The Opportunity of the Coronavirus

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 the 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 haven’t been in focus before. Either Brooke Castillo or James Wedmore who said the coronavirus makes you more of who you are. I see it as highlighting our strengths and our weaknesses. It is bringing into focus the positive pieces of our beings and also highlighting our opportunities for growth. 

I will share myself as a personal case study, though lets keep this between us since I’m still working it out and vulnerability is present. For me, the coronavirus is highlighting my strength of innate optimism and my ability to see  the good in things. That said, the coronavirus has also highlighted my discomfort at not being able to control how others think and or what others do. I get intensely frustrated when people don’t do what I think they should do (and yes, I’m chuckling even as I write that because of course they don’t!) Yet, over the last couple of weeks, I’ve found myself arguing in my head with how certain government officials were speaking of COVID19 and feeling quite distraught and frustrated with the anxiety provoking messages that were being released to the public. I wanted them to say things my way and to make the decisions I would. Good wake up call for Susie and an opportunity to learn more about myself and why I’m so triggered.

Press Pause

Today, I am here to encourage you to see this time for the pause button it presents itself to be. I believe that we all have free will over our life 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, finally, paid attention. 

Right now, it appears the universe has landed the equivalent of a meteor on human kind. Apparently, we’ve been collectively ignoring the pebbles, rocks and boulders. Now, it is our time to ponder individually and collectively, how have we 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, over working, opioids, antidepressants, busyness, etc…

Some of us will continue to hide but I imagine that if you’re reading, 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 2 steps for you to dig into:

What is the Virus Highlighting for You?

I encourage you to schedule 5-10 minutes to reflect on which 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. Apparently 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 groundhog day movie. I made some choices at age 24 and didn’t re-investigate those choices until over 10 years later. I kept going around my hamster wheel of life, 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? 

Before moving further into reflection, I want to stop to highlight the importance of observing yourself from a kind and curious place. To not judge ourselves. To witness yourself and how you’re living your life as if you are a friend giving feedback versus your worst critic. 

The more we can kindly observe ourselves with the question in our head: “what can I learn about myself?” the more opportunity we will have for growth. 

For example, going back to me as the test case, when I noticed my desire to control how others are reacting to this disease, I did so kindly and with empathy for myself. I could see that my desire was coming from a wish to reduce suffering in others: For example, I had the thought that if the governor had made a certain announcement differently, it wouldn’t have created the panic and overwhelm that it did.

When I can witness myself from a place of kindness, I open myself up to growth and expansion. Versus, if I thought: “Oh susie, you’re so judgmental. You think your way is the right way” that doesn’t leave me much room for growth and learning. Instead I feel deflated and poorly about myself. Result? Wallowing instead of evolving.

The Thought Model

Warriors, it always goes back to the thought modelThe think, feel, act, result loop:

THOUGHT: “I wonder what I can learn from me feeling triggered”
FEEL: Curious
ACTION: I take action to journal or reflect
RESULT:  I learn from my actions. (The result always reinforces the original thought)

Versus, this thought model:

THOUGHT: “I am so judgemental”
FEEL: Discouraged
ACTION: I don’t take proactive action (I either do nothing (shove that feeling under the rug and keep going or react by distracting myself with a facebook or instagram app or some food).
RESULT: I feel worse about myself and nothing has changed. 

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 some self observation and reflection. I invite you to open your mind up to investigate how you’ve felt these last several weeks, the good, the bad, and the ugly as they say: Drop the judgement so that we 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?
What is this virus highlighting for you? 
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 you?
Are you looking to create structure in your days?
Are you struggling with goal setting and focus? 
When you have down time, does your brain look for things to worry about? How easy is it for you to relax? 
How easy or hard is it for you to set up a schedule for yourself? 
Do you keep your word to yourself? 
What are the things that you are thinking about that are 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. There’s no need to rush this. We have time. 

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 from a place of it as a short coming, 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 and how do I know that? 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 for 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 days?
Where can I show up a bit better for myself and my community today?
How about tomorrow?

How Do You Want to Look Back at 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, even other people to manage our emotions. It is encouraging us to slow down so as, 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 in?

How do you want to look back at this time and how you showed up? It’s a question I’m kindly asking myself every day.

I’ve decided to continue to offer my online conscious cleanse for 1/2 off (use code PEACE). Many of you have already taken advantage of this great offer and are reporting greater clarity with your life and the areas where you have an opportunity to grow. If you haven’t done it yet, now is the time. Each day we look at a different area of your life and , in a kind and thoughtful way, to see where the opportunity for growth is. Why not grab a friend and move through it virutally. As I said in the beginning you don’t know, what you don’t know. I’d love to help you.

Lets go warriors.
This is our time. We have the tools. We have the training.
Game on.