Tell me, do you feel “normal” right now?
Let’s face it: whatever “normal” was for each of us before COVID-19, it’s been disrupted. Whether it’s a change in our routines, relationships, professional lives, finances, energy or all of the above, we’ve all had our lives shifted in ways outside of our control.
The thing about this kind of disruption is that it can be extremely revealing. What we were once shoving under the carpet is now staring us in the face. Things we didn’t even realize we were burying are cropping up. Cracks in our foundations are being exposed.
What’s more, many of our old coping mechanisms aren’t an option anymore. We can’t run to the gym, go shopping, visit friends, or distract ourselves with endless to-do lists that keep us busy, busy, busy.
We can still numb ourselves on Netflix, alcohol, pot, snacks or social media.
Or… we can choose to create from COVID-19.
How Do You Create From COVID-19?
This is a bizarre time and there is no guidebook on how to get through it, especially since we’re all in such different circumstances.
But, when it comes to our cracks being exposed, we all have the choice to either fight against them, or lean into them.
When you lean into your whole self – your shadow and your light – you choose personal growth; you choose for your past experiences not to predict your future.
You see, the past has a momentum to it. Patterns, assumptions, beliefs and comfort zones become established through our past, and if we don’t stop to examine these things, they can easily become the drivers of how our future plays out.
One positive of this pandemic is that it is forcing a disruption in all those old patterns, giving us an opportunity to see them more clearly, and to decide if we want to bring them forward with us, or leave them in the past.
This deep reflection builds your self awareness and raises your consciousness. It empowers you to start cutting off power to the things that aren’t serving you, and feeding into the parts of yourself that bring you joy and a sense of purpose.
Even if you can only carve out 10 minutes for yourself each day, you can use that time to take note of what’s happening within you and start making conscious, intentional choices about what you want to feed into to create a future that is less informed by the past, and more focused on who you truly are and what you want for yourself.
The amazing thing about this is that when we create a shift within ourselves, it tends to have a domino effect on those around us. So, if we each do our part during these times, not only will we raise our individual consciousness and joy, we will also contribute towards raising the consciousness of the planet. And from there, so much is possible.
So… where do we start?
Here Are 10 Ways You Can Create From COVID-19:
1 – Accept whatever is coming up and allow it to fully surface
Imagine your life as a river. A river has a lot of different parts. It widens and narrows, rushes over rocks, moves around fallen trees, and so on. As you move along your river, you can choose to go with the flow of whatever comes up, or you can try to fight against it and ignore the obstacles. Which option do you think will be the smoother ride?
In real life, obstacles come in many forms. They can be circumstances around us, or feelings within us. Either way, the smoothest path through is to fully accept whatever it is that comes up. Be with it. Dance with it. Let it surface so that you can see all sides of it.
Let’s say you have some anxiety trying to surface. We’re in the midst of a pandemic, so anxiety is expected! Right. It’s just pandemic anxiety and the pandemic isn’t something you can control, so shove that anxiety back down and just push forward.
But what if you don’t stuff it down? What if you sit with it and let it fully come to the surface? What might that rock in your river reveal if you allow yourself to examine it from all sides?
We’re getting into a lot of metaphors now, but if you’ll bear with me, these can be really helpful…
I want you to now imagine negative emotions as magnets – but magnets that only attract more of themselves. Whenever we experience a negative emotion, it tends to drag up similar emotions we tried to stuff down, making the current emotion even stronger. So, feelings of anxiety from the pandemic can actually drag up and expose our anxious feelings around everything else!
If you’ve been stuffing down a lot of negative feelings in the past, letting them come up can be frightening, but if you don’t allow them to surface you can’t process them and ultimately let them go. They’ll just keep building and building and building, making every obstacle even more difficult because these buried feelings are being dragged up every time you hit a rock in your river.
Now is the time to let it all come up. Be in the moment. Sit with it. Meditate on it. Journal about it. Punch pillows. Cry. Burn it. Zoom call your coach or therapist. Take a long (physical distancing) walk or run. Whatever comes up, let it flow through you, so that you can release it.
