What a wild ride it has been these last few weeks. Words like pandemic, recession, death, isolation, and panic flood the news, social feeds, and every conversation. These aren’t words we usually want to experience in our lifetime, yet here we are.
If there is one thing I know for sure, it is that change is the only constant.
Right now, most of the people in the world have been impacted or experienced some kind of change. Maybe you can relate to this:
- Some parents are home with their children juggling homeschooling for the first time and remote work with the looming question if they will have a job next week.
- Some kids are home with their parents juggling neglect, abuse, or an addicted parent.
- Some seniors are sitting in their isolated nursing home lonely and terrified because they are in the high-risk group.
- Some cancer survivors are taking care of their families while having anxious thoughts of their incredibly weak immune systems after chemo or treatment.
- Many homeless people are going to bed starving because their soup kitchen has been closed.
- Some people with deep depression or anxiety are really suffering from the unknown.
- Healthcare professionals are working nonstop with little to no sleep to help those in need.
- Many people are being asked to physically come to work, regardless if they feel comfortable going outside of their home.
- Some people are grieving the loss of their loved ones who have died from the virus.
- Some people are lying deathly ill in bed with the virus fighting to make it to tomorrow.
- Some people are lying deathly ill in bed without the virus fighting to make it to tomorrow.
Everyone has been affected by this change, and the feeling of someone quickly taking the rug from under our feet is all too common right now. If I have learned anything in my life, it’s that we can’t control what happens to us, but we can control how we respond to what happens to us.
This is where our power lies, and only you can cultivate this power within yourself. We didn’t choose these life-changing events to happen, but we can control our response to it.
I am choosing to see this time as a teacher.
No, this doesn’t mean “you do you” and ignore that our behaviors can have severe consequences on innocent people. It’s taking responsibility for yourself, your thoughts, and your actions during this time and your entire life. If you decide to spend this time in front of the tube, drinking or getting stoned, and constantly numbing yourself from reality …that’s on you. If you decide to constantly check your news and social feeds, while your kids beg for your attention…that’s on you. If you decide to constantly put others down on social media for their impulsive reactions, to make yourself feel better…that’s on you. If you decide to live in and spread constant fear and anxiety …that’s on you.
Here are a few ways I am taking responsibility for my thoughts and actions and seeing this time as a teacher.
Why do I constantly need to be doing?
We have built these brick walls of life around ourselves, distracting us from what really matters, how we really feel about our lives or the daunting thought of how little life we were actually living before the pandemic. Now that some of our walls have been torn down, and we’re forced to face a scary unknown…
The unknown of who we actually are without all of the distractions.
I get it. Our lives and schedules are packed so full, so sitting still is scarier than hearing someone sneeze right now. We have built these walls, one brick at a time of our nonstop to-do’s, watching hours upon hours of TV, numbing ourselves with alcohol and drugs, our physical home and things, our bank account numbers, retail therapy, what we wear, or who we associate with. The walls can also be the identities we cling to like our jobs, our degrees, being a parent or non-parent, our achievements, our social status, who we are on social media, and so much more.
I want to plant the seed that these walls might be compromised at some point as we go through this time. This isn’t something to fear, but remember change is our only constant, so eventually, everything needs to evolve.
See this as an opportunity to redirect and adjust the things in your life you are unhappy with. I find the best time to do this, is when I feel this draw to be constantly doing.
If you find yourself getting bored or needing to fill time with something, I want to challenge you to sit and become aware of those thoughts. Why do you need to fill the stillness all of the time? Instead of reaching for your phone – sit in the silence with nothing. Evaluate and be honest with how you feel without all of the constant to-dos and distractions.
Who am I without all of my walls? If everything I knew that contributed to my day to day were to change, would I still be the same person?
Then dig deeper:
- Determine what is working and not working in your current day-to-day.
- When was the last time you were present with your family? No, I mean, really present with your family.
- When was the last time you took care of yourself?
- What’s the first answer that pops in your mind – are you surviving or thriving?
- Forgive the person who hurt you and never gave you an apology. Let that shit go and move on.
- Get a teletherapist and work through your trauma.
- Evaluate if you are living the life you want to live – Are you happy with the person you are? Do you like how you treat yourself? Are you a good friend/family member? Do you treat people the way you want to be treated? How can you be a better human to yourself, your family, or the world?
- Would you like to hang around you right now?
- What can I do to change these things I am unhappy with?
I believe many people will be shocked by facing their realities through this time in isolation. And the truth is, we all have things we want to change about our lives but haven’t done so because we glorify being busy. Even if you become more aware of your discontent with your life, you are a step closer than before. Use that energy to make a positive change in your life! Awareness is the gateway to acknowledge where you aren’t happy and taking action to recreate your life.
Commit to seeing this time as a teacher and adjust what you don’t like about your current life. If we all did this, despite what happens, we can at least look back and look at a positive during this time.
Do the things I complain about not having time for.
“Yeah right, I don’t have time for that.” We have all said some version of this statement when someone asks us what hobbies we have or what we do for fun. Most of us shrug when it comes to having fun in our lives outside of happy hour, visiting the fridge at night, or binge-watching shows.
Now is the time to pick up that paintbrush. Write that book. Spice up your sex life and try something new. Start that podcast. Take that course you bought 6 months ago. Read that book that has been sitting on your nightstand collecting dust. Learn how to cook. Learn the Thriller dance. Make amends with someone you have tension with. Declutter your closets. Call your lonely relative. Learn a new language. Follow through on that new business idea. Learn how to sew. Teach yourself and your kids how to manage money.
Now is the time for personal development. Learn how to do the things you always say you don’t have time for. Whatever you do, turn off the mindless screen and be present with what you are doing. If you do turn on a screen, there are tons of free courses, classes, and YouTube videos on how to do whatever your heart desires. If you needed a sign to start, this is it.
Commit to creating a better you during this time. If we all did this, despite what happens, we can at least look back and look at a positive during this time.
I check myself – often.
I found myself at first, quickly judging other people for their kneejerk reactions to our current events. It’s so easy to judge and make fun of people for their loads of toilet paper, bleach wipes, or whatever they are buying in bulk orders.
This is a time we have to dig deep with compassion and love for each other.
Everyone handles fear differently, and we’re seeing this crystal-clear right now. We can’t control what others do, but we can control how we respond, and putting others down does nothing productive. It spreads negative energy, fear, and creates low self-esteem – and we don’t need any more of that right now (or ever). Be mindful of what you share, comment, say or contribute to.
If there is a fire on your stove, you won’t add gasoline to it, right? Stop fueling the fire.
Instead, spread good intentions, prayer, thinking of you texts, compliments, good vibes, well wishes, positivity, contribute to your favorite charity, offer to go to the store for your elderly neighbor, and let that love spread like wildfire. Negativity and hate can slowly cease when one person is aware enough to stop their negative reaction, and then the next person does it and so on.
Commit to love and compassion during this time, especially when it’s hard to hold your tongue. If we all did this, despite what happens, we can at least look back and look at a positive during this time.
You can choose to react, or you can choose to continue living with intention. I don’t know what the future holds, but I am choosing to live every day as peacefully and mindfully as I can in this present moment. Tomorrow is never guaranteed to any of us, so the present moment is all we have.
Remember, our only constant is change. Just like the weather, this season will pass, and it’s up to you on how you will approach it.
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