Brexit,Trump, Death and Fear – What To Do Next

Fear. That small word that has such an enormous impact. And today, the day of Donald Trump’s inauguration, there will be many people feeling any one of the words associated with fear – here’s just a few: anxiety, jittery, uncomfortable, alarmed, jumpy, distrustful, timid, shy, apprehensive, unsure, uncertain, scared, worried.

 

Recognise any of them?

 

Many of these words can be used to describe how people in the UK, my country, feel about Brexit.

In both the USA and UK there is a lot of uncertainty going on.

 

Uncertainty tends to make people want to batten down the hatches, to cling on to what they know, to try to predict what is going to happen. Then we see people wanting to control others, to set up systems that will enable this and to minimize damage to themselves.

 

All of this applies not only to what is going on politically, but to individuals as they age.

 

When you are coming towards the end of your life, whether you think that is aged 50+ or 80+, uncertainty is what looms ahead. We don’t know what end of life means. We shy away from the word ‘death’, unable to comprehend what it might mean.

 

In the Western world, we behave as if it isn’t going to happen, and then have to take the consequences.

 

Hence we have rising hospitalisations, people suffering as life is prolonged unnecessarily, and thousands dealing with the mess and muddle that so often ensues after someone dies.

 

But all of it starts with fear.

 

If we can become more at ease with that word, and its cousins of uncertainty, not-knowing and contraction, then we can also face up to the practicalities involved in end of life, as well as the current political situation.

 

But it’s impossible to do that without re-connecting with your own individual life.

 

So I ask you, where is fear knocking on your door today?

 

In what area of your life? Maybe it is at a top political level. Maybe instead it is more about a neighbourhood issue or indeed, maybe it is because you or someone you know is coming towards the end of their life.

 

 

Whenever fear knocks, and in whatever guise, it is wise to open the door. It goes against your instincts, which is to bar the door, close the curtains and pretend there’s no-one there. But doing this entrenches fear more.

 

Doing this means that fear just infiltrates in more insidious ways, creeping up through the floorboards of the house, coming in through the air vents.

 

Just as with emotions we welcome in and wish to stay, we need to welcome in any member of the fear family and allow it to be present.

 

That means we have to allow it to be felt in our bodies. We need to notice the thoughts that accompany the feelings. And then we need to wait.

 

Now, I’m not talking here about fear in response to physical danger, when waiting is probably not the right thing to do! I’m talking about fear in response to what our minds are thinking.
Because have you noticed that not everyone is terrified of Brexit, Trump or dying? And it’s not because they voted one way or another, or are in 100% health, even though it looks that way. It’s because they are thinking about it differently.

So let me invite you to think differently, if you find you are feeling fearful.

 

First, open the door to the feelings. Let them into your house and allow them into all the rooms. Keep the back door open so they can depart as easily as you allowed them in.

 

This is one thing I discovered for myself after my husband died. When I let the feelings of grief (fear, anger, tears whatever) be felt, they disappeared. Yes, they might come back again, but slowly the length of time between visits lengthened. This does not happen if you block your door to feelings; rather the pushed-away feelings build up and burst out at all sorts of inappropriate times.

 

Secondly, notice your thoughts and even if they are screaming to you to act now, don’t do anything. Wait until the fearful feelings have left your house, and only then act.

 

If you do anything while fear is whirling around, the beneficial effects of what you are trying to do will be limited, and any detrimental effects will be heightened.

 

I know waiting is not a very sexy word. I know ‘not-knowing’ or uncertainty are not easy bedmates. But they are actually very rewarding when you get used to them.

 

Next time you notice yourself getting worked up about the political situation, pushing away thoughts of dying, death and grief, or just ignoring the whole lot, I invite you to actively welcome in the thoughts and feelings instead.

And then practice waiting and see what happens.

(and by the way, one way to welcome in end of life feelings and thoughts is to address the practicalities of what needs to happen when you come to pop your clogs. Check out Before I Go: Practical Questions to Ask and Answer Before You Die – it will help you).

 

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9 Responses to Brexit,Trump, Death and Fear – What To Do Next

  1. Patty Burgess January 20, 2017 at 1:28 pm #

    Wonderful Jane, speaking to let many people are feeling. It helps to know that we’re not alone. Thanks for this lovely, timely and thoughtful post!

    • Jane Duncan Rogers January 20, 2017 at 3:59 pm #

      Thanks Patty. I know not everyone has to deal with fear, at least half the people in both countries may not be feeling any. But then change of all kinds brings fear because it’s still the unknown.

  2. Patricia Cherry January 20, 2017 at 3:49 pm #

    Thank you Jane. I am having to deal with fear at the moment in coming to terms with Macular Degeneration and facing having little sight in my older age. I am also transitioning into an older person and older body. Even though I have been writing and blogging about it. It’s not easy. Timely blog.

    • Jane Duncan Rogers January 20, 2017 at 4:00 pm #

      So sorry to hear this Patricia. I’m sure it’s not easy for you. Glad you found the blog to the point. Much love and support to you.

  3. Jane Duncan Rogers January 20, 2017 at 5:38 pm #

    I received a beautiful email comment from Chris in response to this post, which he has given permission for me to share with you all here. He said:

    I (mostly) do not fear what is to come. Oh, I can allow the fear of uncertainty to creep (or roar) into my life, and sometimes I do. Then I pause, take a breath, and say, “I know I’m afraid, and I could run and hide, but eventually I will have to face the fear. Just do it now and get through it. So far, you’re 100% successful, and you haven’t wasted the time fearing what is to come.”

    Believing this took a lot of work, and I’m glad I did that work.

  4. Alice Bulmer January 22, 2017 at 8:40 am #

    Thankyou Jane, this is a beautiful article – it contains a world of possibility crystallised into two simple steps, which can be used in all sorts of situations.
    I always enjoy reading your posts. I love your point of view. Interesting, thought-provoking, important, useful. Thankyou!
    Alice

    • Jane Duncan Rogers January 25, 2017 at 7:37 am #

      Thanks Alice – really appreciate that!

  5. jenny Oates February 1, 2017 at 11:06 am #

    Thanks Jane such wise words. I can certainly go into panic activity if I’m in fear so the thought of stopping to feel and not taking immediate action in that place of fear is so important. I do a practice of feeling where the fear is in my body and then listening and talking gently to that place as I would a frightened child or animal. I may need to do this a lot to calm down! Sometimes ‘feel the fear and do it anyway’ is the best thing but I am also learning to be kind to myself and not to push when I am in a frantic or traumatic type of fear. I have found by not pushing and allowing space, events have come about that support me. So I really appreciate your comments opening this idea of stopping to feel first. This seems like a very loving act for ourselves.

    • Jane Duncan Rogers February 1, 2017 at 5:52 pm #

      That’s beautiful Jenny – a very self-loving way to embrace that emotion which we so often want to push away.

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