Today I’m reflecting on where I’m “supposed” to be right now. That was somewhere over the Atlantic on route back from a trip to England to visit family and in particular to see my sister who is suffering with cancer right now.
My youngest daughter is “supposed” to be at college. My other kids in turn would be in the Bahamas on a friend’s family boat for Spring Break, at work in New York City and beginning his shift at the restaurant.None of those things are happening right now or for some time to come I believe. The very good news is that we are all healthy and housed and fed.
What I have found from my own life and from working with my clients over the years is that the word “supposed” causes many of us a lot of anxiety – “I’m supposed to be married and living in a happy family”, I’m supposed to be financially stable”, “I’m supposed to be higher up the work ladder than I am right now.” – That one word holds us back from looking objectively at, living intentionally and loving the actual life that we actually have right now.
Loving the life that we are all experiencing now? Stuck in the house, not able to work in many cases. So many financial issues and loved ones to worry about. A pretty crazy concept, right? But when you consider the alternative of sitting in fear and uncertainty, it seems like it might be worth a try.
I have spoken to so many women- friends, facebook connections and clients- over the last couple of weeks and the overarching theme has been the fear from the uncertainty and lack of control that has come along with this virus to change everything we take as normal life and what we are “supposed” to be doing.
So yes, it is scary because you or your loved ones may get ill. So you do your best to stick to the guidelines. That is all you can do. Spiralling down into the what- ifs and horror scenarios will not change actual events. And yes, it is ok to feel these feelings. You are human. As long as you do not let them completely take over your life. A good way to get it all out there is to watch a good old fashioned weepy movie and sob your heart out. Just make sure the next Netflix selection is hilariously funny.
As you look around you RIGHT NOW there are things in your life to be grateful for. It doesn’t matter how small. This is what we do so much of without realizing that we do it. We make a decision about something, good or bad. Then we look for the evidence around us to prove ourselves correct. Decide this is all doom and gloom. Well you can definitely make a long list to support that theory. Decide you can find good around you. You may need to look a little harder at first, but the more you look, the more you will find. Make a list to remind yourself what these wonderful things are. The blue sky, your loving pet, the fact that you have an adequate supply of toilet paper. If you’re on your own, walk around the house and say out loud what you are grateful for right now. When you are able to notice the good, the bad is more in shadow.
I made a discovery pretty fast for myself this past week. It’s so easy to start to spiral into a day that suddenly turns from an early morning wakeup to a late evening bedtime in a blur of cable news and Netflix and the easiest thing to grab from the pantry. It will numb out your anxiety temporarily, but as you aren’t living and loving life, it will really only cause it to come rushing back worse eventually.
In order to combat that inertia it’s a great idea to schedule out your day. When you wake up in the morning you have a plan so that you don’t dread getting out of bed or worse still, stay there wondering what’s the point. The best way to do this is to make time blocks. Put them into your phone calendar or write them out and post up somewhere you will see them. Take time for meditation, exercise, writing, working, connecting virtually with people, cooking, learning a new hobby you’ve always wanted to try. Oh, and you probably shouldn’t forget showering and putting on pants. Whatever it is you need to do to make your day productive, spiritually and physically healthy -and fun. You probably have your own great ideas to add to the list.
“Be content with what you have; rejoice in the way things are. When you realize there is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to you” – Lao Tzu
There is no “supposed” to be for any of us. There’s what we think we should be doing, what might have happened, who you thought you were. Nothing is set in stone here. You have the chance to do, be and plan anything you want if you can let go of the other expectations. As we have all learned pretty fast, the only constant is change and that can come about pretty fast these days. So instead, focus on what is. This is the way that you are going to weather this whole crazy situation.