by Melanie Harvard – The Uncommon Coach
“I feel like I can’t breathe,” a good friend told me via Watsapp.
Her husband and kids are stuck at home with her, and she can’t find any space just to be alone.
Others are finding their families are going a bit cray-cray – instead of the happy, warm bunch of support they thought they would have, they have a bunch of trolls trundling out the worst in themselves and others.
I have read about a hundred posts of people saying they have no sex drive – what can they do?
The booze is running out, tempers are fraying, and what’s worse is this feeling of dread sitting in your chest like a lump of cold porridge. And you just can’t shake it.
So, let’s name the elephant in the room.
We are scared – this fear is with us night and day and has been ever since the first case of COVID on our shores.
We are worried about our health, and that of those we love, the economy, our jobs, some of us don’t know if we will have a home in a month. Some of us might have to move back in with our parents – the horror!
We are worried that loo rolls, chocolates, and broccoli will run out. Some of us are stuck in one room with six people – and some pap on the boil if we are lucky. Others are shivering in mass outdoor camps – where we have been forced to stay by the law.
Winter is coming, too.
Are you feeling better yet? Of course not. But you need to allow these feelings – they are real. Don’t try to control them, squash them down, avoid them, or pretend they aren’t there.
You probably won’t feel 100% – if you ever did – until you have more clarity on what the future might hold.
This is at the root of our fears – the great unknown . . . even Futurists are throwing up their hands in dismay. We can predict and imagine – but we just don’t know.
So, it makes it much harder to deal with the fear. And if you think we aren’t all feeling it, you are wrong – even my dog feels it. Every little kid will be feeling it – maybe even more so because they are picking up on adults’ emotions and so their source of security and survival is unstable. Logical, rational people, competent people, alcoholics, hobos, and your potplants will be feeling it.
What to do?
1. Don’t tap into the collective unconscious right now. People are having terrible dreams and the collective level of fear can be cut with a knife. Rather connect with yourself, your inner world, your own feelings and the clean pure energy of the earth and sky.
2. Keep off social media! Yes, I know you are bored. Do ANYTHING else. You are going to read yourself into an aneurism. Stay on study sites, read up on other topics or good news, or look at funny kitties. There is a ton of misinformation, doom, gloom, and nastiness abounding – reading it will make your day harder. Check the news once a day only.
3. Sit with the fear. Let it in, look at it, examine it, give it a cup of coffee and a chair in the corner. Don’t make best friends with it, though. Just acknowledge it is there, it has a right to be there, nod at it and then go about your day. It’s going to be a houseguest for a little while, but you don’t have to invite it to every meal. Yes, it doesn’t feel nice. But the more you lock it out the more it will pound on your door. Think of fear a bit like that ratty Aunt nobody likes but just puts up with at Christmas dinner.
4. Let go of ‘shoulds’. For some of us we minimize our fear through controlling our world as much as we can. So, when things are so out of control we really spin out. We try to force ourselves and those around us into little moulds, to regain a sense of security. STOP IT! You are going to have to accept that this situation is out of your control, and moreover, other people are not yours to control either. They need to find their own way to deal with this and it most definitely won’t be the same as yours. Unless you are trying to be Hitler, may I suggest you find an inanimate object – or hobby – you can control, and control the hell out of that? If you are like this – you will also find simple chores and routines will help soothe you. Again – get that this is YOUR thing, do not inflict it on the people in your home. You do you and let them do them.
5. A lot of friction and feelings will be coming up. We have been forced to sit with our thoughts and our loved ones for many days now. We can’t avoid some stuff that maybe we have been avoiding up until now. It may feel pretty horrible, and some bad things may be said. But look at it this way. This is stuff you probably haven’t been dealing with for a very long time. It is time to deal. Look at who you are being and what you are doing to make things worse, and rather than turning your attention on fixing others turn it inwards and onto yourself first. If you can figure out your triggers, your needs, your boundaries, fears and hopes – you are then in a much better position to communicate these to others. Working on yourself always results in life changes. While you are going through it there is pain, sure, but afterwards you will find a bunch of healing.
6. Give yourself and others some slack. This is not a normal time. If you want to walk around in a pyjama top eating popcorn at 2am – do it. If your wife wants to sleep at 10:30am let her. We all need to be allowed to cope in our own ways. Without unnecessary judgement making it even harder. Don’t force normal routines, or marital relations or anything else. Let it be, for now.
7. See this as an evolution – things are being shaken up before they settle back down. This is a great time to get real about who you are, what you want, what is important to you and so on.
8. Focus on your strengths. You may not know much, but you DO know what you are capable of. Spend some time really getting clear on what positive qualities you have, what abilities may be useful and so on. If everything is taken away from you – what have you got left? Focus on that stuff. It is what is in our hearts, minds and souls that are our true treasures and this is what makes us powerful and resilient.
9. Have a brainstorming risk analysis session. Draw four quadrants, on the x axis write low possibility at one end and high possibility at the other. On the y-axis write low risk on one end and high risk on the other. Think of every possible scenario you might face – up to and including that zombie apocalypse. Put each thought somewhere in the quadrant – depending on how likely it is and how bad it would be if it happened. You will have some things that would be super bad but very unlikely, and some which will be very likely etc.
Start with the very likely, high risk items. Make a plan for each. If this happens, then I will/can do that or that.
By really facing all the worries – and making plans for the worst ones – you will take a lot of the sting out of your fear. If you sit with it for a bit, you will realise that even if the worst happens, you will be able to make a plan of some sort. Change is scary, but you have the strength to handle it.
10. Bring your thoughts back to the good stuff every day. What you have right now. Who and what you are grateful for, today. Get some perspective and remind yourself that although right now is not perfect or ideal, you are ok, and it is ok in this moment.
I can highly recommend you throw some mindfulness and meditation somewhere into the daily mix. It really helps you take the edge off your fear.
Use this time to talk to your family, get to know them again, or more. Get to know yourself.
Relax into the unknown . . . prepare for the worst but hope for the best. Perhaps the worst isn’t quite as bad as you thought. Maybe if it happens, it will just be different?
Laugh as much as you can.
Remind yourself every day, several times a day of what your strengths are, and where you can show some kindness to yourself and your inmates.
In some time, not too far from now, you will look back at this. You will be in a new phase of life, with new joy, peace and happiness. Maybe in a new home or even a new country. Maybe with a new job or perhaps a new partner. And this will all be a fading memory.
For now, hold onto what you know – that you are strong, resilient and you WILL survive.
All rights reserved © Melanie Harvard – the uncommon coach TM