If 2020 were a novel, it would fall between the genres of suspense and thriller; from the Australian wildfires and impeachment trial to the novel coronavirus and economic crash, this year has brought a bounty of unwelcome surprises. It’s no wonder many of us are feeling anxious about our future. Rest assured that beyond the current crisis lies a bigger message.
Nothing in the universe happens that’s not meant to happen; even tragedy plays a crucial role in making progress. What’s unfolding right now might be the tragic yet divine intervention that wakes us up, if only partly. While it’s highly unlikely that this pandemic will be the “end” of us, it could be the beginning of a new system. A system, perhaps, that is less broken and fairer for all. It’s possible that once we surpass this problem, we will collectively redefine the methods we employ in everyday life. Certainly, our ways of thinking and doing will never be the same.
Here we have the good that can come out of a crisis: the opportunity to change for the better. We seize this opportunity when we choose to elevate our perception and implement the right actions. Acknowledging truths like these can help us conquer any crisis:
Heal yourself first. Even if you’re not ill, your mind, body, and spirit still need healing. We’ve all experienced pain and suffering and we must mend our inner wounds before we can turn our attention outward. The Earth is an inseparable part of our healing process; we need the sounds of running water, the delicate scents of flowers, the soothing songs of birds, and the taste of fresh fruit. If possible, spend time among nature right now. If you’re stuck in the house, you might want to use these precious days for self-reflection. Meditations, affirmations, and journaling are all great exercises to clear your mind and transmute your emotions. So do some soul searching and see what you find: Are you at peace with everything that has happened to you? Have you forgiven everyone who has hurt you? Do you accept yourself wholly, including your faults and flaws? When you’re healed, you act differently. You don’t respond with anger and aggression; compassion and understanding come forth naturally.
Be present in the moment. Living outside of time disempowers you. But living in the now endows you with strength; when you’re present in the moment, you can utilize the resources readily available to you. Here’s a simple exercise to reduce anxiety and reel you back to reality. Plant your feet into the ground and close your eyes. Ground yourself. Engage your five senses and pay attention to what you hear, feel, see, taste, and touch. Run your hands along a nearby object and note its texture. Inhale the aromas that surround you. Reaffirm to yourself that you exist now, therefore you are powerful now.
Don’t be vulnerable to fear. Fear is the most contagious virus. When we act on fear or desperation, we usually make mistakes. Don’t allow anyone to persuade you to do something you feel you shouldn’t do andrefrain from major decisions when you’re emotionally overwhelmed.Tame your emotions so that instead of reacting immediately, you first reflect on the effects your actions could have in the short and long terms. Scribble down your thoughts and make your decision after the fear has subsided. If you become confident in your inner voice, you’ll become fearless.
Redefine your beliefs. Permanent change requires unlearning wrong beliefs and relearning more positive principles. We’re taught what to think from the day we’re born; what if we were free to undo those beliefs and replace them with new ones? The stories portrayed by the media and people around us seep into our consciousness and affect our thoughts. Be mindful of your influences for this reason. Separate what you’re being made to believe from what you want to believe. This is not to say that you should distance yourself from others because they have different beliefs, but simply that you must learn to think for yourself. Stand up politely but firmly to people who leave a negative impression on your life and strengthen your intuition so you can make more inspired choices.
Pinpoint your purpose. Those of us who have to refrain from everyday activities might feel a sense of unease. Our routine has been disrupted and with it, our emotional predictability. We’re so used to going about our rounds, to waking up and going from work to gym to restaurants, that we almost don’t know how to feel when our daily cycles are suspended. We might experience uncomfortable feelings, but we have to examine why: Is it unfulfillment or dissatisfaction? A crisis should awaken you to your true purpose. I may not know you personally, but I know that you’re meant for more than routine—more than a dead-end job or an unhappy relationship. Your highest purpose manifests in deep-seated joy and abundance, further than the form of material things. Use self-isolation to rediscover your needs and goals. Leave your phone alone for a day and communicate with yourself. Introspect with honesty and home in on your heart’s calling; only you know what it is. That way, when regular life resumes, maybe you’ll choose a new path.
Treat the Earth like a family member. One false belief long held by humans is that we’re superior to other beings and in control of the world. We’re not. We’ve simply been disconnected from the Earth for too long. We have a relationship with our planet but it has become a dysfunctional, one-sided relationship in which one partner does everything for the other. As you can imagine, these relationships usually don’t end well. Stop thinking of the Earth as some never-ending source of food and fuel; it is your home. It is a part of you by extension. Care for it as you would a member of your close family. The Earth was meant to provide everything we need, but it can only do so if it’s healthy. We have to work to sustain our planet’s wellbeing, or we will become unwell. The more we hurt it the more we hurt ourselves, devastated by natural disasters and unprecedented diseases. Understand that you belong to the Earth; the Earth does not belong to you.
Become more self-sufficient. The majority of us rely on local supermarkets to supply us with food, water, and household items. But what would happen if stores experience shortages? Most of us also keep our money in a bank, but what if banks shut down temporarily and ATMs can’t dispense cash? It’s necessary to imagine such scenarios not to increase fear but preparedness. We should all be contemplating ways to become more autonomous, depending less on companies and more on ourselves. If you have a backyard, for example, you can use it to grow food like fruits and vegetables, even raise livestock. Convert your home to solar energy if you’re able to. Learn the medicinal uses of herbs and plants to replace pharmaceutical drugs. Strategize how your family can become more self-sustainable in uncertain times.
We’re all in this together. The illusion of separateness is falling apart. At the end of the day, there’s no such thing as me, only we. It’s time we accept this reality. You may identify as an individual entity, but everything in this world is shared. It was not made for you or me or somebody else; it was made for everybody. We must become less greedy and more giving, willing to contribute and assist. The fact that COVID-19 is so highly contagious from person to person reminds us of the fact that we are not eight billion humans leading separate lives; we are one.
Scoping out the bigger lessons we’re supposed to learn from a crisis grants us power. The sooner we recognize the changes we need to make, the sooner our global situation will become more stable and our future less frightening.
Dr. Carmen Harra