a deeper way, as you share your vulnerability!
I’d always believed that I had to ‘feel the fear and do it anyway’! Now I realise that the saying would be more helpful if it was ‘feel the vulnerability and do it anyway’,
If your reaction to the recent news is hysterical and you don’t understand why, it may be that your subconscious is triggered by an old memory, which feels like the current situation. In this case it takes time and support to identify the initiating event and to release the emotional trauma before you are able to respond mindfully to the reality of the present.
Would you like to be able to be calm and stay abreast of the situation as it changes daily and respond accordingly? If so, then you must be able to allow yourself to feel vulnerable!
Many of us don’t like to feel vulnerable, to not know what’s going to happen next and our response is to try and control the situation and/or our lives. Eventually something happens which makes us realise that this is futile and that we cannot control our external environment, we can only control our response.
The outbreak of Coronavirus and the impact that it’s having is throwing many into a deep state of fear and vulnerability. If we have a good tolerance for vulnerability, we can stay calmer and respond appropriately. If not, we are likely to flip into panic.
Here are a few tips is you are experiencing fear:
– Notice your physical feelings – e.g. a raised heart rate and shallow breathing
– Ask yourself “Is this fear – am I concerned for my physical or emotional safety?”
– If so ask “What do I need to do to move to a position of safety?
– Take the appropriate action
– Notice your physical feelings again – e.g. heart rate and breathing have
returned to normal
– If it is not fear, it’s likely to be vulnerability and ask yourself “What belief or behaviour is being challenged and ready to be resolved?
– Recognise where the belief came from, what behaviour it causes, what you could do differently and then change the limiting belief, act and step out of your comfort zone.
– Notice your physical feelings again – e.g. your heart rate and breathing have returned to normal.
When I learned to differentiate between fear and vulnerability is was so helpful. I’d always believed that I had to ‘feel the fear and do it anyway’! Now I realise why previously that led me to panic, fear is a warning signal that I’m not safe! Now I realise that the saying would be more helpful if it was ‘feel the vulnerability and do it anyway’, that way I get to increase my comfort zone, learn something new, grow and expand my knowledge, understanding and wisdom.