LIFE, WHERE THERE'S DISRUPTION, THERE'S EVOLUTION
Updated: Jun 16, 2020
I first posted this image to Instagram more than 2 years ago, and it could not be more relevant to our current pandemic. When our lives become uncertain, we tend to think more existentially and ask bigger questions such as: what is the meaning of all of this, and what is my purpose etc… This is not a bad thing. When our status quo is disrupted, we have the opportunity to make meaning of our lives by addressing dormant anxieties or issues that we have not yet faced in our adult lives. Do not be afraid of this. The body naturally responds to this process with some stress hormones that can present themselves as anxiety or stress, but there is also the opportunity to transfer this energy into self affirming energy. You can do this by identifying the tendency to worry or focus on the negative, and engage your brain by directing it to think about other perspectives and other ways you might want to respond to yourself differently.
So often our opportunities for growth and evolution intersect with our feelings of insecurity, avoidance and fear/anxiety. The problem here is that we live in a society that promotes the false belief that growth and evolution happen when you ‘arrive’ - be that by acquiring money, status, or some form of power and control. This false belief promotes a false expectation that when you are succeeding you are feeling satisfied and a host of other positive emotions. Perhaps this pandemic is shaking this assumption up, and flipping it on its head.
The problem with this expectation is that it pushes us, as individuals, in the wrong direction when it comes to evolution and real change. The REAL opportunities for change often present themselves in the emotional forms of discomfort and insecurity. Because of the false beliefs and expectations around success, we miss these opportunities. Instead of exploring our feelings of insecurity and discomfort, we avoid them and run from them. We do that because we are led to believe that there is something wrong with us for feeling them. After all, if we only grow when things are “good” then when things are “bad” it serves as confirmation that we are not growing or evolving.
Well guess what, I am here to tell you that this is all BS. Let's blow this thing up and reconstruct the narrative here. Life is difficult. The times when it’s really difficult are opportunities for us to realign, re-calibrate and get to know ourselves better. Resulting in new opportunities and better outcomes. But just as the seas are calm after the storm, so is our growth and evolution. When the storm hits and we are uprooted and in flux, we adjust, and change. When we make the most meaning of these times, we successfully grow and evolve. Leading to real lasting change, like a calm after the storm.
When we can reframe our down times as opportunities for exploration rather than doing what is more defensive or tempting: such as reaching for the forbidden fruit of negative catastrophic thinking that leaves us feeling terrible about ourselves. This level of self actualized thinking is of course not available to everyone in a crisis. If you have not yet done so - please first read my article and complete the worksheet for managing coronavirus anxiety here, and financial crisis here. This will set you up for completing the handout in this article. Once you are in control of your thoughts and better balanced in your negative/positive thinking, you can then move forward with reframing your downtime by exploring yourself more mindfully.
When we open ourselves up to new outlets for self exploration we start to shift our perspective, which shifts our emotional state and thus our behavior. This does not negate the validity of the difficult time you are in, but it does offer a new perspective that can unleash a new sense of hope and a slew of new ideas that can propel you forward. Follow these prompts to give this a try:
Disclaimer: If the coronavirus has escalated to crisis level in your home and in your life (access to food, shelter, healthcare, income etc), then this article is not meant for you at this stage of the pandemic. Please be sure to review my articles on coronavirus anxiety and also coronavirus financial crisis first as these might better meet your current needs at this stage of the ‘hierarchy of need.’