Reflections On How to Navigate the Way Forward Amid the Covid-19 Crisis
Updated: Apr 10, 2020
Great challenges always
Lately, I have been reflecting on life transitions and crossing thresholds, and what that has meant for me, my coaching clients and my business. I thought it would be beneficial to share some of my thoughts on the subject as many of us navigate our lives and professional career in the face of the global COVID-19 crisis.
When I Googled the definition of a threshold, here's what I found: the sill of a doorway, any place or point of entering or beginning the point at which a stimulus is of sufficient intensity to begin to produce an effect. For context, my reflections on crossing thresholds have been more aligned with the "any place or point of entering or beginning" AND "the point at which a stimulus is of sufficient intensity to begin to produce an effect" definitions.
Just like you, I had great expectations about executing my strategic plans to achieve specific personal and professional goals this year. Most of us have come to accept the fact that 2020 is not going as we had hoped or planned.
The reality of COVID-19 has ushered into our collective consciousness and heart a tremendous amount of unrest, fear, anxiety, pain, loss for those who have experienced the death of a loved one, grief that most of us have experienced at some level over the loss of a loved one, loss of jobs, closures of businesses, school closing resulting in high school graduations as we have known them to be have been delayed, isolation and loneliness, suicides, increase in spousal abuse and child abuse and so much more.
This collective crisis has ripped off the band-aid of what we have perceived as 'safety' and rendered each of us to answer this question, "How can I move forward in the face of this reality?"
The COVID-19 crisis serves a stimulus. Its intensity has had a profound effect on how we are able to experience our daily lives. It has also provided us with an opportunity to pause and reflect on what we've been doing for the sake of routine or safety and whether or not how we were showing up was a true reflection of our best self.
It is true that once we get an all-clear to open our communities as we receive guidance from public health leaders and political leaders, many of us will make attempts to go back to living life as we did prior to COVID-19. The challenge with this approach is that we have been ushered into a new normal that we didn't create, and many of our old ways of BEING won't cut it in the new normal.
Not only has the world been changed by this crisis, individually we have been changed. It might not be so obvious to many of us while we are mandated to "shelter in place" but it will become obvious as we begin to actively engage with the world again. We have been ushered into a period of transition whether we accept it or not.
According to renewperpsecitves.org , " When we talk about life transitions, we are referring to the act of experiencing a change. Change comes in all forms. It could be the milestones of age or moving into a new environment. You may find yourself stepping in or out of a relationship, or perhaps becoming something new, like a parent. Sometimes change can come suddenly and tragically, such as the loss of a loved one. One thing you can count on life to do is change, and adapting is not always easy."
The organization asserts, "There are certain life transitions that may leave us feeling overwhelmed, anxious, depressed, or uncertain. These shifts can make us question our beliefs, our personal values… even ourselves. It’s natural to feel resistant to change, but how we deal with it will determine how it affects our lives."
After reflecting on personal life changing adversities that seemed to pull the rug from underneath my feet which caused me to initially feel spiritually, emotionally, mentally, physically and financially unstable, I realized that these experiences have provided me with an opportunity to create a defined pivot in my life and business in order to serve in ways in which gives me the greatest pleasure.
It started with my decision to create a FREE 90-Day Launch Pass for my BraveHeart Women Rising Leaders Circle. My goal of doing this is to provide a safe space for women to gather with like-minded women who are navigating the uncertainty that we all feel while at the same time bolstering their courage, resilience and grit which is always necessary in periods of unexpected change. While providing them FREE access to training that helps them to continue to SKILL UP during this transition and training that allows them to pause and respect what they are thinking and feeling about themselves, their lives and what's most important to them as they navigate their way forward.
From that decision, I've decided to host my training "The Way Forward" in April to help individuals create a roadmap that will help them to get clear about their present reality and how they can create shifts in their perspective to create and seize opportunities in our "new normal." The fee for this training will be $20.
I'm in the process of creating a 1-1 4 weeks coaching program for individuals who want individualized help and support as they navigate their way forward in our "new normal".
My focus of helping people to level up their life, career or business is now geared towards helping those I serve develop resilience and grit. Everything that I have been doing in my business, first as a side hustle to going full-time two years ago looking back seems to have been preparing me for this pivot.
When we are faced with an unexpected disruption, unless it is a situation that involves immediate physical danger or harm, it's important that step back, pause and reflect so that we can stabilize our thoughts, emotions and actions.
I encourage you to reflect on your answers to the following questions:
1. What's happening in my life that I don't want to face?
2. What do I think will happen if I face what I'm avoiding?
3. What do I feel will happen if I fact what I'm avoiding?
4. Is avoiding this "thing" I don't want to face making me feel stronger and capable?
5. If not, what is the fear that I have about facing it I need to acknowledge to myself?
6. What can I learn from this experience?
7. How can learning this better prepare and position me for managing the present with courage and confidence while helping me to look forward to a brighter future?
8. What can I do now that I haven't been doing?
9. How can I be more compassionate and less judgmental of myself and others?
10. How can I serve others right now in a way that won't be detrimental to me or my loved ones?
11. Who do I need to reach out to for help, support, training etc. to keep me focused on moving forward?
12. How would my best self respond to this situation?
Immediate Steps You Can Take Now
As with any transition or disruption we experience, we want to know "What Can I Do NOW?"
