Our Lives Under Constant (Perceived) Threat
We live in a world where the perception of threat is out of proportion to the risks we face. Our brains are super suggestive. We can watch a movie and be terrified one moment, moved to tears the next knowing they are actors telling a story. We choose to play in the world of terror or heartbreak or gruesome or humor.
How many murders have you witnessed this week? How many crime scenes?
Then there are the news stories and the articles on Facebook. How many things have you added to your list of concerns? Did you hear that coffee causes cancer (or maybe not)?
When I was a kid my parents wanted me to be healthy and happy and they wanted the best for me. They paid for private school, they put healthy food on the table, they took us to the library and museums and to church and they talked about their values. I don’t think they lost much sleep over it. They were good parents.
Today’s parents worry about nutrition, discipline, sleep, screen time, child abduction, obesity, brain development, sex offenders, bullying, attachment, vaccinations, mental health, social justice, reading minutes, college costs… I am afraid if I go on I will send your over the edge.
We have the perceived threat that the world is violent, that our country is on the brink of (more) war, that our economic system is corrupt and unstable, that our homes are full of mold and asbestos and harmful chemicals. We have the concern that we have to work harder, do more, not miss anything. We are chronically busy, over stimulated and tired. And we are deeply worried that we are messing up our kids.
Screwing up the kids?
I guess we are. If we wanted to raise them without bumps and bruises and a couple of scars we’d have to bubble wrap them and leave them on the couch forever… which we know simply damage them in other ways. We also can’t raise them without hurting their feelings and letting them down or bruising their egos or shaming them or yelling at them. Being loved is messy and painful. We’ll get lots of it right, maybe not the first time but ultimately. We’ll screw up and fix it and try again.
Check your fears. Are they running your life? Are they distorted? Are they raising your cortisone levels? Do you ever feel good enough or safe or calm? Are you feeding your brain on doubts?
I know I sound like a broken record… how do we protect ourselves and our families from the enormous stress of perceived threats? We slow down. We do one day at a time. We pray or meditate. We sleep more and play more and laugh more. We breath. We find our true north, our core, our faith, our values. We love… love deeply, well the mess of life. Something bad is going to happen. In the meantime, we’ll be best prepared for it by filling our tanks and savoring the best of life.