As the coronavirus continues to spread and have greater impact on every area of our life. The fear and anxiety of the virus may begin to turn to heighten uncertainty as to the future of our life as we’ve known it to be. For there are currently many unknowns with this virus. Medical and science expects speculate how long it may last, financial expects speculate the affects on both national and global economies, mental health experts advise on the mental and emotional affects the current and future changes can have on a person’s psyche and behavior.
Many of us struggle with change, especially a change we didn’t see coming, ask for or want. Instead of change, we resist, deny or avoid, or even blame others for the change. Change inherently creates uncertainty, a sense of loss of control, thus fear, anxiety anger, and in time depression.
We all are experiencing this unprecedented change and uncertainty. Our way of life has now changed, our sense of “normal” has changed. We are embarking now on unchartered territory, which often leads to a “new normal.” We are in the space between what has been and what will be. This is the space and place of fear, uncertainty, chaos and anxiety, perhaps even panic, leading to despair. Change equals stress, which often creates uncertainty. This all takes the mind places that often put us more in a state of helplessness & hopelessness.
Many of us now are experiencing change, grief and loss, and the stages that come with it.
Denial: Perhaps you have noticed in yourself or others, during these past several weeks: Being in this first stage or state of grief. The stage of denial: Hearing others say or you yourself, saying: “It’s not happening to me.” “This will blow over and will be fine when I wake up tomorrow.” So, I just go about my normal daily routine.
Anger: As life around me doesn’t seem so normal anymore and I realize within me, something has changed, but I don’t like it or want it. The next stage or state is to be angry. This is not fair or right, so I get defensive and reactive, for protection and survival. I resist the change and my fear and insecurities begin to show in the form of anger and/or defiance. I don’t want my life to change, but it has, and its your fault and you need to fix this and put things back to the way it was before, for my comfort is now uprooted, my safety and livelihood is threatened… I want My normal back and I want it back now, damn it!
Bargaining: As the days pass into weeks, we begin to realize our normal is now gone. I now turn to the part of me that begins to use the strategy of bargaining; for comfort, safety and sense of normal to return. If I do this, will you please do that. I’ll be good, I’ll change my ways, in this can you please let me go back to work or go on that vacation now, that I had to cancel. We begin to play let’s make a deal, with ourselves, with others and especially, with God, Creator, whatever name you give to that power greater than ourselves. We may even start to bargain with our dog or the walls in our room. Somebody, anybody to get us out of this difficult, disruptive or painful situation.
Depression: As I put all this energy and effort into getting my normal back, by the above three ego strategies and it doesn’t come to be. I begin to feel a sense of defeat and thus depression creeps in. I lose my sense of motivation, the voice and beliefs of our inner critic within us begins to give us messages of what a failure we are, how we deserve to be punished. We hear that loud obnoxious inner voice say things like: “See, I told you we don’t deserve happiness or good things.” “God and/or the world doesn’t love or care about us.” Our motivation and willingness to carry on begins to get depleted, we begin to give in and give up. We eat more or eat less, we just want to sleep it all away or we get very little sleep, because our mind is racing so much with worry and doom and gloom thoughts (what I call “stinking thinking”) that our energy and motivation level is defeated and drained.
Acceptance: Acceptance, like forgiveness, is one of the most difficult traits for us humans to come too. However, like forgiveness, it’s also one of the most powerful and liberating things we can do for ourselves. The first four stages of grief are more dis-empowering for us, because we are forcing life to be our way, rather than what it currently is. Resistance is based on ego, its fear and need for control. Our true power is not gained by force. True and authentic power and serenity, is gained through spiritual surrender, letting go and yielding to the power and wisdom greater than ourselves. What we Accept, and embrace-we Conquer and move forward from. What we resist will Persist. Acceptance is a sign of spiritual maturity. A sign of inner strength and knowing, trust–true faith, that the universe has our back.
Acceptance doesn’t mean we like or agree with what’s happened, it just means we choose to not let the situation define us or control our lives any more than need be. We choose to let go of “what was” so we can move on in life with “what is.” Expectations, needing things a certain (my) way, will create a disappointed mind and closed heart. Acceptance creates a free mind and open heart.
Acceptance transcends fear and denial, creating emotional and mental calm and inner peace. In addition, it widens one’s perception to see higher more constructive possibilities. Which helps us make healthier, more loving choices. Acceptance begins to transform fear, uncertainty and limits – to love, possibilities and freedom. With acceptance comes tolerance, resilience and confidence, to weather life’s difficulties and uncertainties.
There is an additional stage of grief that has been added to this common grief model.
Meaning: As we experience life in all its joyful and painful forms. We are forming beliefs and ultimately meanings to these experiences. These beliefs and the eventual meaning we put to life, is simply coming from the perspective and feeling of fear, thus pain or love, thus freedom.
It’s been said: Life is not meant to be easy; it’s meant to be meaningful. Acceptance leads us to the higher more loving and compassionate belief and meaning both toward ourselves, others and the experience. As we re-frame the meanings of our unfair or difficult experiences. Moving from the victim or fighter meaning of: “Why me”, “poor me”, “I hate myself” or “how could you do this to me, I hate you.” To the more loving and empowering meaning and mindset of “Why not me”, “what is this experience teaching me and asking me to do?” This re-framing and new meaning begin to help me see the experience from the higher-wiser, more loving perspective. I begin to realize and see that life experiences from my soul/higher view, are happening for me and through me, nothing really happens to me. Thus, I begin to move through the experience with more love, grace and ease. I see the lesson; the experience was offered to allow me to embrace traits and behaviors based on love. To make a more accepting, compassionate and forgiving choice for myself and/or others.
Our current experience with the coronavirus, is offering all of us, each in our own way, based on our individual and collective soul agreements, the opportunity to move through these stages of grief, with the intent of coming to a place of Acceptance and the higher-wiser, more loving meaning of our selves and how we live on earth. Be gentle with yourself and each other as you/we move through this time of uncertainty, yet tremendous opportunity to transform ourselves to be more loving, accepting and compassionate beings that walk upon the earth in harmony and grace with all that is.
I close with two more of my quotes. The level of uncertainty you can tolerate, will determine the quality of your life. Life like love, is just a word, until you give it a meaning. Be aware of the meaning you are putting to this current life altering experience. A new normal creates a shift individually and/or collectively, i.e. the whole of a society or in this current case a global shift, a shift in behaviors and lifestyle habits and a shift in economics.
Ask yourself, is the meaning and my behaviors (actions/reactions) I put to these current changes, coming from Love or Fear? Acceptance or Resistance? The choice is yours, for this is the planet of free will. One choice will help you move through this time of great change with grace, resilience and growth, the other choice will cause you more struggle and inner pain. We all are making the choice; such is the dynamic of change and human evolution of struggle and progress.
Here’s a Sufi quote which seems to fit for our current times. I’m adding a word to it. “When the heart (ego) weeps for what it has lost, the spirit rejoices for what it has found.” From chaos comes order, this is the nature of life. Breathe, stay present, connected and be well, David