Most humans are not super comfortable with uncertainty and right now we are all swimming in a sea of it. From the direct health scare, to concern about loved ones, to the economic tsunami, to completely upended social norms and daily routines, we are in a period of massive and rapid change and nobody knows how it is all going to turn out.
This massive level of uncertainty can be very stressful. When my life blew to pieces five and a half years ago my stress levels were so high I could barely breathe. It was so visceral I felt hunted — at the very least chewing myself up from the inside out. Something in me knew that my survival depended upon figuring out how regain some calm, some inner peace even while my outer life was in terrible disarray and upheaval and so I embarked on an all out journey to figure it out.
I want to assure you it absolutely is possible to learn to disconnect your inner state of being from the events swirling through your life. It absolutely is possible to manage and even release fear. It is possible to learn to expand into, rather than contract from, uncertainty.
Here are a couple POWER TIPS:
- Clean up your Mental Hygiene. If you do not have any form of a meditation practice start yesterday! Seriously, the fact that I had at least a bit of a morning meditation practice onboard is one of the things that literally saved my life five years ago. It can start with just a moment or two of stilling your racing, flailing mind.
Here is an excerpt from the chapter on fear management in my book, When Life Blows Up: A Guide to Peace, Power and Reinvention.
Learn the art of “Presencing”, of practicing being in the Present Moment
The simple fact is that unless we train ourselves differently, most of us spend the bulk of our lives focused on the past or the future, often in fear. If you’re reading this book you’re likely dealing with some difficult, even traumatic situation right now. There are probably a lot of unknowns, worry, angst. But ask yourself this, right now in this very moment, are you basically OK? Are you right now, under direct attack? In this very moment are you warm? Do you have shelter and food? Are you breathing? If you have time to read this sentence your answer is almost certainly yes!
To become present, look around you right now wherever you are. Notice the sights. Take a deep breath through your nose and notice the scents. Listen to the many sounds and the little silences between them. Feel the chair beneath you, supporting you. Focus on the breath gently moving in and out of your body. Feel the rhythm of your beating heart. Run your right hand gently across the top of your left. Notice. Breathe. Say aloud, “I Am here. I Am here. I Am here.”
Let your body release its tensions – loosen the jaw, drop shoulders. Underneath all the noises and sounds feel the deep stillness of the earth and sea. Breathe. Deeply. Look around and feel this moment in time. Release and relax.
Developing a presencing practice takes exactly that — practice. The more times each and every day you bring your focus back to the present moment, even for just a second or two, the calmer and less stressed you will be. Not only will this help you navigate trauma more easily, it will add all sorts of additional beauty and richness to the good times. ……
This very moment, this instant of now, is really the only thing we can control. The state of consciousness we choose in this moment sets the stage for what happens next. In the now we can choose the feeling we want to experience. That’s right — you do not have to be at the mercy of your emotions. You have a choice in how you feel and you can learn to wield this power with skill and consistency, even when facing extraordinary challenges. …. I talk more about meditation and the mind in later chapters.
Choose your lens carefully. Right now a lot of us are facing big challenges and big changes beyond our control. We might not be in control of the events but we always have control of how we choose to view and respond to those events. Reframing how we choose to view a challenging situation helps us reclaim some power and open up to possible solutions we might not see otherwise.
Here’s one more excerpt from my book that I find to be immensely helpful.
The Choose Again Exercise:
A Course in Miracles is a mind-bending spiritual approach to psychotherapy. One of the things I most appreciate about it is that it is both deeply, sometimes even disturbingly profound and at the same time very practical. One of the tremendously useful practical techniques it recommends is to “Choose Again.” This is a simple practice that will profoundly change your life.
It goes like this…
Each time you find yourself fixated on fear of something beyond your control, or each time you find yourself obsessing about what someone did to you, or find yourself thinking negative thoughts about yourself, you simply notice it, say “choose again” and think about something else, almost anything else.
Some days I had to do that five hundred times when obsessing over a particularly consuming or uncomfortable repetitive thought and sometimes the only positive thing I could think to focus on was the birdsong outside, the big dog beside me on the couch, John’s latest sweet little note of love and encouragement. Anything positive. It was work and it took commitment but eventually it always did the trick. As my thinking shifted, my lens adjusted, and my life improved.
Angry at your criticizer? Choose again. Resentful of your spouse? Choose again. Terrified about the “what ifs?” Choose again. Replaying the ugly scene over and again in your head? Choose again. This simple but profound tool helps put us in the drivers seat of our own mind and helps us become aware of thoughts that are causing unpleasant feelings.
Reframing works for really big catastrophic life events and also for everyday little things. …. We may not be able to choose the events that roll through our lives but we have enormous power over how those events affect our lives.
These are unprecedented times and a lot of people are hurting and scrambling. I just want to leave you with this thought: though we don’t usually like change and uncertainty, the truth is every moment of life is uncertain and the only real certainty is change. We navigate change all the time, often without even thinking much about it. There is every reason to believe you can navigate this one in a more peaceful and empowered way.
I never could have seen coming that my book titled, When Life Blows Up would be published just weeks before all of our lives blew up with COVID-19. It has a lot of useful information for people in the midst of big life upheaval and so I’ve dropped the price down so that more folks can get it. I so hope it brings some comfort and useful strategies for you to not only survive but thrive through these unprecedented times.
P.S. To schedule a free Transition and Reinvention breakthrough coaching session click here.