I wake up thinking about the world a lot. For many of us, COVID-19 will define 2020, like 9/11 did for 2001. An event that replaces our view of the world. Leaving us to navigate uncharted waters. Asking ourselves, what does the future hold? In times of uncertainty, several mindsets can help you move forward through your fear and change. And, lord knows we are going to need to develop these mindsets, in this changing world.
Mindset 1: Challenge Your Fear
There is a persistent hum of energy that sits below the surface of almost every conversation. If it’s not outright fear of the novel virus itself, it’s the fear of the world being changed, or the economy, or my job, or [insert yours here]. It can paralyze a person. Laser focus us on the fear, rather than focus on the next step. Learning to challenge this primal emotion is required for living.
Fear isn’t a bad thing; we need it to survive. It’s, in fact, normal to dislike uncertainty. The concern arrives when fear becomes the overarching driver of your life. When it leads to overloads of anxiety, that leach into depression.
Learning to challenge your fear is necessary to function. Finding ways to push through and kickstart your logic centers is needed. That starts with a combo of breathing and shifting your narrative.
Mindset 2: Breathe is Life
It’s a challenge to breathe through fear. Fear, by its very nature, takes our breath away. Yet, the first step to challenging fear is to find a way to breathe. To breathe through any fear, all fear, this fear, we need to draw on the mindset that breath is fundamental to life.
When you notice the kinetic feeling of anxiety or worry, pause. Take a time-out, put yourself in a quiet corner if you need to, but press pause on your reactions and responses. Place a hand over your heart or on your belly and slow your breath. Count out a 4/8 rhythm, count of 4 breathe in, count of 8 breathe out. Rinse. Wash. Repeat.
Practice this 2 minutes 10 times a day. Stop and practice when you aren’t in a mental meltdown, to build the muscle. The more you practice, the more effective you will be when the fear rolls through next time. Your breath will give you the ability to navigate the moment and then to take the next step forward.
Mindset 3: My Thoughts are Mine
Learning to step out of the swirl of thoughts that ignite fear takes practice. What is clear to me right now, most of us have a whirlwind of thoughts whipping through our heads. The narrative of fear is available at every turn. It doesn’t necessarily show up as “I am so scared…” Most of the time, it is a persistent low-level nagging in the corner of your mind. Ooop there it is.
It is essential to acknowledge your fears, they are real and valid. It is also crucial to shift out of the swirl.
Challenging your fear comes from challenging the thoughts that are activating your alarm. This requires you to slow down and listen to the narrative that is running in quiet harmony inside your mind. Notice what words your narrative is using. And give yourself permission to push back. Challenge those narratives that are not useful.
Dr. Amen author of, Change Your Brain – Change Your Life, wrote about these 2 questions. I find that they can help you throttle back your thoughts.
- Do I know this to be 100% true?
- What do I know that challenges these thoughts?
There is a difference between fear of the real and the imagined. And, this gets wonky when the two types overlap, as they do in a crisis. Sifting through the fear of my life, my family will likely be impacted (real fear), and this will never get better (imagined fear) is needed. Breathing can allow you time to discern between the two so that you can challenge and change your thinking. Make the unconscious conscious, so you can choose the thoughts best suited to your situation.
We don’t know what the future holds. To my knowledge, no one has an actual crystal ball. What we make of this crisis and how we move forward will determine the future we create.
In every situation, regardless of how hard or pandemic it is, there is both negative and positive. Both live in tension with each other in every situation. And we have been here before. This really isn’t our first rodeo with a massive crisis, it may take the cake in your lifetime, but humans have a unique capacity for muddling through, often quite creatively. Cultivate these 3 mindsets so that you can creatively move through fear and all the other emotions that bubble up. If you want it, you got this!
I would LOVE to hear from YOU!
- What breath meditation do you practice?
- How do you shift your locus of control?
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