I learned that I was part of the entrepreneurial hustle culture. When everything and everyone was forced to stop, I literally felt my body exhale. I felt like I was given a permission slip to stop and breathe. There was nobody to keep up with or get ahead of. I learned that I only had to go at my own pace. Slowing down and being present was the greatest gift I was given and the greatest lesson learned.
With the success of the vaccines, we are beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel of this difficult period in our history. But before we jump back into the routine of the normal life that we lived in 2019, it would be a shame not to pause to reflect on what we have learned during this time. The social isolation caused by the pandemic really was an opportunity for a collective pause, and a global self-assessment about who we really are, and what we really want in life.
As a part of this series called “5 Things I Learned From The Social Isolation of the COVID19 Pandemic”, I had the pleasure to interview Shari Alyse.
Known as the ‘Joy Magnet’, Shari Alyse is the author of the Best-Seller, Love Yourself Happy: The Journey Back to You, Motivational Speaker and Joy Coach. At seven years old, Shari found herself having to use her voice on a witness stand to testify against the man who had sexually abused her. She now uses her voice to speak around the world on self-worth, overcoming obstacles, and reclaiming your joy post-trauma. Shari is the former Co-Founder of one of the first holistic wellness communities and directories, host of multiple TV & radio shows, and has been featured in numerous media outlets including Huffington Post, Good Morning Washington, DailyOM, Only Good TV, and more.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Our readers like to get an idea of who you are and where you came from. Can you tell us a bit about your background? Where do you come from? What are the life experiences that most shaped your current self?
As a very young girl, I witnessed my mom go through a very challenging divorce and allow sadness to consume her. I became extremely sensitive and in tune with what the feeling was around the house. What I discovered was that when I walked into a room and said or did something funny, the energy shifted. My mom smiled. The sadness that had seemed to suck all the air out of the room was no longer there. I learned from a very young age that I could shift and transport people and their emotions to a different place, and that’s where the actress and entertainer were born.
A few years later, at the age of seven, I was sexually abused. I spoke up and found myself testifying on a witness stand. Needless to say, all of my sensitivity to others’ emotions heightened even more. Although I was going through a whirlwind of my own, I didn’t stop and take the time for my emotions because I was too worried about how other people were feeling about what had happened to me.
After decades of people-pleasing, perfectionism, and running, I became exhausted. In my exhaustion, I decided to stop. In that place of stillness, I found myself and my voice. That journey has led me to speak on stages around the world, author a best-selling book, and guide thousands of people on how to reconnect back to themselves and find their joy.
Are you currently working from home? If so, what has been the biggest adjustment from your previous workplace? Can you please share a story or example?
I worked from home pre-pandemic; however, the big adjustment was that my fiancé now works from home with me. We had to learn how to separate ourselves during ‘work’ hours so that we would actually want to see each other after work!
What do you miss most about your pre-COVID lifestyle?
Going to the movies. As a young girl who experienced abuse and felt alone in my feelings, movies saved me. They gave me hope and inspired me to believe that I could do amazing things with my life. Unless I have been sick or on vacation, I went to the movies every weekend. It felt like my best friend had moved away.
The pandemic was really a time for collective self-reflection. What social changes would you like to see as a result of the COVID pandemic?
I would like to see us become vocal on issues that don’t necessarily affect us directly. For example, last summer after the murder of George Floyd, I began to really pay attention. I chose to not look away. I dug my heels in and listened. I began watching documentaries, reading more factual history, read books that made me look deeper at my complacency. I spent the summer protesting (safely) for the BLM movement. I gathered fifty people who were also ready to start speaking out and we created a video in support of the movement. Because we were limited in where our attention could go, I had the blindfold ripped off my eyes to the many social issues and injustices. Things shouldn’t have to happen to you for it to matter to you.
What if anything, do you think are the unexpected positives of the COVID response? We’d love to hear some stories or examples.
For the first time in a long time, I felt people genuinely connecting as humans. Although we have always been connected online, I have felt that we are more disconnected from one another and ourselves. So many of us can be found scrolling social media for a quick self-esteem fix or to avoid their thoughts or time alone, but this time felt different. People were online looking to reach out and be there for one another.
We also started appreciating the people in our lives more. We went out of our way to connect with those that we hadn’t done so in years. My family connected more. My high school friends and I had virtual reunions. My fiancé and I played games together, listened more attentively, and opened up more.
People became more grateful for their relationships. The things we often take for granted because we’re so busy became the most important things in our lives.
So many reflected and found things in their life that they either wanted to change, improve or simply give their gratitude and focus to.
We discovered that we really do need each other. Life has more meaning when we have shared experiences.
There was a lot of good that came out of COVID and I do believe that one day we will look back upon this time and truly see the blessings and opportunities that came out of it.
