Change The Narrative!

To face your fears...

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Whenever I think back to the time when my kids were infants and toddlers, it always brings a smile onto my lips. There are so many precious memories and often, in them I find wrapped, pearls of wisdom! Wisdom, that is ever so fresh and applicable in any of the times we live in.

For instance, let me share with you one from the times I took my little one to the doctor for her annual examinations. As a growing child, there was a litany of vaccinations, that needed to be administered. I remember that my daughter wasn’t a great fan of such times. During one such trip to the doctor’s office, she started crying a few moments after the vaccination was adminsitered. It was as though the pain made its way to her brain a few seconds late. However, she cried for several minutes post that all the way back to the car and on the way home. We pacified her and tried various tricks to take her mind away from the incident. Finally, after an hour or so of reaching home, we were successful in doing so. However, every time, we looked at her arm and the smiley bandaid on there, she followed our eyes, and as though on cue, relived her memory of that vaccination and cried. My son was fascinated with this. Even after a few days, all we had to, was look at her arm and she cried. My son, who is a few years older, found some sinister pleasure in doing this.

Anyway, the reason I bring this up is that even after several days of the incident, there was this fixed impression in my daughter’s mind that made her react like this as she relived her memory from time to time.

As adults, we do the same with incidents that shake us, mar or affect us negatively. Whether the undercurrent is fear, anger, sorrow or sadness; we tend to let those feelings resurface with a memory of the incident. Its not like you can pretend it did not happen or allow yourself to resist the common responses such incidents bequeath. The current pandemic is such a situation and depending on how one is exposed to it, each of us has different memories and reactions to it. Some have lost loved ones, others have lost jobs and perhaps, yet others are in the thick of battling its impact on their health. Each one has a personal battle they are fighting and no one else can judge them.

However, the common thread in all of these events is that one should stay strong, fight the situation and come out of it, stronger and more resilient. That’s the only way for us to win over this.

Yes, common responses of anger, turning inward, looking around to blame someone or to wallow in pain will be right in front of you since they are easy excuses that one can depend on. But, they are NOT the answer. No matter how prepared you are, how self aware and emotionally strong, struggles can take one by surprise. But, its resilience that can help you cope better, recover quicker and stronger.

First, its important to learn NOT to relive the event and the associated pain again and again! The process of rumination hinders the soundness of intellect acting in your favor. You have to move forward and not get stuck in that cycle to heal. That’s exactly what we did with our daughter, got her past the experience and pain of that vaccination after which, she went on to take the other ones, more boldly.

The most effective way is to face your fears. You see, when you try to hide from them, they follow you forever. For once, turn back and stare them in the eye and you will see how the dynamics change. When you do go through that memory, don’t do it for the pain but to find rationality and what your next step should be. Take control of the narrative and make it work for you!

Structure your though process of the happenings to find meaning that directs you toward what’s next, not to wallow in what already happened. This allows you to control the narrative and take action accordingly. Believe me, that is what you need to do at this time. Take action for what lies ahead. Though difficult, it might be a good idea to seek lessons from the experience. What have you learned and how does that make you stronger? What can you share with others when you share of the experience that will help them find direction to their benefit.

Of course, there’s a difference after a certain amount of time has passed and when you look back at a personal struggle or tragedy in the rear view mirror. It allows you the ability to get perspective. However, when you are in the midst of a situation experiencing the fear and anguish, it’s different. I get that. But, that is where you act on the core of the emotion you experience. Allow yourself the awareness of the emotions you are experiencing. Although, they do their best to drown you in the moment, you need to ensure you are aware from an outsider’s perspective as well. Experience the emotion, but notice what it does to you so you can be the judge of how you want to react. I know that I may be asking too much of many, but that’s the best way to establish self control and not get washed away in the flood of emotions. It allows you to look inward from the outside and change your emotions and their associations, where you are in control and its neither the emotions nor the situation that take control. It allows for greater courage to face such situations.

Now, going back to my infant daughter and her traumatic memory of the vaccination, she overcame it really well and never looked back since!

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