Inviting Compassion Amidst COVID-19

March 24, 2020

Writing this, I find myself drawn to start this post with something unique, and not be just another post about COVID-19 ... yet, what's present for me right now IS how much COVID-19 has been taking over my thoughts, conversations, daily interactions (or lack thereof). So, here they are, some thoughts and reflections during this very surreal time. 

 

I have been reflecting on how change, transitions and unexpected events can seem to shake and flip our lives upside down. I work with clients a lot as they navigate transitions, and am reminded of the various stages of grief we might go through during any transition: shock, denial, anger, anxiety, overwhelm, sadness, bargaining, meaning making, acceptance (experienced in no particular order, or length, or intensity; it differs person by person). 

 

 

At the onset of the COVID-19 concerns, I found myself in denial, not really believing that this would impact my life. I had a trip to Mexico planned to celebrate my dear mum's milestone birthday, and as we debated and decided to cancel, I was angry, frustrated that this virus was getting in the way of our lives. As time progressed, and the gravity of the situation became more apparent, I found myself increasingly anxious and simultaneously helpless. I was taking the necessary precautions, especially in regards to my psychotherapy practice, but underneath I was waiting for life to ‘return to normal’. Now, it seems that our sense of "normal" might actually be shifting. This makes me angry, sad, worried, and also resigned (as I write this, I'm throwing my arms up in the air and shrugging my shoulders). I find that I am holding both a sense of this feeling unreal, and also trying to remain present, while inviting an intention to transform alongside it. In mindfulness, we learn to "ride this wave" of chaos and uncertainty. This is MUCH easier said than done... 

 

I was reminded of this quote by Viktor Frankl in Man's Search for Meaning: “when we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves", which inspires me towards the perspective I would like to have. It also is SO not my reality all the time. One thing I hope to convey to those of you reading this is the reality that you might move through these stages in various ways, at different times, and you might circle back to certain feelings that you thought you worked through. That's OK. Especially during this time, when there is so much uncertainty, my wish for myself, and each of you, is that we can be present to whatever part of us is showing up, and learn what this part needs us to know when it shows up.

 

Most of all, let us be so kind and compassionate to ourselves and those close to us, because when our threat sensors go off (i.e. the parts of our brain that warns us when there might be danger), it sets off our attachment patterns more than ever. For some, we are primed us to reach out for connection with more urgency, and others might be primed to retreat inward to our safe haven away from others. Let us welcome a soothing and compassionate presence in ourselves, as well as towards those close to us, based on each of our needs. May we all invite a bit more patience, a tad more understanding, and forgiveness amidst this chaos. If accessible, let us invite a moment of gratitude for what we have, if only for the toilet paper. Amidst a time that even our basic elements of safety, health, connection are challenged, staying present to what we do have will give us the resilience to move through even the biggest shit storms. Even if you find it hard to access this during this time, allow that forgiveness, understanding and compassion for yourself. 

 

With warmest wishes of health, safety, moments of gratitude, peace and calm amidst this storm...

 

 

 

 

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