Here is one question I frequently hear in conversations these days: How long will this pandemic last?
While no one can see the future, we seem to enjoy playing with different scenarios. It’s the human mind and its restlessness, coupled with our ability to interpret anything in a million ways, that provides for variety in our online conversations.
Have you heard any of these?
· Nothing will be the same again.
· It will be here to stay with us for a long time; we have to get used to living with the risk.
· Let’s hold off until next year when the vaccine is here. Then we can go back to our lives.
As I found myself oscillating among these and other options, I wondered where the scenarios we create come from?
“From your information sources,” is an obvious response.
Yes, but at the same time, I noticed that to no small degree, it also matters how you feel in your life and how self-aware you are.
It’s a massive challenge for our brains to accept that we can’t predict what will be. We instead create scenarios in our minds. We then prepare for them, work out solutions for each option, and fear those alternatives that seem unfavorable.
It is exhausting. It’s a lot to deal with. And while those scenarios may never manifest, they take away energy and focus from what we have to work with NOW.
I recently came across a podcast with Mr. Srikumar Rao. He spoke of the “second arrow.”
This concept originated from Buddhist teachings. Buddha pointed out that to be shot by one arrow hurts, but to be shot by another arrow in the same place is even more painful. Why then do we shoot the second arrow anyway?
Mr. Srikumar Rao explains this teaching with a story. Here is a shortened paraphrase of it:
A young boy gets hurt in a car accident. Right after his mother learns about this terrible event, she receives a phone call from a friend. The friend says, “What kind of mother are you? How could you ever give him the keys to your car? You are a murderer!”
As you may surmise, that friend wasn’t a friend. The mother was hurt enough by the first arrow. And when the “friend” slung the second arrow, it created mental conversations and inner talk within the mother, who was already devastated by her son’s accident. Not only did she suffer because her son, whom she loved and protected her whole life, got hurt, she also accepted the arrow that hit her for the second time by telling herself that the accident—something no one could have foreseen—was her fault.
This happens too often. When was the last time you punished yourself with thoughts that did not help you or the situation?
Some people appear to be having a tough time with the second wave of a pandemic that hit us with unimaginable strength. The related restrictions and complete national lockdown seem to make people angry, fearful of the future, and desperate to cope with the pressures this reality brings with it.
But other people are living in the same reality who see the pandemic as an opportunity. These folks like to talk about the gifts that this situation, also new and challenging to them, is bringing. These people have a higher level of self-awareness; they go along with what life presents and find opportunities to learn and grow through any experiences.
What group are you in? What group will you join?
The choice is yours. You can decide how to deal with these times of adversity, even feeling happy and fulfilled despite external circumstances.
A quick way to get started? Boost your resilience, take care of your mental, physical and spiritual health. And work on dismantling the second arrow.
Don’t know how to start? Contact me. I understand and can help.