Sharon Prentice, PhD

Transformational Psychologist and Author

Separating Fear from Fact

My crazy hot messes, my beautiful Souls-

I so hope this finds you safe and well! I’ve had all of you in my thoughts and prayers and I’ve been trying to figure out the best way to support you in this absolutely nutty time! I know many of you are worried and quite literally scared to death about what this virus is doing to our families, our jobs, our country-and to the world.

I wish I were a much wiser woman and had all the answers that would calm your Soul. But I don’t have all those answers! But what I DO have is time.  Time to respond to you, to listen to you, to “be there” with you as you try to process the fears and worries that may have taken over your life.  I feel that way too! But you must remember that allowing fear to rule the day only makes this situation so much worse.

Fear is running rampant these days and a lot of that fear is based on what you see and hear from the media.  Human nature is such that worry and anxiety are natural responses to trauma. This response, in turn, can be the beginning of a PTSD takeover of your life. Its natural to feel anxious and scared when presented with this kind of a health pandemic.  What you allow into your “brain”, what you perceive as real and threatening can actually be much worse than what is truly happening! Fear vs fact…again- fear vs fact! Know the difference…

In our home, because of the constant fear mongering, we have turned OFF the constant bombardment of the media. I know some of you are watching television non-stop and leaning into all the extreme negativity that is blasted into our homes every second of every day. We do stay abreast of the facts involved in this crisis and listen to those we believe are credible but the constant negativity swirling around us 24 hrs a day-is extremely trying and not supportive of our psychological, emotional or spiritual well-being!  Instead, in our home, we have pulled out all the old board games (gone dusty with neglect), a plethora of movies are being watched and, the best part- music is being ramped up! So much so that the kids are teaching me new dance steps! You must be supportive of each other’s feelings and you must listen when someone needs to talk-but you must also take the additional steps necessary to identify what is real vs what is meant to scare the daylights outta ya! So get busy- pull out those games, put on that music- remember how to dance?

My beauties, fear is the enemy!  You need to separate fear from fact! There is a huge difference between the two. I completely understand how difficult it is to stop the worrying-especially if you or someone you love is immune compromised. I deal with that myself as I am one of those who must deal with auto immunity on a daily basis. I was diagnosed with autoimmune deficiency 19 yrs ago when I was exposed to some very nasty toxic mold that almost took my life.  My family was actually told to “take her home. She is beyond our medical knowledge.” But with the love and support from all my family and the best medical experts we could find- here I am some 19 years later. Yes, we are completely isolated right now but living within an abundance of caution has its high points too!

Here’s the thing about the isolation we are all feeling. Don’t think of it as “isolation.” Instead, think of it as taking care of those you love. Don’t think “he or she is gonna get me sick!”  Think of it as “I don’t want to get them sick!”  Huge difference, don’t you think? You, all of you- are now the protectors of those you love! And family time is great! Eating together, playing together, dancing together, cooking together. This time is invaluable and, trust me- I am taking total advantage of it all! Reconnecting with family-how awesome is that? Family roles fuse and everyone becomes helper and caregiver to the other. These unanticipated trials and traumas have a very unique way of pushing all the nonsense aside and leaving only the love we have for each other.

Here’s the thing- during chaotic times we all find that “fall back” position of being with and supporting each other. Love and compassion just seem to ooze out from every cell in our bodies as we look after each other, check on our neighbors and friends, and do what we can do for our community.

So, the rule for the day and the days ahead- try, really try to banish fear from your agenda. Replace it with fact! There is so much info out there coming at ya from every direction. Make sure what you are paying attention to is coming from a place of fact! The misinformation machine is pumping out all kinds of bad, scary info…learn to recognize it and don’t allow it into your life!

Finally, and this comes from someone who has been dealing with immune deficiency for years-do everything you can to pump up your immune system and that of your loved ones. Your diet is all important. Eat well! As a vegan household, we leave gluten, dairy, animal products off our plates. Lots of fruits and veggies are great for you!  Make up a great big ‘ole pot of soup- add some beans and rice and veggies of all kinds. Think of this as a great way to experiment with what you feed your family. Get lots-and I mean lots of Vitamin C and Vitamin D and zinc and selenium- all necessary for optimal immune functioning. Experiment! Learn how to cook!

But, most importantly, have faith. Pray together, talk with each other, share your true feelings. Make what is a private thought into a public thought! There’s a tremendous benefit to “getting it out” of your Soul and into the support system you have in place. Loving each other requires compassion and patience and sometimes- great courage to open up your heart and become vulnerable to someone else. But isn’t that what love and support is all about?

Over the next few weeks, many of those we know and love may face unexpected health concerns- but I know that you and I are doing everything we can to beat back this virus! We will win this battle. We will meet this hazard head on and kick it in its teeth-or in its butt-which ever you prefer! We will do this together as a family, as a community, as a nation-as a world in solidarity with each other.

Remember this- stress alone can make you quite ill. Fear and worry only exacerbate the situation. Know the facts. Listen to the facts-not the fantasy. Manage that fear-don’t let it manage you or take over your life or that of those you love.

The unknown always causes rampant anxiety- that’s a natural human response. But there is one thing greater than anxiety and fear- love.

Lean on love.