You are feeling fear and anxiety because you are human. Nothing has gone wrong here. You have a human brain. The human brain doesn’t like uncertainty. It likes to be afraid. It makes perfect sense that your brain is freaking out.
But I want to tell you a secret.
COVID-19 is not the reason you feel afraid or anxious. People’s reactions and behavior is not the reason. The stock market is not the reason. The cancellation of public events and gatherings is not the reason. The empty shelves at the grocery store is not the reason.
There is only one reason you are feeling afraid or anxious.
Because of sentences in your brain.
Let me tell you why this is great news. You are not a victim. You are not powerless. The virus does not control how you experience your life. You get to choose. Because you get to choose which sentences you want to believe.
When you believe a sentence in your brain, it creates an emotion. Right now you believe sentences that create fear and anxiety. And that’s ok.
Step 1: Feel Your Feelings
Feel the fear. Feel the anxiety.
Get out of your brain and into your body. Where is it in your body? What color is it? What shape is it? Does it move fast or slow? Is it hot or cold? Is it tight or loose? Does it spread through your body or stay in one place?
Just like when we go back to our breath in meditation…Every time your brain tries to think sentences, go back into your body. Describe what the emotion physically feels like in as much detail as possible.
Step 2: Look at the Sentences
Understand that this emotion was created by sentences in your brain. What are those sentences? Why are you choosing to believe them? Are they facts (can they be proven in a court of law)?
If they are actual facts, does focusing on them serve you?
If they are not actual facts, that means they are thoughts. All thoughts are both true and false. Right now you believe the sentence is true. How is it false? Does believing it’s true serve you?
Step 3: Decide What Sentences You Want To Believe
You get to believe anything you want. If your current sentences aren’t helping you show up the way you want to, you might want to pick new sentences. COVID-19 is here. Now what? What kind of experience do you want to have?How do you want to show up? What will you need to feel to take the actions you want to take? What will you need to believe to feel that way?
It’s a choice. If fear is helping you do the things you want to do, great. Keep it. But if the emotions you’re feeling aren’t helping you show up the way you want to… you can choose different sentences to create new emotions.
Here are a few ideas to get you started:
I know how to take care of myself and my family.
I can do hard things.
I am safe in this moment.
I always figure it out.
We have everything we need.
I get to decide how I want to show up right now.
Everything is happening exactly how it’s supposed to happen.
This is an opportunity to strengthen my relationships.
I am part of the solution.
Bonus Step: Imagining the Future
You have a lot of “What Ifs” running through your brain. You’re imagining a potential future. No matter what it is, it’s imaginary because the future hasn’t happened yet. We don’t know what’s going to happen.
If you’re going to imagine something… why choose to imagine things that create fear, anxiety, terror, panic, dread, worry, helpless, etc?
What if… there is a far worse virus in our future. But because of all the lessons we learned during the COVID-19 outbreak, we soar through it with flying colors and millions of people are saved that wouldn’t have been otherwise saved?
What if… the time you spend with your children during this period of social distancing will strengthen your relationships in ways that wouldn’t have been possible otherwise?
If you’re going to imagine… imagine something that serves you right now in this moment. Something that helps you feel gratitude. Something that helps you be present and enjoy your life right now.
We are going to get through this. Everything is going to be ok. Humans are beautiful and resilient. This is just one stop on our journey. Let’s enjoy the journey.
If you’re having a hard time navigating your emotions during this time, schedule a coaching session with me. I’ll guide you through these steps and help you create the experience you want.