We know what we can do to minimize the risk of catching COVID19.
What can be more damaging for most of us is the emotional and psychological virus of confusion, fear and reactivity we experience under the impact of the wider social and economic implications. How do you protect yourself from this?
More infective than the coronavirus itself, this self-generated virus explodes at times of great stress, change and challenge because we ‘catastrophise’ – imagining the worst possible outcomes and then embellishing them with even worse consequences until we are disabled by fear and confusion. This brings negative consequences that reinforce the fear, leading to more damage on a tightening, downward spiral …
We cannot change the fact of the virus, but we can change our relationship to it.
Whether you let yourself be ruled by fear or choose to free yourself from it really is your choice – a choice that only you can make and action for yourself.
Your route to freedom from fear takes 5 steps:
STEP 1: Understand what fear is and where it comes from
The root of our fear lives in the most primitive, least-evolved part of our brain. Our fears are rooted in the deep instinct we share with all creatures for defence and survival in the face of immediate danger. When this defensive reaction is triggered it can ‘hijack’ our thoughts and emotions. We lose perspective and become transfixed on ‘danger’, when we would be better served focusing on the solutions.
Of course we have fears for the safety and security of ourselves, our family and our community. But fear itself serves no-one. So …
- Identify the cause of your fear – be as specific as you can.
- Focus on discriminating between what you can and cannot do about that cause.
- Make a plan and do what you can (see below) …
- Then focus on making the utmost of the here and now for yourself and those around you with the time and energy you have freed up.
STEP 2: Manage your physical and emotional responses (our ‘neurophysiology) through Presence
If you have ever found yourself getting tense and anxious and told yourself to ‘Relax, I must RELAX!”, you will know how difficult it is to control the body with your thoughts. To manage our physical self, we have to use the gift of our physical self … So …
- Wherever you are as you read this, stop, and look around. Are you under immediate threat of losing your life? No? Phew – that’s good!
- Now, feel the contact of your feet/foot with the floor … sense your hands … and the rest of your body.
- Become aware of your breathing – breathing is a wholly positive phenomenon – there is nothing negative about breathing!
- Let your breathing lower from your chest to your abdomen. Count your breaths, in and out, 5 times … 10 times if you can …
- Maintain that ‘sensing’, open your breathing …
Now, how do you feel? Calmer? More connected with this moment? Freer from the worries and the inner chatter of the ‘voice in your head’? Good … this is a deeper sense of Presence. And with presence comes choice.
STEP 3: Choose the story you tell yourself (instead of your fear choosing the story for you!)
Presence enables you to move from the passive victim of circumstance and fear to the empowered agent of your own world. Instead of the story of catastrophe and helplessness, create your new story of active participation and control by:
- From your state of presence, review what you know to be true about your situation
- If you are unsure, create and action a plan to find out
- If you cannot find out, accept that it is not known yet
- Next, separate out those things you can control, those you can influence to any extent, and those that you are concerned about, that are taking your attention and energy but about which you can do nothing
- Actively put those ‘concerns’ aside – ‘let them go’ with a note, if applicable, of when they might enter your areas of influence and/or control.
- Focus on those things you can influence and control.
- Have you done everything you can in each case – for yourself, the members of your family, your job, your financial situation …?
- Make a clear plan for each:
– What can you do? … – Who can others in your sphere do?
– What more information is needed?
– When do they need to be done?
– Who do you have to speak with and make agreements with?
You have now changed, significantly, your relationship to ‘the virus’ by taking charge of your circumstances – becoming the active author of the story of your life!
STEP 4: Being clear about what it is you want and how to get there
Now you’ve cleared the ground from your fears and confusion, you can look forward and focus on what you do want instead of what you don’t …
- What do you need to maintain and enhance your balance and flexibility going forward?
- What attitudes and messages do you want to provide for yourself, your family members, your colleagues …?
- Who and how do you wish to be as a leader of positive action and energy going forward?
- How can you best serve positivity, balance and the freedom of others?