When things are falling apart

Life is fascinating. Sometimes, something happens, and at first, it appears to be a bad thing, but then we later realize it was actually a good thing after all.

Once there was a family who had only one son. They were very poor. Their son was extremely precious to them, and the only thing that mattered to his family was that he would bring them some sort of financial support and prestige. One day, he was thrown from his horse and crippled. It seemed to them like the end of their lives. Two weeks later, the army arrived in the village and took away all the healthy, strong men to fight in the war, but this young man was allowed to stay behind and take care of his family.

Such is life. Things happen, like the current pandemic. Many of us struggle to see what is good about it. Our lives and our livelihood are disrupted. For many of us, it may feel as though our lives are falling apart. Many of us can identify with that. A phone rings in the wee hours of the morning, and there is a solemn voice on the other end, and your heart skips a beat. The doorbell rings, and a policeman or the minister with a sombre look on his face asks whether we have a moment. A doctor explains the devastating results of a scan. That moment when you learn that your partner is having an affair. That moment when you are told your services are no longer required. That moment when the bank calls up your loans. Those are the moments when our world falls apart. It feels as though we are standing on the edge of the unknown, having nothing to hold onto. Our minds race, as we try to find an explanation or a solution, while the fear is overtaking us.

Franklin D Roosevelt once said that the only thing we need to fear is fear itself. However, we need not fear fear – we just need to deal with it. Fear is not necessarily a bad thing. If we can manage to mindfully deal with fear, it can be useful, so it is okay to have fear. Fear can serve us. It is part of being human and being alive. When it feels as if our lives are falling apart and we are paralyzed by fear, it is helpful to remind ourselves:

Fear is a reaction. It is a reaction to a perceived threat. Remember that whatever we fear has not happened yet. Sure, I may have lost my job, but all those terrifying scenarios playing out in my mind of what the consequences of this will be are just that – fear-mongering scenarios. Bear in mind that fear can also be seen as an acronym for False-Evidence-Appearing-Real. The fact that I have lost my job does not mean I am going to end up living under a bridge. That is just a scenario concocted by fear. There is no evidence or proof that this will happen. Then why react to it as though it already has? Rather see it for what it is and spend no time there. It just creates more fear. Instead, stay calm, remain in the present, and tap into the inner resources that will carry you through a time like this. You have what it takes.

Fear wants to move us closer to the truth. If only we had the courage to remain with our fear for a while, and not try to escape the situation; this may reveal some truth to us. Instead of escaping from the situation by drowning our fears with some type of substance or with frantic busyness, perhaps we could try to name our fears and figure out what the real truth is. Perhaps our biggest fear is not that the relationship may end, but that we will be alone. Perhaps our biggest fear is not that we may lose our job, but that we feel incompetent to do anything else. Perhaps our biggest fear is not so much that we may run out of money, but that we fear the humiliation this may bring. Find the real fear. Find the real truth. Allow fear to help you uncover what you really fear and then deal with that.

So, is this pandemic a good thing or a bad thing? Surely, if my life is practically falling apart, it is a bad thing, right? Well, maybe. Maybe not. Perhaps we should wait a while before we answer that question because what if your life is not falling apart, but falling into place?