The world has become a different place in just a few weeks, hasn’t it? We’re being challenged to respond in a way that’s almost unthinkable for us in the US. And even though physical distancing is becoming the new norm, there’s still the possibility that we will end up hanging out with the wrong crowd - albeit 6 feet apart.
A few days ago I had a conversation with someone in which we were discussing the consequences of being stuck in fearful thinking. It occurred to me that spending time continuing to think about scary things that could happen (but haven’t yet) or questioning whether what we’d already done had been a good idea was akin to hanging out with the wrong crowd. They’re never a good influence and are likely to make matters worse before we realize our relationship with them isn’t going to make us better, more intelligent or happier with our lives.
When I was in junior high school I found myself for a while being drawn to a group of “outsiders,” kids who didn’t fit in, who were considered wild or dangerous or bad. There was something fascinating about them - they didn’t conform to the same social norms, they openly rebelled; they seemed reckless and daring by talking rough or doing bad. I found that strangely attractive, watching them push the boundaries of safety and common sense.
What I didn’t see until I had gone down that road with them for a while was that it’s one thing to question our assumptions in a way that opens us to new and healthy opportunities and quite another to question assumptions and beliefs when it puts us or others in harm’s way.
It’s the same way with our thinking. There’s often a lot of drama, that adrenaline-spiking fascination with “what-iffing” that gets our imagination and our biochemicals going off the charts. Some of us are so used to living in a heightened state of stress that it can take a while to realize it’s not serving us when we try to figure anything out from there.
But is that really the place from which we can truly know what’s right for us? Any sort of knee-jerk, biochemical-induced reaction (triggered by our fearful thinking) is not intelligent, nor is it likely to be true.
What is intelligent (and true) is to recognize that any thought which doesn’t originate from our own deeper wisdom - accessible even, and especially in times like these - will keep us caught within the swirl of fear and danger, not peace and well being.
That’s the beauty of how humans are made: regardless of whether it’s the outside world or our own thinking that’s in turmoil, humans have a built-in GPS that can always be depended on to provide real-time direction based on a higher and wider perspective.
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