“I don’t know about you but I found communication ramped up a lot after self-isolation began” With Suzanne Wylde

I don’t know about you but I found communication ramped up a lot after self-isolation began and not just because people had extra time on their hands — people were seeking reassurance. If you have friends who are feeling anxious, or living alone perhaps, make sure you reach out to them and check in, letting […]

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I don’t know about you but I found communication ramped up a lot after self-isolation began and not just because people had extra time on their hands — people were seeking reassurance. If you have friends who are feeling anxious, or living alone perhaps, make sure you reach out to them and check in, letting them know you’re around for a chat if they want.

Asa part of my series about the things we can do to remain hopeful and support each other during anxious times, I had the pleasure of interviewing Suzanne Wylde.

Suzanne is a holistic coach, stretching trainer, writer, acupuncturist and hardened tea-drinker. She has pursued her lifelong passion for self-development through university, hospitals, Mongolia, muddy fields, shamanic ceremonies, writing two books, loitering in cafes, standing in the occasional circle of hippies and thinking about important things. Helping people to get through hard times and find the gift in that experience lights her up. Her latest book The Art of Coming Home aims to empower people to work through their feelings and connect to their deep self-knowledge, which is especially important in times of uncertainty. She has seen people develop amazing resilience and strength not in spite of adversity but because of it. You can find some handy self-development resources at www.suzannewylde.com.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share with us the backstory about what brought you to your specific career path?

Through learning Tai Chi as a teenager and then doing a degree in Chinese medicine, I was introduced to a holistic way of thinking — not only in terms of health and people — but also of the world. This interconnected viewpoint made a lot of sense to me and I was drawn to helping people problem-solve their health and emotional issues in a very out-of-the-box way. It made complete sense to me that if you were not writing the book you wanted to write you could experience migraines, or that you might have a health complaint seeming to stem from a lack of self-love. To me health, self-development and living life are all interconnected concepts; all sides of the same coin and that is the reason my approach is quite eclectic.

Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?

I loved The Quest of the Overself by Paul Brunton (née Raphael Hurst) because it was one of the most beautifully-written books I had read, seeming to flow with a kind of grace and dignity. I read it when I was in my early 20s and although I was fairly familiar with meditation, it was the first book of its kind that gave me a clear idea of what was going on “behind the scenes” and the real reason that meditation practice is important.

Ok, thank you for all that. Now let’s move to the main focus of our interview. Many people have become anxious from the dramatic jolts of the news cycle. The fears related to the coronavirus pandemic have heightened a sense of uncertainty, fear, and loneliness. From your perspective can you help our readers to see the “Light at the End of the Tunnel”? Can you share your “5 Reasons To Be Hopeful During this Corona Crisis”? If you can, please share a story or example for each.

1. Forging strength from difficulty.

There are only certain times that we can develop our resilience and inner strength and these are times of adversity. The greater the hardship, the stronger we can become. This can actually make “normal” life easier afterwards and lead to us having greater self-belief. As long as we keep working through our emotions and practicing self-care as we go through times of hardship, we can become stronger and feel less fear instead of more. I do not have one specific example but reflecting on my own journey I can see that it was at my lowest points and through the hardest times that I grew as a person the most.

2. Highlighting the important things.

Many of the unimportant worries and fears we have in day-to-day life fall away when we come face-to-face with a real problem. This is an opportunity for us to value the things that really matter, loving our partners, friends and families. It is not often that this is brought into such focus for us — and rare that most of society is having the same experience at once. It is an opportunity to feel grateful for what we have. Many of my clients are seeing things much more clearly, which is actually making our work together that much more powerful and direct. Having distraction and smaller annoyances stripped away can be painful but very powerful.

3. Unifying Society

Although it goes without saying that wealthier people will have an easier time of it, money is not an obstacle to this virus and we are all united in our common humanity. It is also exposing inequalities in society more clearly, giving people an opportunity to reflect on whether this is the structure they want to invest their energy into long-term. Change does not happen overnight, but upheavals like this can be an opportunity for reform and evolution, both personally and in our wider societies as we think more deeply about the people we want to be. I think this is reflected on what we are seeing in the media and although we do not have a clear picture of how it will play out, it is important to remember that we have a part to play in how it does.

4. Fostering community

It seems ironic that people forced to live separately are feeling a stronger sense of unity, perhaps than they have ever felt in their lifetime. A crisis is a time to pull together and support one another, regardless of differences in politics. We all want our essential foods and items, we all want entertainment and we all want love and comfort. We all basically need the same things and this similarity makes it easy to connect to others in our local communities and across the world. Remembering this fundamental humanity and how it connects us all is a gift, one we find it much harder to experience so viscerally in our normal busy lives. Many of my clients are finding themselves feeling more connected to friends, family and community right now instead of less.

