Maria’s Sunday Paper: Changing the Way We Think About Fear
As I travel around the country for my “I’ve Been Thinking…” book tour, I continue to be moved by the conversations I’m having with people along the way. This week, I was particularly struck by the conversations I’ve had with people about fear.
Fear. It’s one of the scariest and most complex emotions that we face as human beings. It can paralyze us and stop us in our tracks. Or, it can motivate us to keep fighting and keep pushing forward. Pushing through fear is not easy, I know. But it really is up to each of us to decide how to manage this nerve-wracking emotion that wreaks havoc on so many of us.
This week, I felt moved as I watched so many students push through their fear and use it as a motivator to stand up and speak out against gun violence, walking out of classrooms across the country. Rightfully so, these students and their parents are terrified of what is happening on school campuses across America. They don’t want to live in fear any longer as they sit in class or drop their kids off at school. These students and those who support them are using their fear to propel themselves and others into action. I am so inspired by their indignation and I admire the way they are using their voices.
My mother once told me that you are never too young to create an impact. You are never too young to make a difference. You may have to be 35 to run for president, but you don’t have to be that age to make a difference. That’s why I bow down to these students and I look forward to joining them next weekend as they mobilize again for “March For Our Lives.”
I also bow down to my daughter Christina, who is using her voice and the fears of her generation to have an honest conversation about the pressures we put on ourselves to succeed. In college, Christina witnessed first-hand the epidemic of young people over-using Adderall and other cognitive-enhancing drugs. After realizing that no one else had made a film on this topic, she decided to executive produce a new Netflix documentary called “Take Your Pills,” which explores why these drugs are being overprescribed. The lessons in the film (which is out now) will put us all on notice — parents, educators doctors, etc. It will wake us up to what’s happening in our midst and to what we are losing as we get caught up in a hyper-competitive, chaotic cycle.
The fear of not being able to succeed is something I know all too well. It’s something I know from my own life, and it’s something I know from what I’m hearing from others on the road.
People of all ages have been expressing their fears to me. Fears of failing. Fears of failing their children. Fears about their jobs, their health, and of letting go. Of course, so many of us are also feeling fearful about what’s happening in our leadership at the highest levels of government.
In the past, fear has occasionally gotten the best of me. But, I’ve come to realize that fear is no match for my own internal strength. The more I’ve pushed through my own fear — the more internal fortitude I’ve built up — the less of a hold it has had on me.
So, if fear has a grip on you, acknowledge it. Take a breath. And then, imagine yourself as a strong warrior — a warrior of compassion, of wisdom and of truth. Take a step forward from that point and visualize the fear melting away. Trust me, that’s exactly what it will do.
Keep breathing, keep moving, and keep your vision intact. That’s what we all have to do if we’re going to live through our fears and overcome them.
And, in times when it’s hardest, keep this truth in your back pocket: those who create fear and havoc… those who try to scare you into believing they are all-powerful and that you know nothing… Well, they are usually the most scared of us all. That’s exactly why they create chaos: to undermine, to scare and to confuse.
So, push up against your fear. Always remember that it — and the people who try to scare you — are no match for the strength that lives within you to make a difference.
WHAT OTHERS HAVE BEEN THINKING
CHRISTINA SCHWARZENEGGER EXPOSES US TO AMERICA’S ADDERALL EPIDEMIC IN NEW FILM ‘TAKE YOUR PILLS’
I was so proud and excited this week to talk to my daughter, Architect of Change Christina Schwarzenegger, about the new Netflix film she and I executive produced: “Take Your Pills,” now streaming. The documentary examines the rise in popularity of cognitive performance-enhancing drugs like Adderall. It’s a must-watch for everyone — parents, teachers, educators, psychiatrists, and more.
KHALIL RAFATI SHARES HIS INCREDIBLE JOURNEY FROM HOMELESS ADDICT TO JUICE MAGNATE
I recently sat down with Khalil Rafati of SunLife Organics for an Architects of Change LIVE chat. He talked to me about his extraordinary story of going from being homeless and living under a bridge, to becoming an organic juice magnate and author of the book, “I Forgot to Die.”
JACK KORNFIELD SHOWS US THE POWER OF FORGIVENESS
This piece has stayed with me long after reading it. My dear friend and Architect of Change Jack Kornfield shares the extraordinary story of a woman who, not only faced her fear and hatred of her son’s killer, but learned to forgive and embrace him.
