Self-Compassion in Times of COVID

A man cannot be comfortable without his own approval.” Mark Twain

I am used to spending time working on personal projects. I do not do the nine-to-five schedule nor do I think I would be able to sustain it. I am motivated by intentions and creation. I can work 24/7 in something that gives me life or has a higher meaning. But put me on the merry-go-around of “clocking in-clocking out” and I will lose my mind.

I am a multipotentialite, a person with many interests working simultaneously on a bundle of big ideas as if her life depended on it. There were times in which I wanted badly to be “normal” which just meant being comfortable with traditional career paths and standards of living.  People around me not only knew what they wanted to become from early on in life, they went for the whole shebang – got married, had kids, bought a house, and kept a regular routine. I could not. For me, the regular path was not enough, or I was not good enough for it.

I have invested an incredible amount of hours into everything that I love doing or learning and another bunch envisioning next projects. Although my curiosity takes me down the rabbit hole sometimes, there are constants that hold everything together: imagination, wonder, beauty, and a quality of innocence. Those are the pillars in my every pursuit, and/or artistic expression.

My creative side is balanced by an academic one fond of researching a variety of subjects. Basically, everything I do aims for creative and multidisciplinary connections. I wonder about existence and go around exploring visible and invisible worlds collecting evidence of the meaning of life.

Which is why I a mystified by my lack of responsiveness in these COVID times. I have more time than ever, and yet I find it extremely hard to work on the many to-do-lists filling up my desk.

I have a hard time defining my way to meaning and while my mind agrees that my motives and intentions are sound, they do not reach my heart.

Grasping the meaning of life and dealing with unanswerable questions

The violent change thrusted upon us is making impermanence more evident than ever, and when our humanity reckons the fragility of life’s plans and dreams and see them turned to dust unexpectedly, one can be lost in the storm of big questions.

Has COVID joined forces with mindless habits responsible for disconnecting me from who I am and what gives me life, or is it just making evident that I have been drifting for a long time?

The latent presence of death is a powerful force to make one mindful of how well our potential for fulfillment have been spent and how one interacts with life.  Perhaps, it entices us to explore matters that might beget regrets if not taken care of like reviving dreams long forgotten.

Beyond the pressing day-today issues we face, COVID had left a deep impression in me. I long to unveiled that which is pressing for “something more” and help enlighten my “moving forward…”

Healing through Self-Compassion and Acceptance

That the pandemic can have a negative impact on our mental health is an understatement. I did not realize until now that the lost sense of safety and control over our lives could be rolling us through the stages of mourning: shock, denial, anger, and depression. Our underlying fears and vulnerabilities are exacerbated, and we seem to be constantly wrestling with self-preservation issues and the desire to regain or maintain control.  With all that stuff going on who has time to dream!

Part of the healing process is just acknowledging that no one has all the answers and we are doing the best we can. People, as well as communities, need moments to breathe before they can give a name to what they are experiencing, create meaning and move on.

We have seen many heroic efforts, creative responses and compassionate acts born from the openness and kindness of strangers taking care of people and fostering a sense of belonging and inclusion that is so much needed in our societies.

Such an inspiration to see the world coming together!

Not only challenges can disturb us, sometimes facing “greatness” in others can feel overwhelming too. We might feel we are not up to them and become paralyzed. The comparison gap can send our mind bereft, flashing messages to be scared and worried, and overemphasizing our vulnerabilities and weakness, thus overriding our ability to act, pivot and imagining ways out or in.

A first step to effectively work around these is to tune inward and create the time and space for self-connection and self-awareness.

  • Acknowledging and witnessing our emotions without judgement can helps us move a step up. I know is hard, specially, if like me, you are an unmerciful critic beaten yourself up at every little thing.   Remember you are human and deserve the same compassion you are willing to offer others.
  • Sharing or/and asking for help. Offering caring words or just listening can help us heal, or at least move into the right path to do so. How many times have you been surprised of hearing somebody say: “I thought it was just me!?” And helping somebody makes us feel good and capable. Why then deprive others of that wonderful energy!
  • Our beliefs and habits of thinking run wild and unnoticed most of the time, specially if we are worried. Stop and listening to our own mental discourse can bring some clarity into what is bothering us or what we could do to tackle it.  Remind yourself you are not your thoughts or emotions, there is a powerful you within that is capable to move you forward even just a little.
  • Expressing gratitude for those things that are working for us.  When under the grip of fear and uncertainty, we might lose sight of those things that bring us comfort and we take for granted. Do you have a roof over your head? Are you breathing without a ventilator? Your kids, are they pestering you? Great they are alive and safe! And so on…

It is an illusion

The idea that responsible adults should have everything figured out and need to stay strong or hold things together is a fallacy.

Of course, some people might have better habits than others and clearer goals, they might be blessed with more supporting environments and circumstances. Yet, as far as we know, we are all humans, and being such grants imperfection and a variety of tough learning situations.

Life does not come with instructions- or mine are missing! Putting together the many and complex components requires as much “letting go” as deliberate action, not to mention a huge chunk of faith. When we think we have figured it out, an invisible hand comes along and stirs the pot and of we go having to relearn the game all over again.

Perhaps, life is just about fumbling and experimenting our way through it, and being delightfully surprised by its beauty, mysteries, and gifts.

“Life is a journey to be experienced, not a problem to be solved.” – Winnie the Pooh

Thank you Pooh! That makes more sense!

Image Credits: Featured-Pixabay/ 2-Guapita50 in Pixabay /3. designecologist in Pexel/ 4. Michel Berube in Pexels /5- Giphy

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