It seems that everything is changing very quickly in ways we can’t quite understand, and in ways over which we have no control.
No one knows how this will play out exactly. We cannot control the virus, nor can we control fellow citizens. We need to take all the actions we believe will help, and we need to remain as steady as possible.
There is a way to feel the emotions called up by the very quickly changing landscape, pay attention to the response without judgment, and then take action from a whole state. There are intense and fluctuating emotions that come with this much change, instability, fear of loss, and very real loss.
I’m not talking about pushing the emotions aside and going numb. That never works. We feel what we feel, and it is best to let the emotions wash through you without callusing over. If you turn away from the reality of what is happening you, are in denial and then you are not a part of the solution.
Your community and your country needs you. Your loved ones need you to be responsive and whole. You need to show up emotionally for yourself as well. If you give too much, if you empty yourself out with no support from those around you, you will not be able to be a part of the solution.
Think about this. If we don’t feel the fear and the hurt, we won’t have sufficient motivation to put in the work that will be needed. This is hard. We need to feel discomfort or we won’t strive to help to the extent that is needed.
However, if we let the strong emotions push us around we can become shrill, stubborn, and offensive. Letting strong feelings constantly be in charge will cause us to burn out. If we are among people who are asking too much of us out of their fear and reactiveness, we need to draw boundaries for ourselves.
We can simply be present in the moment, sit and witness the emotions come up and, without judgment or fear, accept what is real here and now. We can consciously choose to take action based on compassion for the people who are potentially in danger, and consciously not focus on our powerlessness over all the other variables. We can say “no” when we need to step back.
People in danger need our help. Don’t give fear the airtime in your head. Be vigilant about the dangers, pass on the ego trips and the personalities.
The practices of mindfulness and meditation can get us steady as we consistently shift our focus to the present moment to do the next right thing. Our outward actions might seem exactly the same as someone who has their emotions twisted by the fear of the unknown. The difference will be that over time we will be able to sustain our work. We won’t callous over or go numb. We won’t burn out. We will stay steady inside.
This is a hard time. We are going to have to be able to be in it for the long haul. This is going to be a marathon not a sprint, a marathon that will be run on sand that will shift and change with virtually every step. Take care of yourself with gentleness so you can be nimble and surefooted during this trek.