(Second in an ongoing series, “Acceptance in the Time of Coronavirus”
The many uncertainties and unknowns of the coronavirus pandemic have heightened our fears. So many of us are engulfed in never ending “what ifs” and “what might happens”– be it our (and our loved ones’) physical and mental health, job losses, finances, or overall well-being.
These fears are formidable obstacles in being able to accept the all-encompassing “what is” of the pandemic that is necessary in order to act in our best—and safest—interests. (See my post, “How the Serenity Prayer Helps Deal with Coronavirus”)
Particularly in my business dealings, I’ve been challenged to confront the tendency in my thinking to overly focus on “Future Events Already Ruined.” (FEAR)
Hence, I worry about whether my tenants (who were mandated to cease operations) will be able to pay their rent, or at least a portion of it? Whether some will have to close shop and vacate? And so on.
While these are realistic concerns, my obsessive dwelling over them not only results in the loss of needed sleep, but to my detriment, prevents me from recognizing what steps I can take to minimize the “damage.”
That’s what fear so easily does: Freezes you in your tracks!
To avoid such paralysis, first and foremost, I have learned that I must confront and process my fears. By that, I mean address them directly, and not avoid, procrastinate or deny. (For more on these subjects, see my posts “Avoiding Avoidance” and “Letting Go of Denial”).
Here are three interrelated tools that can help process fears in the time of Coronavirus:
*Identify the Fears. In order to process your fears, you must know what they are. Many times they are known only generally because they are a master of disguise.
One of the best ways to identify this most tricky of emotions is to do a fear inquiry.
Thus, when you feel unsettled or anxious—or have shortness of breath or other physical reactions–take a moment and think about what you may be afraid of.
Is it your young children constantly getting too close to others? Your failure to wear a mask when you went to the drug store? Forgetting to wash your hands after bringing in the newspaper or mail? The possibility of being furloughed from work? Not being able to visit your elderly mother at her assisted living home? And so on. Next,
* Objectify the Fears. Take some time to separate the objective facts and truths of the underlying situations and circumstances from the hyper imagined ones. Which is to say, don’t assume, speculate or react impulsively. Instead, pause, reflect, investigate, and consult when needed.
Thus, with respect to coronavirus concerns, don’t jump to the “future events already ruined” syndrome that you or your loved ones are going to get ghastly ill, need hospitalization, not get a respirator, or ??? Instead, try to
* Stay in the Moment. Deal with what is real now, not what might happen tomorrow. Any method or format you use is fine. Disregard all the “mights” and “could bes” that only stir up your fears. Trust that you will be able to handle whatever may happen tomorrow—just like you have in the past.
Through this process, your coronavirus fears will subside.
With respect to my tenants, my fears lessened as I more fully recognized that: a) only several thus far had not paid their rent; b) I had screened them carefully for their creditworthiness; c) legislation had been passed that would help them financially; and, d) I could be more pro-active by reaching out and offering rent deferrals to those who needed it.
Are my fears over? Not by any means. Do I have others? Certainly. But when I remember to use the above tools to process my fears, their impact on my well-being—and serenity—is much, much less.
I would love to hear about how you’ve dealt with your fears during this time.
In the meantime, remember to
Let It Go—and Accept “What Is!”
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