The principal mode by which people are infected with SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) is through exposure to respiratory droplets carrying infectious virus. Source: CDC.gov
The principal mode by which people can be infected with ANXIETY (FEAR) is through repeated exposure to someone carrying ANXIOUS & UNSETTLED ENERGY.
anxiety: apprehensive uneasiness or nervousness usually over an impending or anticipated ill
anxiety (medical): an abnormal and overwhelming sense of apprehension and fear often marked by physical signs (such as tension, sweating, and increased pulse rate), by doubt concerning the reality and nature of the threat, and by self-doubt about one’s capacity to cope with it.
Source: Merriam Webster
I don’t want community spread of my free-floating (airborne) anxiety and I don’t want to pick up the anxiety of others either. Not infecting those I’m in contact with is my desired outcome.
When I feel that anxiousness rising, thinking about something calm helps me tremendously. Noticing takes a lot of deliberate & regular practice. I’m trying to be patient with myself while I’m in training.
Do you catch my drift?
As M.A.S.H.’s, Hawkeye famously replied in season 2 episode 15, “I played Left Drift in high school”.
Ah, I miss you Dad. 💜
I’ve discovered a quick visual when I feel my discomfort rising—the bubble in a level…a vintage, weathered flea market level of course. If I’m able to level myself even a little bit, I can stop or at least slow the spread of my contagious anxiety.
Notice how this level is a bit higher on the right side? The table wasn’t even, I had to make a few quick adjustments to get the bubble centered…catch my drift?
The acronym FOG—Fear, Obligation, and Guilt, was first coined by Susan Forward & Donna Frazier in Emotional Blackmail: When the People in Your Life Use Fear, Obligation, and Guilt to Manipulate You.
I have loved fog since I was a child, my favorite weatherphenomenon by far. What I find so alluring and mysterious about fog is what’s UNSEEN. That’s precisely why I find this the perfect acronym for these complex and often confusing emotions.
We don’t know what’s happening around us until the sun burns away what’s obscured from our vision and then we’re able to gain more clarity.
Fear is a mental process that that triggers a physical response in humans when confronted by a threat.
Obligation comes from an innate sense of community responsibility. We are born with an instinctive sense of obligation to those around us.
Guilt comes from the same root as obligation. Most of us feel guilt when we do something that we think hurts others or disappoints of others.
“Emotional blackmail is a powerful form of manipulation in which people close to us threaten to punish us for not doing what they want. Emotional blackmailers know how much we value our relationships with them. They know our vulnerabilities and our deepest secrets. They can be our parents or partners, bosses or coworkers, friends or lovers. And no matter how much they care about us, they use this intimate knowledge to win the pay-off they want: our compliance.”
Source: Emotional Blackmail: When the People in Your Life Use Fear, Obligation, and Guilt to Manipulate You
When someone is trapped in the FOG of an unhealthy relationship, a common method of control is the use of gaslighting.
Gaslighting deploys often repeated phrases and makes us doubt our own beliefs, even when there’s overwhelming and well-documented information to the contrary.
Here’s an example of gaslighting: The world-wide virus, Covid19 is a Hoax, a Plandemic designed to make this administration look bad before the 2020 election.
This can’t possibly be true—173,000 people in America have died so far from the virus and 1000 Americans are dying every day. Being told repeatedly that the US is managing the virus better than most other countries is false, often repeated, and done deliberately to make people doubt the well-documented reality that the virus is ravaging our nation on so many levels. There were protocols in place for how to manage a likely pandemic. They have been ignored by the Trump administration.
Clearing away the FOG will allow more visibility into the reality of your relationships and how they may be affecting your health and quality of life. No one should live in a constant state of FEAR, OBLIGATION, and GUILT.
If you find yourself in a challenging relationship of any kind, the OUT of the FOG website provides very help information. There are tips about how to take care of yourself, respond with compassion to difficult circumstances, put appropriate (and loving) boundaries in place, and when to seek professional guidance to navigate turbulent emotional waters.
When my friend Jon and I couldn’t figure out what to do with our 8ish-year-old selves, we often walked around town and picked up trash. Right now, I sometimes don’t exactly know what to do with myself (you know, given the state of the world and all). So here I am, a 53-year-old woman, once again, walking around town picking up trash.
You know what’s pretty cool about this? I’ve discovered I have a superpower. I can spot inorganic matter like nobody’s business.
INORGANIC: not arising from natural growth (Merriam Webster)
Sometimes inorganic matter is very obvious…
Other times it’s barely detectable…
As I walked along the beach, I thought about the concept of organic and inorganic as they relate to our feelings. Organic emotions are what we know on some deep, cellular level. Inorganic emotions are planted by others and adopted as our own over time.
LOVE is organic, we’re born with it.
HATE is taught and learned, very inorganic.
Twenty-four-hours of news television, radio, and social media are inorganic. Talking heads paid to tell us who to fear, what to buy, and who or what we are supposed to hate is far from organic. All of those media platforms make a lot of money off of our thoughts and clicks.
This dangerously inorganic system was designed to make us fearful, divided, anxious, angry, and uncertain. Sadly, it’s working like a charm.
Searching for personal understanding is challenging (and exhausting)—especially during an election year with a world-wide pandemic causing health, economic. educational, and employment chaos.
