Here is one email among many that are all requesting the same thing: peace of mind. Here is the email and how I responded.
Dear Dr. Sylvia,
I am almost frozen with fear. The news is awful, my health is fair, my finances are poor and my ability to look at this time as a “learning experience” is dwindling.
I can barely talk with my employees and stay positive. At home I have the patience of an inch worm.
How the hell do I climb out of this dark place? It looks like the bad news will keep going and going. I need to know what is happening in the world; however I really want to stop getting information since none of it looks good.
I keep talking to myself and attempting to think positive thoughts. Nothing is working. Any suggestions?
Unhappy and unlucky
Dear Unhappy and unlucky,
You are speaking for most of us in these days of walking in the unknown. Is this a moment in time or is it Armageddon?
What comes to mind is what my dear teacher, Ram Dass used to say when asked what to do if things are really bad.
He said if it is just a moment in time “I center myself, do my best to be of service and live in the moment.”
And if it is the worst of times, he said “I center myself, do my best to be of service and live in the moment.”
I know this may not make you happy and lucky, and yet, it is the best advice I have right now.
If you are in a leadership position or an emerging leader you do need to take some deep breaths shake off the fear and be a model for others to emulate.
Here are a few suggestions:
Take time to be quiet and recalibrate.
Fear has a way of expanding into the “what if” area and the end result is “we’re all gonna die.” Then we give up, curl into a ball and wait for the worst to happen. Recalibrate. Rethink. Reengage. Yes, we’re all gonna die sooner or later. However, that is NOT the issue at hand.
It’s about finding the “pony in the manure pile.” (If you don’t know the story it’s about a little boy who is sure the pony he dreamed of getting for his birthday is there, yes there somewhere in that pile of manure).
Check your emotional temperature:
Often fear in the present is part of your past story or else part of the story from your ancestors. You do not have to repeat the story of generations gone by in the same way they did. Think about those in your family who had to endure war or a recession or serious health issues.
How did they handle trying times? Learn from them. You can change the pattern to a more positive one once you become a detective and ask about their stories.
Focus on a routine for your health:
Think before you eat or drink just to gain comfort. Sometimes the best comfort is a piece of fruit rather than a martini or glass of wine. Indulge if you must in the mashed potatoes or macaroni or pasta that remind you of easier childhood times.
However, make sure you drink water, and again, from childhood, eat your veggies.
Reach out and touch someone:
In this virtual world where social distancing is a way of being responsible please find someone you can email or call (hearing someone’s voice can be super comforting) and just say two things, ask how they are and then ask how you can be of help.
Doing for others is a way of feeling good about you too.
There is a quote attributed to Eleanor Roosevelt that sums up what you, as a leader need to remember today and tomorrow and then the next day “Women (all people) are like tea bags. You can’t tell how strong they are until they are in hot water.”
This is a time to think about how you and you and you, all of us begin to understand that “we’re all in it together and no one wins unless we all do.”
We are hopefully finally moving from a ‘me” to a “we” world that is just now coming into focus. Let’s all do our part and not let fear freeze us.
To your success,