This was an article I sent out as part of my Self-Care newsletters early in this pandemic. Given we are about to go into very demanding restrictions and lockdowns here in Victoria, Australia, I thought it was worth re-visiting it. What kind of people do we want to BE in these next six weeks? And what skills, strategies and inner resources are we going to need to BE that kind of person? We need to believe that we can be empowered adults and take back the control that COVID-19 has taken from us. In a very real sense only we can do it.
We are all fatigued with this crisis. We are worried, anxious and many people are at breaking point. As I’ve said in many of my blog posts over recent weeks, it feels almost arrogant to be suggesting that people need to find that inner strength and step into their adult self, given the many pressures they are experiencing. On the other hand, what are the alternatives – overwhelm, depression, high anxiety – to mention a few of them? The hope we have is that this lockdown will lift the weight of this virus on our Victorian community and we can begin to rebuild our lives. But we can begin to take back some control even now.
Tony Schwartz and Emily Pines wrote an article titled “Coping with Fatigue, Fear and Panic During a Crisis” that has so much valuable stuff in it that I wanted to share some it with you. I have been following Tony Schwartz for years. He runs The Energy Project and introduced me to why we need to manage our energy as a crucial leadership skill. Manage your energy, he said, not your time.
We Are Infected By Two Viruses
Tony and Emily make the point that “we are dealing with two contagions – the virus itself and the emotions it generates. Negative emotions are every bit as contagious as the virus, and they are also toxic. Fatigue, fear and panic undermine our ability to think clearly and creatively, manage our relationships effectively, focus attention on the right priorities, and make smart, informed choices.”
There is also a physiological impact on our bodies of those negative emotions, one of which is to weaken our immune systems. We certainly don’t need to be fronting this virus with a weakened immune system.
Tony and Emily tell us that we have three “different selves” responding to this threatening reality.
1. The Overwhelmed Self.
This is “the most defenceless, vulnerable and childlike part of us.”
2. The Survival Self.
This is the defensive self that rushes to protect and defend us “reactively, impulsively, haphazardly and often counter-productively.”
3. The Adult Self.
This is “a more capable adult self.”
Which One Are You Right Now?
It would be helpful to stop right here and ask ourselves where we are at this moment. We need to move to our Adult Self, but at this stage most of us may still be living out of our Survival or Overwhelmed Self. To move from there to our Adult Self, they give us steps we need to take.
Step 1 to being an empowered adult.
We need to become aware of our emotions, “what we are feeling at any given moment.” This is about becoming emotionally intelligent.
Step 2 to being an empowered adult.
We need to calm ourselves, and they give us a way to do that by using our breath.
Step 3 to being an empowered adult.
We need to reflect and we can begin to do that once we are calm. This allows us to step up into our Adult Self and put it back in control.
When we are living in our Adult Self we are better able to assess and evaluate the information that is coming to us. We are able to draw on our inner resources and our personal strengths to make decisions that empower us rather than having us feel overwhelmed. We gain clarity and direction for our lives and therefore gain the ability, as Tony and Emily indicate “to focus on what you have the power to influence and letting go of the rest.”
You can read the entire article here.
Take Care. Stay Safe both physically and emotionally.
If you are reading this blog and are not subscribed, you can do so here and not miss future posts.