5. An opportunity to become more loving

In the face of adversity we generally have a couple of options — to shrink away in fear, or to grow larger to deal with it. Stepping up to a challenge while being responsible, taking care of others, caring for ourselves and choosing a loving and kind approach is something we can only practice in times of trouble. It would be easy for us to succumb to fear, only considering ourselves and our own needs, but by choosing love we can use this as an opportunity to increase our ability to love and be loved. The key is to work through your emotions, acknowledging feelings of fear and anxiety as they arise and then consciously choosing a loving approach to yourself and others. This does not mean living in denial or risking your safety, because love is a sensible emotion — it wants you to be safe and others to be safe also. It means allowing the fear to come and go, while you stay centered in your heart and acting accordingly. I have seen people take both approaches in the face of hardship and tragedy. The people who manage to stay open, work through their pain and find healing tend to be much more open-hearted, happier and more fulfilled in life. Those who succumbed to fear, self-pity and other negative emotions, without working through them are generally quite bitter and unhappy. So to choose love is also to choose happiness quite a lot of the time and it is good to remember that this is a choice we can make at any time.

From your experience or research what are five steps that each of us can take to effectively offer support to those around us who are feeling anxious? Can you explain?

  1. Let your friends know you are there

I don’t know about you but I found communication ramped up a lot after self-isolation began and not just because people had extra time on their hands — people were seeking reassurance. If you have friends who are feeling anxious, or living alone perhaps, make sure you reach out to them and check in, letting them know you’re around for a chat if they want.

2. Helping people to move through emotions

It is ideal to be able to name your emotions and work through them, but in challenging times fear, panic and anxiety can be handed back and forth like an echo chamber. So while helping your friends name their emotions, also try to help them move through the feeling rather than amplifying them to each other. It makes sense that this happens because a lot of fear emotions make us freeze — so we get stuck on that one feeling. Laughter, goal-setting, competition, games, stories and other things that either have a beginning and an end, or that change our state can be really useful.

3. Have empathy for others’ fears

In this situation we are not all equally at risk, but our fear and anxiety can make us forget that and also make us more reactive. Your elderly neighbour’s fear may be about their mortality, while your fear may be more about money. So, if you have a friend, family member or someone in your community who is in a different situation — whether better or worse — I recommend having empathy for their experience. If your friend has a lot more money than you, it does not mean they are not afraid, if someone is vulnerable it does not make them timid — everyone is having their own experience. So be kind, allow that person to have their emotions and try to see their point of view.

4. Moderate your social posts

Social media can be a great place to find out about local news, but many people use it to vent their unwanted emotions. So when everyone is feeling fear and anxiety it can become a storehouse for that. You go on to make sure you have all the information you need and that your friends and family are OK, and you come off feeling much worse than before. Think about what you are putting out into the world when you post — is this an emotion you should be processing yourself? Putting some light-hearted stuff out there can help to reduce other people’s anxiety. Because the energy of our anxiety cannot currently be put directly towards problem solving or taking much action, we need to tone it down, both for ourselves and for others.

5. Group activities that reduce anxiety

Now that video chat is a main source of communication you can participate in group activities which will help to reduce anxiety. You can do a group call and do a singing session together, do a drawing class, exercise session or even watch the same movie together. There are platforms that allow you to play board games and other games with your friends. If you have a certain talent you can lead your friends in that activity or class, taking their minds off their worries for some time.

What are the best resources you would suggest to a person who is feeling anxious?

I think breathing exercises work really well and you will find a wide range on the internet from mindfulness to Wim Hof. I recommend trying different things and using the one that works for you. There are some exercises on my site that help with anxiety. I also recommend putting the energy from your anxiety into something useful, like learning a skill, building or drawing something, organizing etc. As long as it does not worsen your anxiety, channelling that energy into something productive can make you feel satisfied and more at ease.

I also think that instead of fighting your anxiety, accepting it but remembering you can also feel other things at the same time, then shifting your attention to those others feelings, can be really helpful. You can also swap massages or self-massage, have a dance party, exercise and other fun things. So in general, accepting the fact that you are going to feel anxious sometimes, but taking breaks from it to breathe and laugh, is a realistic way of dealing with it.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life?

This is one I read recently, that seems relevant to the times:“Don’t beat yourself up for not knowing the answers. You don’t always have to know who you are. You don’t have to have the big picture, or know where you’re heading. Sometimes, it’s enough just to know what you’re going to do next.” (- Sophie Kinsella, The Undomestic Goddess).

Right now, it is enough to do what we can and focus on one thing at a time. It helps me to stay mindful, grateful for what I have as well as getting some things done and feeling satisfied about that.

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

Just be kind. Remember that we are all people, we are all flawed and everyone is doing their best. We may not always like their best, but instead of judging people harshly if we pulled together and supported each other we would have a lot less division and squabbling and a lot more progress in our society and maybe even scientifically and technologically. Ultimately, we are all connected, so treat everyone as if they were a member of your family by being kind, generous and sensible, while maintaining good boundaries. Ultimately I think if we are kind to ourselves in our thoughts, words and actions — that kindness will spill out to include the rest of the world.

What is the best way our readers can follow you online?

Connect to me on instagram @suzanne_wylde or facebook @Wyldesuzanne, also you can subscribe to my youtube channel at https://bit.ly/2Tv1Bj8 for self-development tools and information.

Thank you for these fantastic insights. We wish you only continued success in your great work!

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