I have hesitated to share this or any blog posts during this time because it requires me to be more vulnerable than I have felt capable of recently. I share this with you today with the hope that someone – anyone – can find inspiration and a new way to look at their world. If you are suffering and need someone to talk to, please know that I am here for you.
Starting March 16th for me…I became “not OK”. The COVID-19 situation turned our world upside down and forced us all to make drastic changes to save lives. Staying at home and social distancing was and is the right thing to do. So why does it hurt so bad?
We are all different and have a very different way of dealing with this pandemic. Some people are truly enjoying the solitude while others are struggling with cabin fever. Some are using the time to become grounded, doing house projects that are long overdue, or even personal and professional growth activities. Some are filling the time with binge watching TV, video chats and reading, while others are learning new recipes, crafting or getting a lot of sleep. But some – like me – are deep in despair, feeling isolated, alone and suffering from low energy and very little motivation.
I am a people person and an extrovert. My energy comes from interaction with others. My heart desires relationship and my sense of purpose and satisfaction comes from connections with the people around me. Outside of the daily dog walks and the once a week trip to the grocery store, my live interaction with human beings is virtually non-existent.
I am not OK with this. And I know many people are suffering in the same way.
The timing for this pandemic to end is unknown and will create a “new normal” that we have never experienced before. I can continue to sit in this place of low-level energy and feel sorry for myself, feel isolated and alone, and can continue to try to find peace with coping mechanisms – but our world is not changing any time soon and I am not OK with not being OK.
So how do I get OK with this?
In cognitive behavioral therapy, we know that thoughts connect to emotions connect to actions. One powerful way to create change in our lives is to really understand the thoughts, feelings and actions of where we are now so that we can dig into how to change it.
Current thought: I am not OK with this
Current feeling: I feel lonely and apathetic
Current action: Choosing unhealthy coping mechanisms (e.g. watching too much TV, eating unhealthy food and drinking wine most nights)
For me to shift this, let’s consider what my desired future thoughts, feelings and actions could be:
Desired future thought: I accept this situation – I am OK
Desired future feeling: I feel motivated to make the most of each day – one day at a time
Desired future action: Embrace my normal routine integrating working out, professional development, and home activities into my daily life again
But moving from current state to desired future state isn’t as simple as just flipping a switch. I can’t just say – OK, now I am OK. To do this, I need to really dig into the “why” behind my current situation, visualize the emotion of the future situation, and connect the dots together on what’s missing to get me from here to there.
For me, the big gap (or my why) of course is missing human interaction. I’ve compensated with video chats and phone calls, but that hasn’t been enough. My opportunity now, is to reframe my thinking of live human interaction to that of interaction and love for myself. To shift from lonely to alone to that of appreciation for the amazing person that I am and having the time and space to optimize who I am. This includes understanding that this time is temporary and to challenge myself to find energy in different sources, shifting the in-person need to connecting in other ways. It includes connecting with my inner-self in other ways. And to make this happen, I know that I need continual reminders that this current situation is an amazing opportunity for me to focus on self-love and grow in a way that time and priorities have never allowed me to before. By reminding myself of that – including affirmations, post-it’s around the house, scheduling time for myself to work out or read or run, etc – then I can shift my energy to an anabolic state and into a place where I can actually feel – and be OK again.
How do YOU get OK?
The story I shared with you is mine and what is working for me. Your story and your situation are yours, so I want to break this down to a few simple steps for you to reflect on to support shifting your energy into a more positive place.
What are your current thoughts, feelings and emotions? (Ask yourself why (several times) to truly understand what is behind them.)
What are your desired future thoughts, feelings and emotions? (Ask yourself what needs to shift to get you there.)
What is the very first step that you are willing to take to create this shift in you? (Ask yourself what type of support you need to implement this change and don’t be afraid to seek accountability from others. Note: breaking it down into small steps will help to create sustainable change.)
By reflecting, digging in deep and visualizing what you really want, you will be able to move from “not OK” to “OK” and maybe even to thriving too. These times are hard and we as a nation are grieving and having to change. It’s OK to not be OK – but when you are ready to get OK, consider this approach to creating a new way of feeling, thinking and behaving that will.
Should you feel the need to talk this out with someone, please take advantage of a free 30-minute session. It is my deepest hope that no one feels alone during this time and regardless of what you need by ways of support, know that WeInspireWe is here for you.