How did you deal with the tedium of being locked up indefinitely during the pandemic? Can you share with us a few things you have done to keep your mood up?
The best way I knew how to handle this was to accept the situation and not fight it. I chose to find the small moments of joy.
I entertained my fiancé while he was working. I would come into his ‘office’ and pretend I was his co-workers greeting him. I tapped into my inner child and played dress-up with my wigs, did puzzles, and sang my heart out like I was a pop star. I spent every day reading books to my online community. I felt most people were needing reassurance, safety, and some sort of comfort. When I was in fifth grade, my teacher would read to us the Judy Blume series and there was something so comforting about having that shared experience together. I created a Facebook Live series called, “Story Time with Shari” where I would read books and share inspiration every day for three months. We read we laughed, we felt connected. My heart was full.
I also made sure that I got outside and took early morning walks to connect with nature.
Aside from what we said above, what has been the source of your greatest pain, discomfort, or suffering during this time? How did you cope with it?
The biggest discomfort I felt was feeling the fear and pain of others. As someone who has experienced trauma, I have learned tools and practices in handling really scary, stressful, and unexpected situations. It was really hard for me to watch and see so much suffering. I wanted to help everyone and comfort them, however, I also knew that I couldn’t carry that weight upon my shoulders. I did what I could to support those I cared about. I shared uplifting messages, I reached out as much as I could, and I showed up online as a calming and loving voice. And then, I surrendered the rest.
I made sure that I was caring for myself and that I wasn’t burying anything that needed to be paid attention to. I made sure that I was listening to my own needs, checking in with myself, and not feeling guilty when I was feeling good. I gifted myself with more self-care and more self-love!
Ok wonderful. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “5 Things I Learned From The Social Isolation of the COVID19 Pandemic? (Please share a story or example for each.)
- I learned that so many of us needed this pandemic. We needed to recalibrate, refocus and realign with ourselves and our values. I have quite a few friends who decided that it was time to start doing the things that they love and have always dreamed about doing. On a personal note, I found my ‘why’ again. I was reminded of why I do the work I do and I found the joy again in doing it.
- I learned that when it comes to social issues like racism, having a loving heart is not enough. Our hearts must have feet. Not being racist is not enough — I must be an anti-racist. I must speak up when there are things said or done that harm others and not stay silent just because it doesn’t directly affect me. I learned that I have to make space for others’ issues and not just my own.
- I learned that I trust myself. I trust that I will always be okay in any situation. When the words “Thank God for my trauma” rolled off my tongue the third week of lockdown, I knew that all my inner work had led me to this moment and being able to feel capable of handling anything that could come from this. Although it’s not always easy, I show up for myself daily and this has built resilience, confidence, and self-trust.
- I learned that I was part of the entrepreneurial hustle culture. When everything and everyone was forced to stop, I literally felt my body exhale. I felt like I was given a permission slip to stop and breathe. There was nobody to keep up with or get ahead of. I learned that I only had to go at my own pace. Slowing down and being present was the greatest gift I was given and the greatest lesson learned.
- I learned that humor is a necessity during challenging times. I found myself acting silly, being more imaginative and creative, and finding the light-heartedness in the heavy. We joked about our weekend plans for going from one room to the other. We made our kitchen the movie theater concession stand. We had dance parties, karaoke nights, and talent shows. Humor became my daily companion.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you during the pandemic?
“Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier.” — Mother Teresa
From the first time I read this quote decades ago, it was as if my soul was lit on fire. It resonated so deeply and it’s become my guiding force and direction in and for my life. I made sure that during these challenging times, I was someone that made sure you felt better after any interaction with me.
We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them.
As I mentioned, I was sexually abused at seven years old. It was 1981 and the #MeToo movement wasn’t around. As a matter of fact, nobody was speaking openly about it. That included everyone I knew. Although I found myself on a witness stand speaking out about it, I didn’t have anyone to talk to or who understood what I was going through. It wasn’t until I was twelve years old that someone finally did. I was watching Oprah Winfrey and she revealed her own sexual assault. For the first time, I felt less alone. I felt seen. I felt somewhat normal. She gave me direction and inspiration for my life. I could make it too. From that day forward, I knew I wanted to be an inspiration for others. She did that for me and my entire life would come full-circle if I simply had the chance to thank her in person.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
They can visit me on my website at www.ShariAlyse.com
Facebook page — www.Facebook.com/SharingWithShari
Facebook group — https://www.facebook.com/groups/thejoyspot
Instagram — www.Instagram.com/ShariAlyse
LinkedIn — https://www.linkedin.com/in/sharialyse/
Twitter — www.Twitter.com/ShariAlyse
Love Yourself Happy is available on Amazon.
Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this. We wish you continued success and good health.
Thank you so much! I’m so grateful to have connected with you and your readers!