11 Apr The Big Pause: Living Again During The Pandemic
I wake up every day and for just a moment my mind forgets what is happening in this world. And then it hits me: our current reality. If you had told me a month ago, our entire world faces a pandemic that is growing and worsening, I would have thought you were crazy.
While many of us are settling into this ‘new normal’ our minds are still thinking. “I can’t believe this is happening!” Sure, we’ve adapted. We’re coping. We’ve figured out how to live 24/7 in our homes sort of. But life … feels sort of like its on pause.
And we’re reminded of the pause all of the time. We can’t visit our friends. Go the movies. Go to school. We can’t really do anything other than stay at home save a walk around the neighborhood.
Instead, there is the 24-7 at home. There is the news. There is social distancing and masks. There are constant reminders you can’t really plan the future. You are stuck with the ‘here and now’ and it’s not a pretty sight. It’s not life.
When I think life’s on pause, that is when I feel the tension, the stress, and the drain.
We can’t stop this reality. But we can find a way to live in it without feeling like we’re on pause. I’m not talking about accepting what is happening. But I am talking about getting back to living again.
Why we feel on pause
So much of our stress lies within one truth: we don’t know when this will end and until then we can’t live our lives as we normally would.
We don’t know the future of this pandemic. We don’t know our financial futures. We don’t know the future of our treasured relationships. We don’t know if we can help our children heal from the impacts of this pandemic. We don’t know when we will see loved ones again. We don’t know when or if we can feel secure again. We don’t know if we’re going to be OK.
Not knowing the future can cause a great deal of stress and anxiety. But it can be worse to feel you can’t do what you really want to do.
Plus, it has been hard to put our lives on hold. We had spring breaks planned. We had vacations. We had gatherings. We had people to see, places to go, things to do. And that is all now evaporated. At least for now.
Usually, we are busy. We’re on the go. We are totally free to take action to create positive change.
But this time is different. This time we can’t just do what we want to do. We can’t move forward as we normally would. And we can’t fix this pandemic.
The art of letting go: 3 simple steps
Stress usually arrives when we don’t know the future and when we can’t control our lives. If you are feeling tension or even drained by your days, this is why. This is our fight with reality.
To lessen the stress and tension, we want to walk right up to reality and tell it, “I’m not gonna argue with you any more reality. “I’m done. I’m gonna let go.”
“When you argue with reality you lose, but only 100 percent of the time.”Byron Katie
The art of letting go means giving up that fight with reality. It’s about moving ahead in a new way. It is about:
- Releasing control and your attachment to a specific outcome.
- Focusing on choices to do what brings you energy.
- Trusting the future unfold as needs to.
But here is an important point! It is not about giving up or settling. It’s not even about coping.
Step 1: Notice your struggle with reality
When you are fighting with reality, your very first step is to notice the specific struggle and without judgment. What is the struggle all about?
“Hey, you know what reality? I’m really unhappy with not being connected to my friends”
“I truly despise this new normal routine. It drains me.”
“I’m really worried about my financial future.”
“I’m truly angry with this leader who isn’t doing enough.”
“I’m not enjoying my job right now and I’m drained.”
What precisely is your struggle? While noticing, don’t judge yourself or the situation. Just observe.
Instead of trying to fix something that we can’t or grasping for an outcome that is not within our control, we can practice the art of letting go.
Step 2: Notice what is within your control.
Now, now take a moment to observe all of what is in your control and what brings you energy?
All around you, you have choices – choices which will bring you a little bit or even a lot of energy They are things you enjoy. Things you love. Things that fill you up.
“I could take care of myself better right now by exercising more regularly.”
“I could take a little time out to work on that project that I really enjoy.”
“I can choose to practice kindness and think about how to give to others.”
“I could call that friend I haven’t talked with for so long.”
“I could take a little time to read that book I really enjoy.”
You can’t control the pandemic. But the pandemic hasn’t erased all of your choices.
Step 3: Focus on what right in front of you now & let go of the rest
In this final step, you want to focus now on what is right in front of you. Think about just what you can do today. Not tomorrow. Not next week.
What could you do today that would bring a smile to your face? What choices would leave you feeling alive again?
Look at your possible choices. Which of those will bring you the most energy?
How will you spend today? Not tomorrow. Not next week. But today.
What small step can you take to bring a little light into your life? What small step can you take to move you forward on a project? What small step can you take to nurture a relationship?
As you focus on the here and now, you will let go of needing to know the future. You will let go of what you can’t control right now.
By focusing only on the day in front of you and the choices you have, you will release your grip those things which you can’t control and what you don’t know. Leave that all behind.
When we hope for a certain future we can’t have, we can’t live in the present. When we grasp for what can’t be, we fail to see the choices we have.