The same goes for positive emotions! Many of us let the everyday joys of life pass us by when we’re busy, busy, busy. Set the intention to allow every emotion in, fully. Let yourself experience what they’re showing you. The funny thing about positive emotions – joy, love, peace, and so on – is that they only stick with us when we allow them in. Rather than being released, they become part of us and help us build on what brings us more joy. Go figure ;)
2 – Tune into all parts of you
These are unprecedented times. They demand a new version of you – a version that is complete.
When we’re growing up, we’re taught to use our brains. You need to do well in school and get good grades so that you can get into a good university and go on to excel in a career. And that’s ok because it is important to learn and grow intellectually. There’s certainly a lot of value in it. But it isn’t the whole picture and most of us aren’t taught to tune into the rest of ourselves.
What is your body telling you? How is your heart feeling? What is your intuition showing you?
If we’re only tuning into our minds – to our intellectual or logical messages – we’re missing all of this other input that can help us make better decisions and create more joy.
Take this time to practice tuning into your body’s messages. Ask yourself, “What do I need at this moment?” Then let yourself feel it. If you let your mind answer, it will likely bring up your to-do list, but if you let your body feel what it needs, you get a more complete picture of what you need to not just survive, but thrive.
For me, I am finding that I need to put the oxygen mask on myself more often. Before this, I was meditating twice a day and that was enough for my well being. Now I find myself needing to either have multiple mini-meditations throughout the day, play some music and dance it out between client sessions, or to just slow down, take a few deep breaths and feel my heartbeat, or even go outside and hug a tree. I need extra refueling time during the day to keep me going and it’s my body, not my mind that tells me this.
When all parts of us have our attention, it benefits every other part. When I let my mind steal the show, it starts to burn out. I get tired, frustrated and I know I’m not bringing my best self. But when I let my body, mind and spirit share the stage, they all perform beautifully together. They tap into my creativity, energy and inner drive. They connect with each other, support each other and empower me to bring my full intelligence forward.
When I tune into all parts of myself, I show up as my best self for my clients, my family and for me!
Tune into your body and intuition. Create from all parts of yourself.
3 – Ask for help
These are not normal times. You can’t do everything you used to do. Expecting yourself to is the opposite of self-love. As one of my incredibly amazing friends and coaching colleagues, Susan Ross, said, “B+ is the new A+”.
Be more compassionate with yourself and others. We are all experiencing new situations and chaos that is turning our worlds upside down and changing in each minute. We cannot expect ourselves to continue performing the way we did before.
Ask for help with things you never dared ask for help with before. One thing we can expect from ourselves is to continue to grow and learn. There has never been a better time to learn to ask for help and to grow from the results.
For me, I got my son to start helping with household chores. So far, he has learned how to put some meals together, how to fold clothes, and how to do some gardening. This has been as enriching for him as it has been helpful to me.
I also asked my partner to take on more stuff, which has been a huge “aha” moment for me. I’ve learned that if I just ask, the people who love and support me will help!
Now, let’s say you ask and your request is denied. Lean into that. Is the person you asked also feeling overwhelmed? Maybe they just don’t have it to give! That’s ok and maybe instead of helping each other with tasks, you can lean on each other for emotional support. As the Rolling Stones famously sang, “You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, well, you might find, you get what you need.”
On the other hand, you might find yourself surprised by how happy someone is to lend a hand.
4 – Find a space where you can be held
As a coach, I hold a safe space for people. I am there for whatever emotions are coming up, and to help them process and navigate these times.
And I am human as well. I also need to be held; to have a safe space I can turn to. I am part of a leadership tribe that I feel I can turn to when I need a safe space. I also tune into a weekly call led by shamans who share ancient and heartfelt wisdom that gives me the energy I need to fuel my week. Knowing I have these virtual spaces is an immense source of comfort and lifts a weight from my shoulders.
