Finding meaning – 3 Phases we are all going through
Forces beyond your control can take away everything you possess, except one thing; your freedom to choose how you respond. You cannot control what happens to you. But you can control how you react to it. Life can bring many challenges, and it’s your choice how you want to deal with the challenges.
There are 3 definite stages you go through when your life goes through a sudden or even expected change. The 3 stages are adapting, apathy, adjust to what is.
Take the announcement of COVID-19 lockdown. You hear the announcement and start to prepare for a 21 days lockdown, something you have never experienced before. You go into the adapting phase. You don’t know how to prepare, and you follow the masses, thinking they certainly know how to prepare. We all started to watch many YouTube videos, WhatsApp messages from friends and foes, the news on tv, and whatever we could put our hands and ears on to learn more. Many of us prepared our homes by stocking up on food and essentials to continue our daily routines with relative ease. I’m sure you were as surprised as I was, at how quickly the grocery shelves got empty, especially those shelves with essentials to survive over an extended period. Another action we took as part of the adapting was to watch and read as much as possible about the coronavirus and how to keep our families and ourselves safe. I have personally never known as much about viruses as I know now. I bet it’s the same for you. As a global community, we started to wash our hands much more than ever before, hand sanitize, and even wear masks if you could get hold of masks. The first time I went shopping wearing a mask and gloves, I felt strange, like an alien in my community. It felt as I am hiding something, and I even was concerned that some would be worried that I am wearing the mask, because I am sick. Thank goodness, to date, I am still healthy and well.
Another experience we have in the adapting phase is a rollercoaster of emotions, high energy like we all Duracell bunnies, busyness, and thoughts racing through our heads. The evening before lockdown started, I got into bed and had a good cry. I cried because I was overwhelmed, worried, emotional about my children and their safety, both physically and emotionally. I also cried for all the suffering in the world and my inability to do much about it. But, I woke up on the first day of lockdown and had a 2-hour long Zoom call with my husband, our daughter, our two sons, and our son – and daughter-in-law to help us all as a group to use the power of our minds to find meaning amidst the COVID-19 lockdown. We listed benefits for each one of us and especially benefits in what is of the highest importance to us. The highest importance and highest priorities range from business, finance, physical fitness, family relationships, health, social connections, and self-mastery. After the deep connecting family time, albeit virtually, we inspired each other to find meaning and use the power of our minds to manage our emotions and perceptions.
“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”
Viktor E Frankl
The next phase, namely, apathy, is where many of us are in now. We have done preparation; we are adapting more to the ever-changing world we are facing daily. But you wake up in the mornings feeling tired. Even after more hours of sleep than usual. You battle to get going in the mornings and need more coffee or stimulants to get going. The reason why you are feeling more tired is because you feel more challenged than supported, you experience more pain than pleasure and more losses than gains in your current situation. Your days look the same, one day after the other, even if you are very busy with daily activities. The four walls of your home can start to feel too small, and this is the phase where despondency, hopelessness, and depression can start to creep in.
Finding meaning in your current situation is your best way of coping. But how do I find meaning, you might ask. I encourage you to get a pen and paper and answer the following questions honestly:
1. Where are you currently growing in your spirituality? Are you feeling closer to a higher power? Are you reconsidering how you do life, and are you seeing options of how you wish to do it differently?
2. What are you doing to grow your mind? Are you learning more about survival, health, compassion, world situations? Are you getting closer to yourself, and are you watching yourself and how you think and respond? You want to learn to use the power of your mind, and therefore you are listening or reading this?
3. How are you rethinking your work situation, whether you are a business owner or an employee? Are you finding your way, working from home, and finding it can be pleasurable?
4. What are you doing to manage the challenges you are currently facing with your money? Are you asking for help, and are you cutting costs? Is your money becoming more meaningful because you give it your time and attention?
5. Which of your family relationships are showing moments of deepening, caring, closeness? How does this add meaning to your life?
6. How are you keeping your connections with your friends? Or are you perhaps realizing that your family members are now like your friends as well, and it fills you?
7. What are you doing to look after your health? Are you sleeping more, feeling less stressed because you don’t have to sit in traffic, are you eating more nutritionally, washing your hands more? How has your health become more meaningful to you?
Can you see how your current situation adds meaning to your life? It is the resistance to change that makes us panic. Going with the flow and seeing the gifts and blessings create meaningful experiences.
Adjust to what is
The human spirit is strong and adaptable. We can adjust to what is if we set our minds on that. Where have you in the past faced challenges, big changes, disruptions in your life? And what were the meaning and blessings you received from it?
I am daily meeting clients on Zoom, helping them to cope with their current challenges and uncertainties. I am astonished and delighted to be the witness of courage, adaptability, willingness to shift, and finding meaning in otherwise meaningless experiences. I am hearing how family members got thrown into one household because of the lockdown, and they are growing closer to each other than ever before. I hear about moms finding new creativity in their abilities to help their children with schoolwork. I had the privilege to spend time with a man who is connecting with his ability to change the way the family business has been run and how he now has the opportunity through this lockdown to restructure it to the way he knows it will work better in the changing environment.
We all have a choice. We either feel like victims, helpless and hopeless. Or we use the power of our minds to master ourselves. It is a free choice, and nobody can choose for you. Only you can. We cannot change what is currently happening in the world, but we can change our attitude and how we respond to what is happening.
Choose wisely. You will reap the benefits of your choices.