As the world faces the new reality of “sheltering in place” or even self-quarantine, there is an opportunity to take stock of parts of what we spend our time doing, and re-prioritize what and who is most essential in our lives. 

As a Family doctor, I am used to helping others face the health challenges, helping them to adjust to new realities. Something like a broken leg, will limit your ability to maintain your routine temporarily. But something more serious, and long term, like being diagnosed with cancer, oftentimes forces a complete re-evaluation of all aspects of life. 

When our world as we know it changes, whether an injury, illness, or global pandemic, think of it as a good time to hit the reset button and revisit our priorities. It is a good time to seek answers to bigger questions. And it is a good time to reflect on our past, present and probably change our entire vision for the future.

Personally, as a result of COVID-19, I have felt more fear than I can remember in a long time. 

Specifically, I’m talking about emotional fear (not the kind of fear our ancestors relied on to survive). I sense it being multiplied all around me everyday. Not only at my medical practice, but also at home.

No matter how hard I try, I can’t seem to ignore my increase in fears.

  • Fear of rejections that stops me from engaging with others
  • Fear of unfamiliarity that prevents me from venturing outside our comfort zone
  • Fear of failure that prevents me from experiencing new adventures
  • Fear of not living up to the expectations that my patients have for me

When I start thinking more about why I am all of a sudden afraid of fear, my mind tends to wander towards how others deal with fear.

I have to imagine that Muhammad Ali took a lot of fear with him into the ring when facing the strongest boxers in the world, yet he created magic every single time

I have to imagine that Tom Brady felt fear when he stepped on to the Super Bowl championship field nine times, yet he managed to win six of them (hard for me to acknowledge that because I’m a Steelers girl).

I remember listening to Will Smith describe his Skydiving experience as confronting his fear, yet he also said that in retrospect, it was the one of the most blissful experiences he has had. 

Surrounded by news and media everywhere about the increasing havoc being created by COVID-19, I can’t seem to shake the emotional fears that I am experiencing. And you might be feeling the same way.

I don’t want to give in to my fear, and in order to do so, I have decided to make promises to myself, so that I can take the fear and use it to my advantage. 

Promise 1: I will not let fear rob me from riding my bike

I never learned to ride a bike as ayoung child (a very unfortunate tradition where girls are not encouraged to ride bikes or be active in sports). So I started trying as an adult and fell hard every single time. To be quite honest with you it can be slightly painful and mostly embarrassing when you keep trying next to your toddler and can’t seem to figure it out. So I basically quit trying. Now, my boys are older and will probably choose to take care of many chores rather than go on a bike ride with me. Instead of sitting inside feeling trapped, I have decided to see it as an opportunity to get the bike out again, and keep trying. I know I will fall a few times, but if I keep at it, I know I can learn!  

Promise 2: I will not let fear stop me from writing

Many times I feel I have a story worth sharing, an experience worth transcribing into words, an idea worth bringing up for debate. But, I find myself making conglomerate excuses to procrastinate. As I am at home, with time to write, I still feel fear. I know the underlying reason is my fear of being judged. English is my third language. My grammar, punctuation, sentence structure, and all components of good writing are far from perfect. But I still want to share my voice and my thoughts. To help me overcome my fears, I have decided to print this quote from Maya Angelou “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” I have framed it, and look at it when my fear sets in, and it gives me courage to write and share my stories with the world.

Promise 3: I will not let fear stop me from eating healthy

Being on lockdown, and not having regular access to grocery stores and restaurants, people are having to make new decisions about food. And unfortunately, that means that some will be making less than healthy decisions. I will not let the fear of isolation from the food I am used to stopping me from repeatedly talking my family into becoming vegetarians or vegans. I see now as a time to really reinforce healthy habits, and that means getting more creative with the food I have, and what I can get access to. 

In Conclusion

When you are fearful, it is your body and mind’s way of self-preservation. But don’t let your body and brain fool you. The fear you feel may be real, but you have to face it and make promises to yourself that those fears will not hold you back. What are some fears that you are feeling, and what promises do you need to make to yourself? Tweet me at @ReyzanShali to share some of your fears that you are having during this pandemic, and let me know the promises you are making to yourself to counter them.