These are worrying times…but they will pass. How to have hope in times of uncertainty.
I sat in the barbers this morning, thankfully keeping a two-metre space from other customers. I wanted a 3 month haircut that would negate the need to visit the barber again until we had “flattened the curve” of this Virus infection. I think I succeeded in the haircut objective!
While waiting my turn I became aware that one of the other waiting customers was trying to suppress his coughing (and failing). I’m no medical expert but it did sound very much like the cough of a lifetime smoker and sure enough the man did get up to go outside to have his cigarette. Identifying that fact didn’t stop my chest from feeling a certain tightness, didn’t stop my heart from racing a bit faster and didn’t stop my thinking from going into overdrive; all my typical symptoms of anxiety and worry. The feelings passed quickly as my thoughts settled and moved onto the barbershop banter around panic buying of toilet paper. It did make me wonder though, what did we worry about before this latest worry?
“What did we worry about before this latest worry?”
It seems people have a natural pre-disposition to worry about things that might happen, or even about things that have already happened. We have a serious capacity for imagining a catastrophic future that never turns out as badly as we thought. I’m not for one minute saying that as a global community we will not suffer badly as a result of Covid-19; China and Italy and many other countries are experiencing significant deaths arising from the virus. However the worry and indeed the fear has not stopped the indomitable spirit present in all people from becoming manifest as witnessed by the many public acts such as the singing from balconies, rooftop aerobics, internet choirs and the countless numbers of community help groups springing up all over Facebook.
Yes, we have the scenes of panic buying and empty shelves that bear testimony to the actions that are driven out of worry and fear; testimony to the actions that follow when we really believe the thinking in our heads that causes the fear feelings in our bodies. But when we understand that the fear feelings are from our thoughts of what might happen. When we reflect on what we used to be afraid of before we had heard of Coronavirus AND the fact that those previous fears, those old thoughts are no longer upper most in our minds, we can provide ourselves with our own evidence that worry and fear are part of our thinking in the moment.
“What we fear can be very transient. When we understand that fear is driven by our thought in the moment it often leads to a quietening of that fear.”
They are part of our nature that is transient and fleeting when we recognise that our thoughts can change in any moment, can change in an instant and with that change in thought comes the change in feeling. This is part of our nature and our psychological make-up.
What is also part of our nature, but not always visible, is the innate capacity to do good; the innate connectedness with the rest of humanity and the wider universe. This connectedness and goodness is part of our make-up every bit as much as the link between our thinking in the moment and our feelings. Too often we believe that we really are our thinking and we believe that our thinking really is true and yet we see that our thinking can change, sometimes even in an instant and particularly when we get a new insight into how we really function at a deep psychological level.
“Connectedness and goodness are always part of our make-up, even if hidden by the fear of our scary thoughts.”
When we understand this fact about our innate connectedness and goodness, helped by noticing that one worry can replace another at the changing of our thoughts, we can have a quieter mind. We can begin to live more out of the place that produces so many of these random acts of kindness, a place where our creativity, resilience and love can be easily accessed.
A place of peace and calmness, that doesn’t deliver certainty, but that really helps us live more peacefully, lovingly and caringly through the uncertainties of these current times. Trust your own inner, connected wisdom, not the transient, scary thoughts in your head.