You can feel it wherever you go during this global pandemic…uncertainty, fear and insecurity.
For some, the encouragement to stay sheltered in place has started to feel oppressive rather than protective.
Simple things like needing to go out into the world to get groceries or pet food can turn up the volume on anxiety and day by day, the anxiety can accumulate, wearing us out, making us feel apathetic and despondent. When will things get back to normal again?
Humans have a penchant for wanting things to stay the same, to be consistent, reliable and predictable.
The arrival of the novel coronavirus has ripped away the curtain of the illusion of stability. We can see more clearly than ever that life is all about uncertainty. Nothing stays the same, everything is changing.
Whenever we are out of alignment with how life works, we will feel distressed and can succumb to a strong desire to exert control over situations or other people to get things back to what we consider normal. This strategy rarely works, though, does it? No matter how much it promises, it doesn’t deliver, or rather it does deliver, but just not the kind of things or experiences we want: frustration, resentment, reactivity, apathy, amongst others.
There has been unimaginable suffering throughout the world these past few months, including around where we live, work and play.
There are people dying in the hundreds every single day due to the virus. There have been and will be many other losses, (financial, professional, social, adventure or travel opportunities), with no guarantee about when it will all stop.
We have no control over any of it.
The Stoic philosophers say that the only thing we have control over is what we do in this very moment, right now. That’s it. Everything else goes on the list with the header, “Not Under My Control.”
If something or someone is not under my control, how much effort should I put into trying to control it/them? (It sounds ridiculously obvious when it is put in that way, but it usually doesn’t stop us from trying to control, does it?).
It can be helpful to use this strange time to engage in some reflection, something that was usually in short supply when we were back in the pre-pandemic days.
Taking time to press pause and examine our minds and hearts can provide some much needed hope and direction.
Here are a few questions that I have found helpful in terms of gaining more clarity about my life and regaining my poise. I hope they might inspire you to put aside some time to consider them, or come up with your own questions that will lead you to being the kind of person you want to be, even during these strange times:
“If I were being the person I really wanted to be in this situation, what would I be doing, saying?”
“What could I learn from this, even though I don’t like the feeling I have inside about it right now?”
“Am I living today, this moment, in accordance with the kind of person I want to be?”
“How much of what my mind is telling me about this situation is based on reality vs fear?”
“Do I have any control over this situation or person? If not, am I willing to loosen my grip in trying to control what is not under my control?”
“If I were really living freely and authentically, (not in reaction to others, or some kind of self or other imposed expectations), what would I be doing with my life?”
“If I could freely choose who I want to be and what I want to do, what would I choose?”
“What have I always wanted to be, do or have but have not allowed myself to experience, yet?
“What do I think is holding me back from living the life I really want for myself?”
“What would happen if I did take the actions that are in alignment with the highest vision I have for me and my life?”
Sometimes, questions provide the answers that we are looking for. They can help us navigate more smoothly through the inevitable rough waters of life.
We are all truly in the same boat right now. The more we treat ourselves with care and compassion, the more capacity we will have to treat others with care and compassion. The clearer we are about what matters in our life, the less time we will spend struggling with the things and people over which/whom we never had any control anyway. The energy that is freed from fruitless efforts to control is now available to live my life right now.
Who am I? What matters? What do I want my life to be about? Revisiting these questions over and over can help ground us while the surges of uncertainty crash all around us.
“The tranquillity that comes when you stop caring what they say. Or think, or do. Only what you do…” -Marcus Aurelius