I didn’t always have these spaces and it took time to find spaces that felt truly safe for me, meaning I trusted that I could share whatever was coming up and have it met with compassion. I have also had safe spaces in the past that I either outgrew, or that stopped working for me. This is normal and it’s ok if it takes time to find your space.
Commit to finding a group where you feel you can be held and where you can be fully human, authentic and transparent, allowing your fears, concerns and emotions to flow. This can be a friend group, an online community, even a social club like a book club or running group. Of course, your “space” will have to be a virtual one while the pandemic continues, but isn’t it amazing to live in a time when human connection truly is possible through technology? Embrace what’s available and find your safe space.
5 – Create from everything
COVID-19 is creating a new normal whether we choose to be co-creators of that normal or not. You can just let circumstances turn things upside down around you, or you can choose to actively create from whatever comes up, taking control of how you respond and being the author of this chapter in your story.
Like it or not, we need to adjust our way of being. We need to embrace flexibility whether with our work, or with our family.
For example, I’ve realized that I can’t be strict with my son with everything going on. He likes to stay up late and I’ve chosen to honour his cycle, while holding him accountable for attending his online classes and completing his homework. But, I was also feeling that with our schedules off, we weren’t spending as much time together. One of the most beautiful moments for me was the day I was waking up just as he was heading to bed. We decided to create from that moment and go for a walk together to watch the sunrise. It was such a great moment of connection that we’ll both hold with us for a lifetime, and it wouldn’t have been possible back in our old routines.
Choose to create from what is happening in the moment. Play with it, embrace it, dance with it. You will experience things to new depths and heights!
When it comes to work, many of us just don’t have the option to put in a regular workday anymore. Even if we are fortunate to be able to work from home, we may have children or elderly relatives to care for. For essential workers, even though you’re still going into work, your workday is probably far from normal!
During these times, continually ask yourself how you can increase your flexibility – especially flexibility in how you respond to what comes up – and create from what is going on around you.
For example, instead of giving into frustration that your Zoom meetings keep getting interrupted by children, embrace the fact that your kids are getting to see you in a different light. If you’re an essential worker, let yourself sit with all the kind and heartfelt comments from people showing a whole new appreciation for your contribution.
When you find yourself feeling sad, overwhelmed, fearful or stressed out, first let yourself fully accept and feel what’s coming up, then ask yourself how you can create from it.
6 – Share your gifts
During these times, a lot of people are realizing they’ve been hiding their gifts – even from themselves!
It’s interesting that it’s taken a pandemic for people to appreciate the endless bounds of creativity and the true value of what humanity has to offer. We see it every day across the media – people dancing in the streets, singing from their balconies, conducting fitness classes from rooftops, writing joyful messages on sidewalks, telling stories, showcasing their art… just imagine all the gifts that aren’t being shared!
There has never been a better time to share your gifts, and you never know who you will impact or inspire when you do.
And you don’t have to be an artist or crafts person either. What are you good at? What fires you up? Maybe you can share tips on budgeting or getting your finances in order during a pandemic. Maybe you can teach people how to fix things around the house. Share your cooking tips, gardening tips, workout schedules, how to tie nautical knots or make sugar sculptures… whatever weird and wonderful thing you love, get it out there.
7 – Uncover your true purpose
A lot of people during these times ask, “Why am I here? What do I truly want? What impact do I want to have?”
Remember that this pandemic will end. It will. We don’t have a timeline yet, but researchers are working around the clock on vaccines, treatments and protocols, and they will be successful.
But will things go back to “normal”? Hopefully not! What I mean by that is, hopefully we all use this global pause to decide what we want to bring to the new normal that will emerge when this ends.
This is why it’s a great time to be having these conversations with yourself, especially around the impact you want to have because when we talk about purpose, it’s really impact that we’re talking about. I believe that we’re all put on this earth with a purpose, but whether you share that belief or not, we can all choose to create a purpose for ourselves by being intentional about how we show up and the impact we create.
