Choose to allow what you go through to fuel your growth rather than stunt it.
- Cleo Wade, Heart Talk
My reaction to the news comes deep from within my limbic system. The immediate reaction is dependent upon two things: 1) whether the news is good or bad, and 2) the stage of grief I find myself in. Regarding COVID-19, I feel as if I have personally moved through Shock and Denial, Pain and Guilt, and am squarely into Anger and Bargaining. In this stage, my inner judge rules supreme. Last night on Facebook I found myself calling a local politician an “idiot” for his slow response in shutting down our state. More than once.
So, instead of labeling this politician in the way that I did, there were other choices available. Let’s walk through that. (Humor me, it’s going to help me to write it down.)
- News received - State shutting down, but only for 10 days
- Habitual gut reaction activated - He’s an idiot! (only in my head, not shared aloud)
- PAUSE. - This is the step I missed last night. When we pause Alexandrian “inhibition” gets to take over. I can sit instead in non-judgement of my reaction, and just be with that feeling of anger. Where did that come from? Why am I angry? Is it about this action, or is it something deeper that I’m responding to? What are my options for responding?
- Conscious Response - Now I can choose from a plethora of options to this situation. I can go ahead and write on Facebook that he’s an idiot. I can say that I think he made a bad choice to wait so long. I can empathize with him and the pressure he’s under. Maybe there are other options as well - the longer I pause, the more of them I can see.
My response to any situation, any time, gives me the opportunity to fuel my own growth or to stunt it. By shutting down my mind and heart and calling someone a name, I stunted a learning opportunity. Thanks for helping me think it through this morning.
Recently our whole country has lived in Anger and Bargaining with a strong dose of Denial. The first 4 lower stages of grief are what have been running the world. Now, a lot of us are living in Depression. That’s ok. We can sit with any of these stages, just be with ourselves, not judging, not beating ourselves up for wearing pajamas all day. Then, we have the opportunity to work through our collective grief and come out on the other side, with acceptance of whatever our new “normal” turns out to be. Stress reveals truth. We have the opportunity to learn some new truths about ourselves, to become better people, because of this experience. What will you choose?
Exercise to try:
Opportunities in Choice
- Choose a response to the story that allows you to fuel your own growth.
- Write that down. Live it in real time.
- Try this for a few days, then see what happens.