Q. With so much uncertainty in the world, how can we keep inorganic matter from clouding our inner knowing?
A. Notice. Practice. Repeat.
This was one of the oddest group of items I’ve happened upon so far—an attachment for a vacuum cleaner, a s’more stick still in plastic, orange netting. and an ant covered coconut chunk. I could easily concoct a narrative about why these items fit together. I didn’t bother though.
I left a chunk of the coconut, I thought some kid on the beach would get a kick out of seeing the ants chomping away. Organic, yet out of context…worthy of some good ole’ fashioned pondering.
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.”
—Preamble to the Declaration of Independence
1a: government by the people,especially the rule of the majority
b: a government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised by them directly or indirectly through a system of representation usually involving periodically held free elections
1a: government by the few
b: a government in which a small group exercises control especially for corrupt and selfish purposes
Sir Peter Alexander Ustinov(16 April 1921 – 28 March 2004) was an English actor, writer, filmmaker, theatre and opera director, comedian, radio broadcaster, and television presenter. He was a fixture on television talk shows and lecture circuits for much of his career. An intellectual and diplomat, he held various academic posts and served as a goodwill ambassador for UNICEF and President of the World Federalist Movement. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_Ustinov
I have so many half-written posts from the last few weeks. I’ve written about democracy, racism. aging, my fears about the state of the world, cults & narcissism, sexism, motherhood, the artist Milton Glaser, the con of 1980s televangelists, kayaking with seals, our intricate vascular systems, humanism, menopause, radical acceptance, letting go, and realists vs. optimists. I haven’t felt like posting anything. Why?
I got curious, then it hit me…I think I have PAYING ATTENTION FATIGUE and I suspect many of you do too. The world is asking us to pay attention to so many things. I don’t need to add to anyone’s electronic burden now.
So, for the summer anyway, I’ll be posting mostly art, photographs, and short quotes…unless I change my mind, of course. The summer is still young.
“What if pain—like love—is just a place brave people visit?”
As I age, it seems much of life is experienced within the gray areas of uncertainty. Thankfully, now at fifty-three, I’m finding not knowing is sort of interesting, perhaps even a bit wonderfully mysterious.
I’ve been reading Pema Chödrön’s book When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times, she writes about hope and fear—
“Hope and fear come from feeling that we lack something: they come from a sense of poverty. We can’t simply relax with ourselves. We hold on to hope, and hope robs us of the present moment.”
HOPEverb: to cherish a desire with anticipation, to want something to happen or be true
FEAR verb:to be afraid of, expect with alarm
Hope was on my mind, so this morning Dusty Springfield’s 1964 song—Wishin’ and Hopin’ popped into my head as didEmily Dickinson’s poem—Hope Is A Things With Feathers. Oh you brilliant, creative women…you’ve been homesteading in my psyche the last few days. Thank you, your timing is impeccable.
Wishin’ and hopin’ and thinkin’ and prayin’ Plannin’ and dreamin’ each night of his charms That won’t get you into his arms So if you’re lookin’ to find love you can share All you gotta dois hold him and kiss him and love him And show him that you care
Songwriters: Hal David / Burt Bacharach—Artist: Dusty Springfield
All of this hope talk made me think about parenting, religion, and my childhood. My mother’s prayers for me when I was growing up were that I would eventually become someone or something else—an idealized version of the raw potential she saw in me. Please help Lisa stop picking her fingernails, overeating, cussing, being lazy, not caring about her grades, reading the wrong books, listening to the wrong music, drinking beer, or NOT believing the way I do.
I don’t blame her, this was her programming. I’m sure it felt quite loving hopin’ and prayin’ for my needed improvements. She feared who I might possibly become, and truly believed her prayers could turn things around for me. Her faith then required that she gave the God of her understanding credit whenever my improvements, no matter how barely detectable emerged.
I did the same thing to my children—always hopin’ they would become the best version of themselves. I guess I thought wishin’ for the hidden potential in them to emerge would reflect what a stellar job I’ve done mothering and flatter my ego. Damn, that was my programming too.
Emily Dickinson’s poem, Hope Is The Thing With Feathers reveals the unsettling nature of the never ending loop of constant hope…and never stops – at all -.
Hopin’ I believed would make all of my sleepless nights and heartache worthwhile. However, instead, what I’m finally understanding is that all of that motherly wishin, hopin’, thinkin’, and prayin’ kept me from accepting them as they were/are in the present. I’m truly sorry Ellis, Lucy, and Willa that I did not learn this sooner.
Wishin’, hopin’, thinkin’, and prayin’ doesn’t seem to actually be working in any part of my life now that I give it more though...and never stops – at all—thanks Emily for that reminder.
What if I practiced more acceptance in all areas of my life? What would that feel like? Complacent? Uncaring? UnAmerican? Untethered? Unbelievable?
Let’s experiment, take a moment…breathe, just let the word acceptance settle into our soul a bit…repeat it a few times. Thoughts?
What if right now in America we just quit wishin’, hopin’, thinkin’, and prayin’ for things to be different than they are? What if collectively we ACCEPTED that the God of our personal understanding is desperately trying to reveal to us that all of the political division, rage, wounded egos, destruction, inequality, brutality, greed, spiritual aches, righteousness, grief, and suffering requires our heart’s immediate attention right now and we can no longer keep hopin’ and prayin’ for it to magically disappear?
All you gotta doishold him and kiss himand love him Andshow him others that you care