3 Ways to Make Sure We Come Out of Self-Isolation Better Than Just OK
There are so many hilarious meme’s right now that speak to the various ways we are all emotionally dealing with this crisis. The extremes range from letting ourselves completely go (chip crumbs in your bed and all) to being annoyingly positive and productive. I find myself somewhere in the middle. With a three-year-old at home, there are no twice a day workouts or leisurely sourdough bread-making sessions, but there are thirty minute workouts most days and messy cookie or brownie-making sessions on weekends (of course followed by eat-what-we-bake sessions).
I find myself fluctuating between more of a coping mode (what can I do right in this moment to make this feel better?) and a future-planning mode (what is my vision for the future beyond this time?).
Feel good now but also focus on the future
The truth is I think we all need a bit of both right now. We need to feel as good as we can in the moment, as good as we can today because our world has been turned upside down. We are a bit like a plastic bag blowing in the wind (I hate that I am referencing a Katy Perry song right now, but it works). Every day the news and everyone’s reactions to the news jerk our emotions this way and that. So hunkering down, and focusing on what feels good now is a good thing. We need to do what makes us feel good right now without the usual bs guilt that we indulge in when life is “normal” because it is now NOT normal. So let’s stop holding ourselves to the same rules that we would under our typical conditions.
But at the same time, we can’t live there 100% of the time. Because after a while, only focusing on what feels good in the moment gets boring and also, it just stops feeling that good. Think about when you go on holiday - after a couple of weeks of no schedule, indulging in food and wine and spending every moment with our family, we want to get back to life (this is assuming we already like our lives of course). We want to get back to our goals and dreams and routines. We want to get back to our vision for the future.
There is also a fine balance to maintain between what will make ourselves feel good right now and what will also support our future selves. One cookie? Feels good now and does little harm to our future self. Three cookies? Feels good now, maybe not the best thing for our future selves. Ten cookies, probably won’t feel so good now and definitely not good for our future selves. Finding this balance might be a bit of trial and error. But given what we’re going through, it’s a worthwhile exercise. We need to take care of ourselves now while remembering that we will emerge from this one day, and how do we want to feel then?
Tell yourself that no matter what, you will be ok.The thinking that always helps me find that balance is this: No matter what, I will be ok. This thinking works because it takes the pressure off. I don't have to imagine all the things that could go wrong, because I know that whatever it is, I will deal with it and will be ok. Even if the worst things happen, which chances are pretty low (if we are doing the right things), we can still be ok in the end, if we decide to be. That doesn’t mean we won’t have to navigate tough situations, or make hard decisions, or deal with very difficult emotions. But we can decide that regardless of what happens, we will still be ok.
No matter what, I will be ok.
I’ve personally been in situations where the thing that happened wasn’t even the worst that I had imagined. Were they heartbreaking and painful? Yes. Were they tragic? Yes. Yet in the end, I was still ok. That was mostly because I just decided to be and acted from there. I believe it is absolutely possible for this to be true for everyone.I know for some, this may come off as callous or insensitive, but it’s actually just the opposite. I’m saying this because I believe that you can be ok too. You can go through really hard things and be ok, and eventually even better than ok.
There is still so much we can control. It is the little decisions we make every day between now and then that determine whether we will be ok or not. It is the little choices we make all day long from the moment we open our eyes to the moment we close them that add up and lead us towards thriving vs just surviving.
“It isn't suffering that leads to hopelessness. It's suffering you think you can't control.” ― Angela Duckworth, Grit
We get to choose how to perceive thingsRecently my sister and I chatted about how we are framing this situation in our own minds to make it more tolerable. She feels better just accepting the fact that life may go on for months exactly as it is now. She feels that by accepting what the “experts” are saying is the most likely case, she can settle into this new normal, as uncomfortable as it may be.
I personally feel better thinking in two-week increments - let’s see where we are two weeks from now - either things could be slightly better, or I’ll be better equipped to deal with it then if it’s not. But I cannot bring myself to commit to the idea that it will be months of life as it is right now...because really who knows?In all those months and years when my late husband was sick we probably saw close to a hundred different doctors. All extremely well educated and experienced. They all made prognoses about how things would unfold. You know what? They weren't right more than half of the time. This is not to say we didn’t take their medical advice. But it did teach me to listen to the advice, but to take their predictions with a grain of salt. There are way too many complexities and factors that can’t be accounted for in every case. (Most of the doctors in my life will agree with this statement).
What I learned through that time is that the way we perceive a situation is 90% how we ultimately end up experiencing it. And it is 100% up to us to choose how we will perceive something. I’ve also learned that as long as we aren’t kidding ourselves, perceiving a situation in a way that suits us has zero negative consequences. In the case of my sister and I, we are still going to commit to the same behaviours - we will practice physical distancing, avoid going out, wash our hands, avoid touching our faces, eat reasonably well, take our vitamins, sleep well, get fresh air, exercise, etc. We will both do it all while each choosing to see this situation in a way that allows us to cope with it better. We get to choose!
If you take anything away from this article, let it be these three things:1. Find things that will make you feel good now, but won’t hold back your future self.
2. Tell yourself frequently, No matter what, I will be ok.
3. Remember that we get to choose how we perceive any situation regardless of the “facts”.
We are all faced with great opportunities brilliantly disguised as impossible situations. - Dr.Joe Dispenza
Stay well and be safe friends,
Read: A Covid-19 Emotional Survival Guide and How a Daily Practice Can Change Your Life