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That’s a trifecta, huh!? What boggles the mind is that millions of people live under those headlines every day. Meaning, that in their personal and political landscapes, they live as Fear and Stress drive the bus, and the one aspect of their character that could save the world is buried.

I’m learning a lot about fear these days, mostly because I’m dealing with so much of it. If at once you decide to emerge from whatever cocoon you find yourself in, you will experience fear. That’s okay. I just finished a little book by Susan Jeffers on fear, and I recommend it. Basically, feel it and keep moving.

Let me start by saying, that it is my experience, and hence my belief, that the human condition is one of vulnerability. Look at the protection many species have: the skunk has it’s smell. Some animals have shells. Some have speed, some have poison, some have size, and claws, teeth, all of this as natural state of being. What do we have? In our natural condition, nothing to speak of. Our skin will stop no claws and few teeth. We have no poison, emit no smell, well, not like a skunk anyway, no speed, nothing really. In our natural state in nature, we are immediately challenged to protect ourselves first and foremost from the weather. And over the millenia of learning to do so, we have learned to do it with style. Animals not so much so. No art decorates their walls, they don’t make Craftsman dens. Whales just hang in the water. In that process though, we have forgotten it seems, our true nature: we are vulnerable.

What we are susceptible to these days could be said to be man made threats. Jobs that go away, disease, war, rejection, ridicule, spiders, clowns, the list of phobias and fears is long indeed. Now I’m thinking that after the event in Aurora, Colorado, going to a theater will generate fear in some for a long time, when in fact they choose to return to one. For me, I think not just of the victims of that event, but then the emergency responders who show up to help, to treat the wounded and thereby clean up the mess of that insanity. The trauma has an affect. It makes one fear every time the pager goes off, just a wee bit. But a wee bit more with every trauma call.

All of that together creates stress. And stress is a killer if we don’t recognize it and treat it. Stress is strain and tension, which can be physical, mental, or emotional, or all three at once, due to adverse or demanding circumstances. (I love my Oxford!) Four people looking for every job. Three of us are out of luck, and the older (ahem…), the more likely.  Add the fact there is not much in the way of job creation. An underwater mortgage. No health insurance. Or, getting out of the US, is that bus going to explode and kill us? Living in a tent in another country because a war monger destroyed my village, killed some of the family, friends, and neighbors, with no job, money, health insurance, or way of getting any. Being a sex slave. A lot of people live under stress and fear, and are incredibly vulnerable. And none of those demanding and adverse circumstances were brought on us by tigers. Or the rhinos. Not by whales, birds, cats, dogs, or any other animal, except  another human being.

The answer my friends, is love. Indeed. Sounds trite huh? The antithesis to fear it seems isn’t courage, it’s love. I think love is the natural state, the natural vulnerable state. Loving myself first is where it starts, and is the hardest of all. That vulnerable me that as a child was sexually abused, that grew up in a family that was angry and emotionally absent, and so learned to respond to relationships via that model. I have learned over the last 10 months to love myself, to treat myself and all my fears with gentleness. In so doing I have radically altered the way I look at myself and it has motivated action that has changed my career direction, my relationships, my ability and willingness to look others in the eye. My ability to receive love, and give it, to know what love feels like. My world has turned into a universe, and I’m discovering that the resources are amazing. Love doesn’t eliminate fear, because that emotion is an important one. Love does however, motivate action. Action creates results, and results change circumstances, and you guessed it, that changes your stress. I still have decisions to make, and painful ones. The courage to do so builds every day. I can make those decisions because I love myself and those around me enough to make decisions that will make a better world for everyone.

I want to change the world. So I am. By choosing to not live in stress and fear, which have been familiar friends for a long time, I am making that change. It seems across the globe there is a lot of that going on. There is also a lot of people who fight those changes. I’ve never heard the phrase though, that stress wins. Or fear. I have heard the one though, that love does….