Has the covid crisis been your catalyst for inner-change?
There’s no escaping it. Change is all around us.
Whilst many people have struggled to get their basic needs met during this pandemic, others have been fortunate enough to have the time to reflect, taking stock of their lives; with some launching brand new ventures, finding new paths or exploding into a whole new way of living.
Even though I truly believe humanity is experiencing a crisis at this time, as with all life’s challenges – or the lemons we receive – there is always an opportunity to make lemonade. And in 2021, perhaps there are even more opportunities to make that lemonade exactly as you’d like it. Sparkling, cloudy or the equivalent of an old-fashioned recipe your grandmother once made.
Of course, it goes without saying that ‘crisis’ can mean so many different things to so many people. A crisis to one is not a blip on another's radar. My individual experience or perception of crisis is unique to yours because our beliefs and past influences or conditioning are unique.
So, how are you feeling?
With this in mind, not everyone sees this time of great change imposed on us as a catastrophe or even a bad thing. And of course, it’s worth remembering that sometimes the impact of things we don’t choose for our lives can transform into something even better than we could have consciously orchestrated for ourselves.
We see and hear this time and time again. Libraries are filled with inspirational stories written in every decade and across the centuries about ordinary people who accidentally (or perhaps serendipitously) found their purpose by losing their ‘old life’ – their jobs, their husbands, their wives or their livelihoods – only to discover that the life they are meant to be living was neatly wrapped inside the gift of unexpected change.
Don’t just do something, sit there!
So what can we do while we navigate the constantly changing environment and its associated impact on us? Traditionally, at times of crisis, we’ve learned to react quickly. To take action. To do something. Anything! “Don’t just sit there, do something!”
But sometimes, just sitting there, being with all that we’re feeling, experiencing and noticing, before we do something, is exactly what’s needed when we – or our surroundings – feel like they’re collapsing all around us.
Everybody knows that knee-jerk reactions to decisions or choices that benefit from – or absolutely require careful thought – are best avoided if we are to be mindful about genuinely supporting ourselves fully. Yet sometimes, our fear and panic take over as we activate our compulsions; those radical, reflex reactions which are often borne out of unconscious behaviour patterns.
Those unhelpful patterns we may have needed back in those early years, in order to stay safe – or at least to feel safe – in our surroundings.
Remember, we are all artfully schooled as a society, to keep moving in our high achieving, fast living and tech-driven lifestyles. We’ve been programmed to move quickly, to react to external stimuli or other people’s coercive agendas which prompt us into action.
We’re forgotten that we can think for ourselves. But real thinking takes time and we need space to think. Real and metaphorical space. Good thinking rarely takes place in busy, noisy spaces where we’ve got a million and one things to achieve. Distractions come easily from north, south, east and west and it’s often easier to focus on something external – or someone else’s needs – rather than ourselves.
Making space, taking our time, stillness or just living life at a slower pace – even for some of the time – is essential to feeling better and becoming more aware of who we are, how we feel and what we want. Yet slow(er) is often sidelined, pooh-poohed or classified only for those who lack ambition, are too lazy to move any faster or for people who have no choice.
And with input from our social media driven-world who have over-sold us the value of seeing fantasy-perfect lives, many are now realising that this massively under-delivers and we have been blindsided in the process.
We’ve been catapulted into chaotic confusion about who we are, what we want and what we should be doing with our lives.
So, what has been happening for you on this epic 2020-2021 journey of transformation? Here are a couple of simple signs that could indicate you’ve already begun your own inner-transformation.
1. You feel differently about your ‘old’ life but you don’t know why
One of the first indicators that something has shifted for you is how you feel on the inside about your life as it was. Perhaps the volcanic eruptions of the pandemic on the outside brought you face-to-face with feelings on the inside that until now, you’d successfully managed to hide (even from yourself) for a very long time.
Those feelings might be about the work that you do, where – or how you live – or the relationship you’re in. Perhaps you’re starting to see it all in a whole, new and different light.
Are you suddenly feeling overwhelmed with gratitude for everything that you have? Perhaps you’re appreciating the simple things now; connecting with it all on a deeper level as you grow closer to others, becoming more authentic as a result of the outer-changes that are taking place?
