It has been a while since I have posted a blog. I know all of our lives have been turned upside down in the past couple of weeks, and I recently had a friend tell me that she could use one of my emails! Thank you (you know who you are).
“Okay no pressure Elizabeth”, I tell myself. “What do I even say?”
I feel like it’s all being said. We all know what we can do to make the quarantine time less depressing or anxiety ridden. We all know by now to focus on today. We know to stop obsessing over the next news report. We know it’s important to take social media breaks. We know to check in on our friends and relatives. We know to go for walks, declutter our homes, declutter our minds, meditate, read, listen to music, connect to nature, watch Netflix, self-care, and so on.
(From Carrie Stephens Arts, TheCounselingTeacher.com)
We also know to focus only on what we CAN control right now. And we know that it is important to continue to turn our minds and radically accept the present moment, even if we don’t like it. Fighting what is is pretty much useless unless your goal is to create more stress (and I know it’s not).
It reminds me of the serenity prayer:
“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”
Okay all that being said, what else do I say?
I am nowhere near an expert on viruses or politics, so I can’t say much about that. I can talk about mental health and spiritual wellness, so that is where my mind always goes. I have chosen to see any challenge in my personal life as a learning opportunity. We can take these learning opportunities to a global scale now.
I’m not going to lie. I have gotten caught up in the panic too at times. (Not that the panic isn’t justified. Panic just never helps things that are already bad). It’s actually impossible not to catch it. Panic is infectious. Simply being around someone who is panicking will cause you to catch it. You might notice your brain moving a little faster, your heart beating faster, or not being able to think as clearly after an interaction with someone who is freaking out.
I mean, when a trip to the grocery store feels like a scene from a science fiction movie with everyone in gloves and masks, and a big plastic barrier between you and the checkout person, well, it’s hard not to feel a bit “off”. Yes, we will feel panicked when we get into the car if we are honest with ourselves. (The question is, what do we do with this panic? Do we call and text everyone we know in order to spread it, or do we breathe through it or help ourselves through it in another way?)
By the way, I am by no means saying the protective means like gloves and masks and plastic glass are not necessary. I believe they are necessary. My point is, the entire thing is quite traumatizing for everyone. Most of us are lucky enough to not have experienced not feeling safe at a grocery store. And even though some are affected more than others, everyone in the world right now is affected in their own way.
That brings me to my point, everyone in the world. My husband and I went for a walk on a nature trail last weekend, and it hit me. On a normal day when we smile and wave to the people walking by on the trail, we have no idea what the other people on the trail are thinking about. We are all usually caught up in our own worlds and our own problems. We do not feel any connection to strangers in those “normal” moments, because we aren’t even really in the moment. We are in our minds, somewhere else. But last weekend was different. I knew that everyone I smiled and nodded to on the trail was thinking about the same thing as me. We know what everyone is thinking about. We have friends in Germany and Japan who are thinking about the same thing as us. We are all in this together.
I went to Jewel (a local grocery store) last weekend, and at the cash register it asked if I wanted to help out people in need during “this crisis”. “This crisis”. They didn’t even have to say COVID 19 or Coronavirus. Because they know we know. I think most of us can say, we have never experienced anything like “this crisis”.
I tend to be paranoid that people are going to take my spin on things as not taking things seriously or saying bad things are good. That is not my intention. I would never wish this pandemic on anyone. On the other end, when I’m real and raw, I don’t want to panic anyone with the straightforward truth that I am feeling. Always remember, feelings aren’t facts, and that includes my feelings. Neither of those opposing views are my intention here (when you write a public blog, well, people WILL read you wrong, and that is MY lesson to learn, still learning that haha). My intention is to be real, and to bring something deeper to this experience. I know we can do it together.
In dialectical behavioral therapy, they talk about “radical acceptance”. Radical acceptance is about not fighting against what is. It’s also accepting that there can be two possible opposing truths in most situations. (For example, I can totally love myself as I am while also trying to be better. Or I can know this crisis is serious while still laughing during it). On a deeper scale, I think it’s about accepting that everything is possible. There is a freedom in that. We don’t have to know everything. We are not “good” or “bad”. We don’t have to categorize ourselves or anyone else as our brains love to do. Lastly, once we radically accept what is happening, we are able to come up with creative solutions to anything. I love the term “radical” because sometimes it feels very radical to accept what is. And there is a part of me that longs to be radical.
I can’t say, it’s all going to be okay. I mean I feel that we can choose to be “okay” no matter what (peace begins with me), but I am not even sure what your definition of “okay” is, so I won’t go there. I also can’t say when it will be better. I have no idea right now what the future holds. I don’t pretend to know. But guess what? I never did know. No one did. In that sense nothing has really changed. We do the best we can in any given moment (while also trying to do better). And I think one of the lessons we can learn here is just that. We know now in our hearts that we do not ever truly know what tomorrow holds. How does that knowledge make you want to live your life differently? What really matters?
I also know that I have discovered that I can live a simpler, slower life. It’s actually what I have always wanted. I know now that I need less than I thought, and I plan on keeping it this way. I do not need more stuff to take up more time and more money.
I also feel there is something beautiful in this feeling that we are all thinking about the same thing right now. We are all connected. We are all one. We all want things to get better. I can tune into a deep down peace in that. Can you? It’s empowering.
I am curious too, what have you learned from “this crisis”? Please share by commenting below, so we can join our minds and let these lessons raise us “above the suffering of this world, to the endless peace that lies beyond” as Marianne Williamson says. I am choosing to learn my lessons and rise above. How about you?
Peace, Love, and Mental and Physical Health through “this crisis”,