PASTOR ADAM HAMILTON EXPLAINS WHY WE HAVE NOTHING TO FEAR BY BEING ALONE
Author Adam Hamilton, senior pastor of the 20,000-member Church of the Resurrection in Kansas City, is a leading voice for reconciliation and renewal. In his latest book “Unafraid: Living With Courage and Hope in Uncertain Times,” Adam explores how to deal with and face the very real fears in our lives. In this excerpt, Adam explains how to face our fear of loneliness.
FOLLOWING AN ASSASSINATION ATTEMPT, GABBY GIFFORDS AND HUSBAND ASTRONAUT MARK KELLY DEVOTE THEIR LIVES TO FIGHTING GUN VIOLENCE
In 2011, former congresswoman Gabby Giffords was shot in the head while meeting with constituents in her hometown of Tucson, AZ.
Though critically injured, she ultimately returned to service with husband, Navy combat veteran and retired NASA astronaut Captain Mark Kelly, to form Giffords, an organization to fight the gun violence epidemic. We honor both Gabby and Mark as our Architects of Change of the Week for their tireless efforts affecting change at the state and local levels.
NEWS ABOVE THE NOISE
1. STUDENTS TAKE TO THE STREETS TO MARCH FOR THEIR LIVES: This week. we’d like to take a moment to recognize all those students who walked out of their classrooms last week, as well as those who will be participating in the nationwide March For Our Lives rally on March 24th. Three students who are among the 19 organizers of March For Our Lives wrote an opinion piece for the New York Times last week that’s worth reading. Their words will get you thinking, and might even inspire you to join them.
March For Our Lives rallies will be happening across the country on March 24. TO find a march near you,
2. WASHINGTON D.C. ‘PEACE TEACHER’ FEELS HER JOB HAS NEVER BEEN MORE IMPORTANT: I wish more schools would hire full-time social-emotional educators like Linda Ryden. She believes that schools should focus on getting to the root of troubled kids’ problems rather than spend more money on guards and staff whose sole purpose is to break up fights and discipline.
3. FATHER OF PARKLAND SHOOTING VICTIM TO DEDICATE LIFE TO FIGHTING GUN VIOLENCE: I can’t even imagine what this brave man must be experiencing, but Fred Guttenburg is turning his personal tragedy — the loss of his 14-year-old daughter Jaime — into positive action. This piece is both poignant and empowering.
4. STEPHEN HAWKING CREDITED HIS LONGEVITY TO HAVING AN ACTIVE MIND: This should be a lesson for all of us. Despite his devastating ALS diagnosis at the age of 21, and with only a three-year life prognosis, Hawking lived an extra five decades. He says this is due to having a sense of humor and keeping his mind active.
5. STUDY REPORTS THAT FIT WOMEN ARE LESS LIKELY TO DEVELOP DEMENTIA: This is exciting news out of Sweden. A new study in the journal Neurology reveals that women who were highly fit in mid-life were nearly 90 percent less likely to get dementia decades later.
6. ELON MUSK OFFERS FESTIVAL CROWD HOPE FOR THE FUTURE: Last week at SXSW in Dallas, TX, Elon Musk took to the stage to introduce a video trailer produced by the creators of the TV show Westworld. During his remarks, he said the following, a lesson for us all: “There are lots of problems that need to get solved. Lots of things that are miserable and kind of get you down, But life cannot just be about solving one miserable problem after another…there needs to be things that inspire you, that make you glad to wake up in the morning and be part of humanity. That’s why we did this.”
7. PHOTO OF JOE BIDEN HELPING HOMELESS MAN GOES VIRAL: I love that this photo of former Vice President Joe Biden helping out a homeless man in Georgetown has gone viral. After viewing the image, Paul Equale, a D.C. Public Affairs consultant wrote, “Character is about what you do when no one is watching.”
INSPIRING SPEECHES FROM LEADERS AMONG US
Want to Change the World? Start by Making Your Bed: I love this commencement address given by Admiral William H. McRaven in 2014. Instead of offering overblown advice, he offers this simple, but profound, address to this class of University of Texas graduates.
JOIN US ON THE “I’VE BEEN THINKING…” TOUR
I thought this beautiful reflection from the late Stephen Hawking would be appropriate this weekend. This visionary physicist reminds us to always look forward, even in the face of adversity, because we are all capable of fulfilling our dreams.
INSPIRATION FOR THE WEEK AHEAD
SHOP OUR STORE: SEE OUR COLLECTION
Get Empowered. Pass It Forward.
We’re so excited to announce that we’ve added a few new items to our shop! Check out our stylish apparel to fight Alzheimer’s, created in partnership with Art With a Purpose. You can also order our newest product, the “Maria” candle – the same scent used in her office and home. Visit the shop on MariaShriver.com to learn more.