This certainly happened for some. They realised the life they really craved was right in front of them. It was the one they were forced to be with during the ‘stay at home’ messaging. The same one they had been trying to escape as they routinely ran the habitual rat race of their busy schedule.
Alternatively, perhaps you’ve noticed that you’re finally losing the veil of denial about the dissatisfaction you’ve been tolerating for way too long and you’re determined to make changes in one or more areas of your life now; regardless of whether things return to ‘normal’ or not.
I’d recommend starting a daily journal, writing down all the feelings you are experiencing at this time. Write until you’re done. Or give yourself a set length of time if each day, if that’s easier for you. Be honest about everything you feel. What’s emerging? Are there any new thoughts, feelings, patterns or insights?
What’s joyful? What’s troubling you and which parts of your life are becoming clearer as you write?
2. You feel trapped or stuck in a life that feels meaningless
If you’re feeling stuck or trapped right now and can’t see a way out, that’s actually a good thing. Yes. Really. The good thing is that you’ve noticed.
You’re aware of it and awake to how you are feeling. And that’s always a fantastic start because it means you know where you are. The start point. Just as you locate where you are on a map at the beginning of any journey, you need to know where you’re starting from now, along with the direction of travel.
Feeling trapped or stuck following a crisis means that although change has come in from the outside to restrict you from previous activity or freedoms (unless you were feeling stuck before, of course) you’re now on pause and available to see new possibilities. New opportunities will become apparent with this new energy, that may not have been visible – or even possible – before.
New possibilities always hide in crises – however violently the crisis arrives or cleverly they opportunity is disguised – so it’s helpful to stay hopeful and vigilant. Sometimes the new hides in plain sight, with the restriction itself being the gift. Take a look around you. What have you been prevented from doing? What else is here instead? What is your new, everyday life showing you, which wasn’t visible before?
Being willing to step into the gap between what was and what could be – if only with your intention – means that your message to the universe is ‘I’m open, I’m actively waiting.’
What’s here, right now for you? Notice. Pause. Look at life differently. If you only ever see the blocks or barriers, just announce your willingness to see those blocks being removed and to look for the upsides too.
Let go of how you think life should be
Yes, it might mean there is a period of mourning. Grief. Feeling and expressing pain for the shock and loss of a previous way of life and being is natural – and necessary, of course. It’s normal. So, yes, give in to it. But don’t stay there. Get help, support or speak to a trusted friend about how you feel. We all need each other at these times.
Holding onto an idea of how life (or anything) should be, means you could be completely missing how life actually is or how great it could be. So, the process of shutting yourself following a crisis is natural. Yet even when the door is closed, you can know that it is possible for it to open again – someday – and soon. When you are ready.
Movement and change are always occurring. Eventually, we all move on from our grief, if only in clumsy or small, shuffling ways at first. Nothing ever stays the same.
You’re different from when you started reading this piece. I’m different from when I started writing it.
As Geoffrey Chaucer reminds us, “Time and tide wait for no man.”
When you’re accepting of change – and expectant of it – awake to what is happening in you, around you and to whatever is moving through you (even if you don’t fully understand it) you’ll have a much better chance of influencing it; shaping it and playing with it, until the change that is meant to appear or emerge feels good to you.
Sleeping through tumultuous times may well feel like the perfect painkiller – keeping you warm, woozy or as Pink Floyd sang, ‘comfortably numb’ – but denial is definitely The Devil in disguise. The Devil knows how to entice and schmooze you in the short-term. But God, your Higher Power or that inner-truth – whichever of these you identify with – always bears fruit in the long run, if you dare to engage.
So, maybe write, draw, paint or sculpt the ‘stuck’ or the ‘trapped’. What image, shape or colours do you see? If the trapped had a voice, what would it be saying to you at this time? And how do you instinctively want to respond?
Notice what all this reveals to you and perhaps take this opportunity to play more at this time. Speak with a therapist or coach to get a sense of how your gifts may be trying to guide you on a new journey of transformation.
But above all, remember that the human spirit is strong. We all can – and indeed do – endure. And through that endurance, we sometimes discover the life we are meant to be living instead.