Don’t Spread Germs – Or Anxiety

Hey, Fam. How ya doing?

Are you feeling like you woke up and the world had all changed? Yes, me, too.

It has been documented that one of the most difficult feelings for humans to withstand is uncertainty. When things are not predictable, we get … well, I call it “twitchy.” We become more reactive. We become anxious. In an article in The Atlantic, they mention research showing that most people would rather get an immediate, painful shock that definitely comes than wait for a painful shock that may or may not arrive.

In that same article, they note that different people have different levels of tolerance for uncertainty. Where do you think you fall?

There is so much to be anxious about right now. Heck, I can’t tell you what things will be like next week, let along 6 months from now. But I can tell you this: acting out of our anxiety rather than our best thinking is rarely a good choice. (Unless you’re literally being chased by a tiger. Our amygdala is terrific for that!)

Anxiety is contagious. That’s why leaders study how to be non-anxious. Or as I’ve heard it described before, “the least anxious person in the room.”

We are each responsible for managing our own anxiety and emotionally mature people work on this mindfully. We find trusted people to talk to, but we don’t “dump” our anxiety on them, trying to get them as stirred up as we are. And we don’t act out of that anxiety. One member of Live Oak was restocking store shelves and was left with a terrible bruise on their ribs when a frantic customer elbowed them, in an attempt to grab a package of toilet paper. Really!

Part of being in a community means talking, listening, and connecting with each other. This can become a tremendous gift: to listen to someone share their fears and their feelings, and yet not take in their anxiety. Just listen. Not problem-solve. Not judge.

Just listen.

And we have to take time to listen to ourselves, too. Listen when our minds say, “I need a break.” Listen when our hearts say, “I need to look at something beautiful … or cry … or take a long walk outside.”

We got a gift to help with that, this week. Our intern minister, Kiya Heartwood, and her wife Rev. Meg Barnhouse, recorded themselves singing one of Rev. Barnhouse’s most beloved songs, and one that many of us are finding calming in these anxious days. So take a deep breath, maybe close your eyes, and listen to the timeless assurance that All Will Be Well: