Saint Corona is among us and there’s panic in the air. You've started clearing out your cupboards and scrubbing the floors (it can’t just be me!). You're anxious because the present and future you expected are in jeopardy and things might not turn out how you envisaged. You can't sleep at night but want to sleep all day. Now what?
It is easy to let fear overrun you right now as we hear of people dying and sources of income drying up. One thing I am finding useful is knowing that WE ARE ALL IN THE SAME BOAT; we are all feeling the pinch. And we ALL have a CHOICE in how to respond to this situation. The purpose of this piece is to introduce the notion that THIS COULD BE A FABULOUS OPPORTUNITY. (Tech such as ‘Zoom’ is booming for example. Rhyme intended).
Coping, resilience, antifragility are all about adaptability - mentally adjusting to changing circumstances. Being upset that things aren't as we want them can actually feel good in the moment - sometimes we do just need to rant, cry or scream (I had a cry this afternoon because I felt frustrated that I hadn’t completed the tasks I’d set myself and briefly blamed it on confinement before admitting that confinement had nothing to do with it) - but when that's done you need to snap out of it and adapt your thinking.
Imagine that lockdown is forever, like when a person dies. They’re gone forever so we have to adapt to life without them. We have no idea how long this will last so it’s wise to pretend life as we knew it has died and is gone forever, too. Grim, but sensible.
Just as when someone dies, so we must adapt to the new reality. We can choose to adapt to life’s changes or choose to feel frustrated and resentful. Holding onto expectations of how life “should” be is only going to make us more frustrated. We can choose to get stuck in a mental realm of victimhood, longing for a fantasy life that no longer exists, or get on with making the best of what we’ve got.
So HOW the bejesus do we let go and move on?
Change your mindset. Not easy, but more empowering than staying pissed off, anxious and feeling like a victim. Of course, you could wallow forever in your victimhood - that can be gratifying too.
Here are some tips:
~ Learn to love the situation you’re in rather than longing for the aforementioned fantasy life that you wish was happening instead. I’d highly recommend you read Viktor Frankl’s book Man’s Search for Meaning which explains why some people in Nazi concentration camps survived while others withered and died. It explains how our perceptions decide our experience, not what’s going on around us.
~ You may not be able to change the situation but how you PERCEIVE it and DECIDE TO ACT upon it are entirely up to you. You can choose to let the outside world control your internal experience, or perceptions of your own magnificent making.
~ If you are seeing this as a nightmare, you are only seeing the downsides and you’ll feel depressed or anxious about it. To lift yourself, you need to ask yourself “what are the blessings”, “how can I use this to my advantage”, “what is the silver lining”?
~ Setbacks and challenges always come with OPPORTUNITIES if you choose to see and take them:
~ USE THIS TIME to figure out what truly inspires you.
~ FIND WAYS to do things you love, even if it’s not the way you would ideally want it. Learn to love those ways, too.
~ Find ways to be GRATEFUL for what you CAN DO and what YOU HAVE - make a list of all the benefits of being in isolation. You now have all the time you need to:
· write that novel you've been threatening to write for years
· hang out with your darling (devil) children
· develop your inner Delia or whatever you set your heart to.
~ ask yourself HOW this situation is helping you achieve what you want in life.
One beautiful upshot of isolation is that it’s making us seek connection and ENABLING it. I know loads of us are rekindling far flung friendships and connections with people we haven’t spoken to in a while because we have the time and technology. How bloody lovely is that?!
This is not about namby pamby positive thinking, it’s about BALANCED THINKING. If you’re in a nightmare, you’re focusing on the negative. So start thinking of the benefits/advantages/lessons/silver linings because we need both sides in order to be balanced and HEALTHY (and not die when corona strikes us).
Conversely, if you’re anxious about losing something (job/money/home/a lover), focus on the NEGATIVE aspects of that thing in order to bring you back into balance, and you will no longer fear its loss. Cray-cray but true.
Remember: successful people thrive BECAUSE of adversity, not despite it.
Now is the time to learn not to be attached to a certain way of life, person or outcome - it can change at any time.
Saint Corona might just be the blessing the world needs to wake us up to what truly inspires us and the potential we have to contribute. It’s up to us whether we take this opportunity…
If you’ve read this far and still feel hopeless then you may be interested in joining my workshop this Sunday 5th April. The principles I will be sharing are applicable to any situation, not just Pain and Injuries, as the title would suggest. People who have done it before (with and without physical pain) have found enormous benefit from it. See you there!