For me, as I ask myself these questions, a lot comes up around children. I want to help create a world with more compassion, where we value the humanness in ourselves and others, where we trust and respect each other, and where we all hold safe spaces for each other. I have come to realize that I can have the strongest impact by bringing more coaching into schools to create a more human education system where children can tap into their full selves and bring that forward, where emotional growth is valued just as strongly as intellectual growth, and where the objective is to develop the whole person, not just to achieve good test scores.
I am now exploring initiatives around this and it has me feeling excited about what’s to come, but also excited about the opportunity I have right now to dig into the possibilities.
What gets you excited? What impact do you want to have? What new normal do you want to create? If this is something you struggle with, here is some insight that can help you determine your life purpose.
8 – Create real impact
Creating impact isn’t just about the future. In fact, the greatest impact you can have is right here and now. After all, if COVID-19 has taught us nothing, it’s that the only moment we ever truly control is the present one.
Ask yourself, “How do I want to show up during these times? What impact do I want to have?”
Here’s something to play with: Picture in your mind the people who depend on you. What are their concerns, challenges and fears? What do they want and hope for? Who do they need you to be today? Picture yourself being the person they deserve you to be. Commit to being that person (as long as it feels right and fuels you). If you can be more of service to someone, then do it :-)
I love this quote from Philip Shepherd, author of Radical Wholeness: “You can be in presentation mode or you can be present.”
When you’re with your kids, are you in presentation mode, telling them what’s on the agenda today and what you expect from them, or are you being present, checking in with where they’re at and what they might need to be able to fulfill expectations? At work, are you diving into the conference call with talking points and problems to be solved, or are you starting from compassion, checking in on everyone’s situation and making sure you’re all in the head space to be productive in this moment?
Different times demand we show up in different ways in order to have a positive impact that strengthens relationships, families and teams for the future.
Choose to be real over right. This is the time to drop our masks and be the safe space for others to drop theirs. Be real, be human, be more transparent than ever with the people around you, whether it’s your family, loved ones, your colleagues, your team… transparency and vulnerability are needed, and they’re how we build and share strength. It’s okay to say you don’t have all the answers and you are trying to figure it out. Enlist the help of the people around you to co-create the next steps.
9 – Lean into the Divine
Remember, no one has all the answers. Take it one moment at a time. Tune into yourself, and ask, “What is my next best step right now?” Surrender to the answer. This is the best we can do during these times.
Faith isn’t just a religious thing. Faith is trusting that the next moment will come, and that you’ll be able to create from whatever it brings. Lean into that. When you do, it frees you from worry over what the next 5, 10, 100 steps will be, allowing you to just do your best with the one in front of you.
Of course the future matters, and of course we need to plan for it. Leaning into the Divine means letting the circumstances around you unfold rather than fight against them. It means being flexible in your plans, creating from what comes up, and course correcting when needed. If a tree breaks in the wind, it stops growing. Instead, trees bend with the wind when they need to, but they never stop growing towards the sun.
Focus your energy on the steps in front of you. Take a breath. Notice what comes up. Feel your way into the next step, then the next and the next…
10 – Keep asking important questions
We are all asking important questions right now. This pause will be lifted in some ways, but how we are being during the pause will shape how we re-enter.
Keep asking yourself powerful questions and be real in your answers. Ask, “What else is possible? How can I make this happen FOR me? What do I want my new normal to look like? What am I valuing? What do I not miss?”
Stay curious. You may be amazed at what you truly do not miss and no longer need to carry with you. You might uncover new passions or values that will help you create joy. You might come face to face with something you need to strengthen or overcome.
When you are brave enough to really examine those cracks in your foundation, you give yourself the gift of self awareness. The more you investigate, the more you stop fighting against what comes up, the more you explore what fuels you and take steps to bring it forward, the more you will see those cracks begin to heal themselves.
Everything that is happening is happening FOR you, but you have to be open to the potential. Observe, learn and create from it. You can come out of this stronger.