The outbreak of coronavirus is impacting people all over the world—not just in terms of physical health, but financially, emotionally, and even socially. As were being challenged to adapt to our new circumstances, it can be tempting to let ourselves go and wait for it all to blow over so we can just get back to normal. Or we can see this as an incredible opportunity to figure out who we are and what’s most important to us.
In the face of a crisis, what is important to us becomes clear when we give ourselves the time and space to reflect on what is going to get us through this. What seemed important to us before this all started falls apart to reveal what really matters: family, love, unity, and health.
“Our values get tested in the face of a crisis. This is an opportunity to reconnect, recommit, and live our priorities.”
Regardless of what your going through or experiencing at this time, know that you are not alone. It’s important to understand that this pandemic knows no boundaries and it is challenging us as a global community to face something head on that we’ve never imagined possible.
Although during these hard times we are separated by distance, deprecated by miles, we are all in this together because of the shared circumstances.
People are terrified right now. Some are scared of getting the virus. Healthcare professionals are scared of being exposed, becoming a carrier and spreading the virus to their family they come home to everyday. Other people are scared of civil unrest. But the majority of people I talk to are scared of making it out of this without a job, source of income, or without any money left in their 401-K.
Everything is closed. Very few people are consuming products or paying for services that aren’t necessities. Businesses are being forced to let go of loyal, hardworking employees and massive layoffs are taking effect in every industry. Many of my friends and family members are affected by this and we are all experiencing some sense of loss here. Some issues are minor and some issues are major.
My homie and roommate, Travis who‘s worked in hospitality his whole life, started a business of his own here in New York–a restaurant and speakeasy called Pineapple Club. He was waiting ages for his business license to get approved in order to officially open. The bar was issued its liquor license in the middle of March and permitted to serve alcohol 2 days after the city announced full lockdown. A childhood friend of mine, Zyad who is a medic in Chicago, works in a community that is running low on supplies and has no choice but to put on the same one-time use mask on to help heal patients. A nurse that works alongside him was just diagnosed with COVID-19 and is now in ICU on a ventilator.
“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”
Now is one of those times where it seems like the entire world is crashing down around us. All of us are being forced to acknowledge that we have lost the ability to control our external reality. But no one can take from us the choice to control our inner reality and the way we respond to these feelings of fear, anxiety and worry that are naturally going to bubble up. So what can we do to control the influence this has on our inner reality? The biggest factor is how we answer a very simple question.
Are we choosing Fear or Faith?
But to make that choice we must first understand Faith:
Faith is like a hand that stretches out to us in the moments we need it most. It’s not something we can rationalize. It doesn’t make sense because it is by definition an acknowledgment of our cognitive limitations. It is the humblest of choices, and yet the one that requires the most strength, patience, and courage.
Because to choose faith often demands that we leave our ego at the door. The ego that says: I am in charge. I am in control. I understand everything that’s happening. I want to know when this will end because I thrive off of certainty. To choose faith is to surrender your identification with your mind—even if momentarily. Anytime we are in the unknown, the brain and mind want to know what’s going on, it wants to be in control, it wants to get its arms around it. It wants to know exactly how things are going to turn out. Because we are simply in the unknown, with no endpoint, we naturally will experience anxiety, fear, and worry.
These thoughts haunt us when we’re ending our day binging on Netflix. These thoughts wake us up in the middle of the night and permeate everything around us. It’s like there’s a dark cloud that comes and goes.
But, If we can name the experience, the feeling that’s going on, the feeling will no longer have the power to own us.
When most of us were kids, we might have heard a story of Rumple Stilskin. He was an ogur who lived under a branch and was the jerk. As long as the other characters didn’t know his name, he remained a mystery and he could haunt them. But, when they finally figured out his name, the game was up.
It’s the same with our feelings. If we have a feeling that is bothering us and we can’t go in, land on it and ask what is this? Then it starts to come up everywhere and we start to carry it with us wherever we walk and it just seems to bubble up over and again. This also makes it extremely difficult to ask for support because you don’t even know what to say.
What we need to do is discover our major concerns, get underneath them and point our finger on the experience wrapped around them ie., is this fear, grief, anger, anxiety, or sadness.
What’s actually happening when we feel the anxiety?
When our fears arise from the back brain (fight, fight or freeze mode), it then triggers the mid brain (emotional part) and starts to project scenarios of what could happen. Anytime we give ourselves permission to stay in that space, what we do is create a ton of anxiety for ourselves and a constellation of energy that does not serve, support, or even speak to who we really are.
We are not going to be perfect and we are not required to be perfect. We have permission to grieve our losses, to make choices again and again that bring us back to center but we also have permission to fall apart and ask for support from those around us. Wherever we are in the midst of this, we are all being challenged to adapt and walk a path of unknown territory.
How we can all be of service.
This is asking something of all of us that requires to remain connected to one another, to reach out to those who are suffering and most of all to be and share the loving light that lies within each and everyone of us.
For some of us this means calling our parents to reassure them we are safe and healthy, for some it means to ask for support when we get in our heads and lose all perspective we need to stay healthy. For others it means to be that helping hand that’s stretching out to others as a source of faith to those who need it most.
““This shit has been hard both physically and mentally, so it feels good to hear a friendly voice once in a while.”
What can we do to stress less?
Imagine that we’re already on the other side of this, that we all pulled together, that we flattened the curve and incrementally did whatever it took to keep ourselves moving forward when the whole world was at a standstill. We need to bring ourselves their today because it will be over and when it is, we’ll look back on it. When we look back on it, the question will be: Did I bring my whole self? Did I bring the loving, courageous hero that I am. If we strive to be our finest and best, each day will get a little better and easier to manage during this time.
Don’t give in to the gossip.
People are spreading the virus of fear more insidiously than any airborne pathogen could spread. All with a sense of righteousness..
Whatever happens, how we see it and the choices we make are ultimately up to us. I’m not necessarily optimistic by nature, but I remain optimistic about this pandemic, because I have faith in people.
Yes, there will be losses. My heart bleeds for those affected. But I believe we’ll figure this out, and be better for it.
During this time I encourage everyone to keep your spirits high, as much as you’re keeping your hands clean. Not only will this allow you to think clearer and enjoy yourself more, it will also have an affect on your immune system.
We are all being called to rise.
In the bleakest darkness there is always the choice for faith. No matter how unlikely it may seem, there is always the belief that it is going to be okay. That’s the choice I am making right now and encourage you to do the same. I don’t know what the future holds, but I have faith that we are going to come out better on the other side of this. Don’t ask me why, or ask me how…It’s faith. If I knew the answer to either of those questions it would not be faith, it would be a hypothesis based on evidence.
After being asked whether or not William believed in free will. His reply was “whether or not there is free will doesn’t matter. My life is better if I believe there is.”
Our life will be better if we choose faith. That doesn’t mean we can’t prepare for the worst. But we can prepare and heal even better with the smile of faith than with the depression of fear.
In good health,