Uncertainty isn’t good for human beings. Too much of it and we’re all subject to a range of emotions we didn’t ask for. Welcome to Spring 2020!
What can you do?
Here’s a method to learn to catch yourself and manage your emotional health as it’s happening:
If you think of time on a continuum of past, present and future, you can begin to practice intervening with your moods. Moods are like clouds in the sky, they pass by and are impermanent. The sky is the fabric of who you are and is constant. We need practices to manage our moods as they occur, and help them pass when they are impeding our effectiveness and joy.
When you spend too much time focused on the past, you become fearful. (what used to be, when will it return to “normal,” why did this happen, what should we have done…)
When you spend too much time focused on the future, you worry. (what if we can’t get through this, what if I or my loved ones catch COVID-19, what if, what if, what if…)
When you spend too much time in the present, you settle. (this is manageable, don’t change anything, let’s roll with this and maintain…)
Whether you realize it or not, you need to shift between these three states and pay attention to when you’ve been in any one of them too long. The way you know that is to be keenly aware of the mood you’re in to shift your focus if it’s not working. Like the gears on a bike, we can shift – when we’re present to it.
If you’re wondering how to best focus your time amidst the flurry of change we’re facing these days, here’s a metaphor that may help: when you’re in the driver’s seat of your car, the windshield is the largest to allow you to see what’s ahead (future thinking), your rear view mirror is small in comparison (past) to inform you of where you’ve been, and the dashboard tells you where you’re at right now (present) so you know if you have what you need to navigate what’s ahead. It’s larger than your rear view, but smaller than the windshield.
Should you feel worried or afraid, ground yourself in where you are. When you’re ready, focus on what’s next, unless you start to worry. Always return to where you are if the clouds are present and blocking the sky. It will clear up and you will move forward again.