We have been sheltering in place for over a month and while at first it was nice to get the rest, focus on friends and nature walks, have extra time to catch up on neglected projects, and reduce work hours, enough is enough. Our closets have been cleaned out, the puzzles completed, yards raked and mulched, trails hiked and books read. We are ready to return to our normal lives.
Not just yet, I’m afraid.
The pandemic continues to grow and the curve of fatalities and those infected with Covid-19 is still rising in many locations. We are not even close to getting the situation under control and returning to life in any safe fashion seems months away at best. We need to stay strong and dig deep, and despite the mental and emotional challenges that most of us are facing, we still need to stay home in order to save lives.
I am a proponent of positive thinking. I believe that our thoughts create reality and as Shakespeare so eloquently put it in his play Hamlet, “ There is neither good nor bad but thinking makes it so.” I work regularly to direct my mind towards the good, while keeping negativity and fear at bay. In the case of the current pandemic, I believe there are blessings and hardships and where we place our focus will not only affect our approach but also the outcome.
Easier said than done.
There are days when I feel sad, defeated, and fearful. In an article published in the Harvard Business Review (March 23, 2020), Scott Berinato states that part of what we are feeling is grief. There is the “loss of normalcy; the fear of economic toll; the loss of connection,” not to mention the collective grief we are facing due to the staggering death toll that surrounds us daily.
Berinato believes we are also suffering from anticipatory grief which is “that feeling we get about what the future holds when we’re uncertain.” He offers us some ways to manage the grief such as “finding balance in the things we’re thinking, coming into the present, letting go of what we can’t control, and stocking up on compassion.”
Feeling grief is normal and we need to allow time and space to honor it. However, sometimes it is hard to pick ourselves up and get back on the positivity track, especially now as we are faced with growing and sustained challenges.
One way to shift our focus is to put our energies into dreaming and creating visions of what we’d like our lives to be when this is all over (or at least over enough that we are able to go back into the world). If we could have anything we want, what would it look like?
Pam Grout has a weekly blog and offers a course in Manifesting Magic and Miracles (which I had the great fortune of attending at the Omega Institute in New York several years ago and which literally changed my life). In the course, Pam encourages us to explore what it is we really want and then gives us techniques for manifesting it. Her book, E-Squared, offers several real life experiments which she asks the reader to try as a way to experience how it all works.
Pam’s Website: https://pamgrout.com/
In addition to Pam Grout, I recently stumbled upon Mike Dooley, whose book, Playing the Matrix, outlines a method for achieving all that we could dream of or imagine for our lives. He compares the process to a GPS system whereby you put in the vision or end result as the destination and then shift the car into gear. As you begin to drive (taking steps no matter how small or uncertain), you will be guided down the pathways and roads that will best lead you to your goal. Dooley emphasizes that we should keep our focus on the end point and not get caught up in the details of the journey. He says we should be open to changing course along the way and not get stuck on the “hows.”
I would like to propose that on days we are feeling down or stuck or shut in or hopeless, we get out a piece of paper and begin planning our future. I suggest we make it as outrageously fantastic as our imaginations will allow. We can add pictures or drawings or whatever it takes to add inspiration and joy. We should dream big and begin to move in some direction, any direction, while keeping the end vision in mind. We don’t need to understand how we will get there, we just need to believe that we will.