If you have a loved one who is suffering from the virus, this post is not for you. This is not about putting a rainbow on sickness and suffering. Rather, this episode is for the vast majority of us who don’t know anyone with the physical disease, but who are personally and acutely affected by the mental aspect of the fear of this disease in our society.
Learning about Ourselves with Kind Observation
The coronavirus situation is bringing into focus aspects of our character and personality in a way that hasn’t been in focus before. It is highlighting our strengths and our weaknesses. It is bringing into focus the positive pieces of our beings and also highlighting our opportunities for growth.
Today, I am here to encourage you to see this time for the pause button it presents. I believe we all have free will over our lives yet at different times, the universe will throw pebbles our way to get our attention. In my life, it had thrown pebbles that I didn’t pay attention to. Then it threw rocks. I still ignored them. When it threw a boulder, I dropped to my knees and finally paid attention.
Right now, it appears the universe has landed the equivalent of a meteor on humankind. We’ve been collectively ignoring the pebbles, rocks, and boulders. Now, it is our time to ponder individually and collectively, how we have been living. How have we been treating our bodies? How have we been treating the earth? How have we been treating our fellow humans? Where have we been hiding from the lives we’re here to live with either wine, food, overworking, opioids, antidepressants, busyness, etc.
Some of us will continue to hide, but I imagine that if you’re reading this you’re not a hider. You’ve heard the call. You felt the meteor. You’re ready to learn the lesson. And so I invite you to join me in kindly and curiously turning inward to reflect. It will come as no surprise that this cognitive-behavioral coach has two steps for you to dig into.
What is the Virus Highlighting for You?
I encourage you to schedule five to ten minutes to reflect on the strengths and weaknesses the virus is highlighting for you. You can do this on a walk without headphones or just sitting somewhere in your house with a pen and paper.
Step 1. Kind Observation
As I’ve said many many times, it all starts with awareness. We don’t know what we don’t know. The universe thinks many of us have been moving through life without much intention or conscious thought. I know I spent many years of my life living as if I was in the movie “Groundhog Day.” I made some choices at age 24 and didn’t re-investigate those choices until over ten years later. I kept going around my hamster wheel, not pausing to investigate if those choices I made were getting me where I wanted to go.
Now is the time to push pause and shine the light of awareness or consciousness on how we’ve been living. What have we been doing that’s working? What have we been doing that’s not working?
The more we can observe ourselves with a foundation of kindness, the more of an opportunity we create. With kindness as your foundation, move into self-observation and reflection. I invite you to open your mind to investigate how you’ve felt these last several weeks, the good, the bad, and the ugly as they say. Drop the judgment so we can learn what the universe is not so gently encouraging us to learn:
What has made you laugh? What has made you cry? What has triggered you? What has made your blood boil? Are you looking for ways to help people? Are you feeling tight-chested and thinking you don’t have enough? Are you critical of how your neighbors are handling this? What is bugging you? What is delighting to you? What is stressing you out? What do you do when you are stressed? How are those things helping you in the long run? What do you do to take care of your mental health? What do you do that harms your mental health?
Step 2: Marinate + Brainstorm
Step two is taking the answers to the above questions and marinating in them for a while. Let your brain ponder the answers and the learning you just did about yourself.
I view our life as one long self-exploration class. We are constantly given the opportunity to learn about ourselves. The more I learn, the more I can grow and evolve. This is super exciting for me and I encourage you to jump on the excitement bandwagon.
In the past, my perfectionist self would have been terrified at this sort of self-exploration. She would have been judgmental, critical, and mean. She would have observed it as a shortcoming, as if, there was a finish line of “Susie” that I needed to reach and if I wasn’t there, I had somehow failed.
I now choose to believe that I am perfect as I am. I am the exact version of myself that I am meant to be right now. Because that’s who I am. If I was meant to be different, I would be. Woo-hoo, mind-bending I know, but let’s not argue with reality. I am who I am and now I get to choose who I will become. There is no finish line. I get to learn, evolve, learn, evolve, learn, evolve my whole life. To further that learning, I love brainstorming by asking myself some of these powerful questions:
What aspect of my life could I shift for more joy? How do I usually feel at the end of my day? Where can I show up a bit better for myself and my community today? How about tomorrow?
How Do You Want to Look Back on this Time and How You Showed Up?
The universe has put us into a sort of forced reflection period. It has stripped away the fluff of distraction, our gym memberships, restaurant outings, heavy business hours, etc. and left us to witness how we’re using wine, work, food, shopping, and other people to manage our emotions. It is encouraging us to slow down so that, when we do restart, we do so intentionally and with our greater self in mind. Some of us will heed that call. Others will not. Which side do you want to be on?
Let’s go warriors. This is our time. We have the tools. We have the training. Game on.
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