Here are a few actions that remain keystone practices that I initiate when facing any disruption in my life.
1. Monitor and Stabilize Your Self-Talk
Conversations we have with our self influences our interpretation and the 'meaning' we associate with any experience. These conversations often determine if we adopt a 'resistance' or 'acceptance' energy toward the event. Using positive inner language doesn't put us in denial of our circumstances, instead it helps us to come to terms with our circumstances and focus on solutions instead of allowing our overactive imagination paint pictures in our minds of all the worst possible scenarios we can think of happening in our lives. This doesn't mean that we completely get rid of our disempowering self-talk. It does mean that you will begin to train your brain to think a certain way when faced with difficulty. That is a game-changer. Believe me.
2. Sort Out Your Thoughts
During the aftermath of my mom's death at the age of 13, I realized nine months after this fact that my anger about losing my mom had began to shift how I saw myself and how I was showing up. For the most part, I had a happy childhood. But, after my mom's death, I was slowly becoming a very angry teen. That wasn't okay with me. I didn't envision myself growing up to be an angry woman. The way that I realized this came down to my practice of keeping a diary since the age of nine. My diary was a safe space where I could write down my feelings and thoughts without criticism and judgment.
After reading through my diary entries after my mom's death, I became aware of how my language had changed and how I was changing as a result of this adversity. This grace of awareness at this pivotal point in my life would serve as the stimulus for me shifting my focus on the loss of my mom to focusing what she had actually developed within me in the time I had with her. I began an exercise regimen to lose the weight that I'd gained from the emotional eating habit I was developing. Over the course of five months, I had created shifts in my physical body, my thinking and attitude towards life and my future. This practice of sorting out my thoughts continue to serve me forty-five years later. Journaling your truth instead of keeping it bottled up on the inside of you will provide you with the opportunity to get really honest with yourself about what you are thinking about any unplanned change in your life.
3. Acknowledge Your Feelings
According to Psychology Today, a fundamental difference between feelings and emotions is that feelings are experienced consciously, while emotions manifest either consciously or subconsciously.
Feelings happen in the body as a result of the influence of our five senses, while emotions form in our conscious or subconscious mind as a result of the meaning we've associated with our beliefs, thoughts and feelings about an experience. Take time to observe the physical sensations you experience as a result of a disruption in your life. Put pen to paper and describe your feelings in detail. This helps you to step back from the chaos or panic of a sudden life transition, and begin to clarify what you need to move forward.
4. Be Grateful
Once I began to identify what I was grateful for about my mom and identifying key traits which I admired in her, my attitude of gratitude helped me to focus on how I could express similar traits that my mom seemed to have in spades, such as her ability to maintain a fierce determination to overcome challenges, her willingness to help other women with children in our neighborhood, her keen eye for completing tasks with a standard of excellence, her farmer's work ethic and optimism which always inspired her to look for ways to improve our working class household, year after year.
Even after the devastating loss of my brother Arthur and the grief in her heart, she had signed up and was attending GED classes during the evenings several months prior to her untimely death. Shifting my focus from what I'd loss to how I had been blessed with having my mom in my life for those 13 years and how by adopting these traits they could serve me later on in my adult life was the primary cause of the shift in my attitude. This moment in my life is what author Marcus Buckingham refers to as a "strong moment."
5. Be Of Service
In the midst of the COVID=19 crisis, we are seeing all around the world how the human spirit refuses to be limited by "shelter in place", "social distancing" and "self quarantine." We witness people quarantined joining in and singing and dancing on balconies and rooftops all around the world. We are seeing artists, influences and regular folks like you and I come together on social media to share hope and encouragement to others.
We are witnessing how the members of the medical profession, grocery store workers, bus drivers, delivery drivers, fast food workers, garbage collectors, sanitation workers, armed services personnel, etc, get us through this crisis, making sure we have the essentials to survive on and even risking their health.
We are witnessing the best of the human spirit when we see that each of us has so much more in common than our differences.
It is in this spirit that I'm using what I have to create pivots in my business and how I can show up in service with my gifts, talents, knowledge and experience.
When this is all over with and you look back on the event in your life, what will make you feel proud about how you show up? Whatever is your answer, begin it now if you haven't already. If you have, I want to thank you for inspiring hope in the hearts of those you are helping.
We will rise from the ashes of this event, together.
This crisis will certainly be written about for decades. It was completely unexpected. It has been disruptive. And, until we have a vaccine, it will remain disruptive. This is a fact.
It is through the lens of this fact that we must remain steadfast towards doing what we must do to keep ourselves, our loved ones and those we interact act with on a regular basis safe.
While we take these actions, we are also provided with this opportunity to create a 'new normal' so that we are equipped moving forward to navigate unplanned disruptions in our lives.
It is only natural for us to wonder how to move forward in the face of unforeseen circumstances. It is natural for us to grieve after any loss. It's important that we acknowledge and accept the truth of what we think and feel. Dismissing or denying our truth does not serve our mental and emotional well-being.
By focusing our attention on developing the resilience, determination and grit that is necessary for long-term success and navigating uncertainty we prepare and position ourselves to build a toolkit of skills that serve us now and in the future.
We are not defined by our circumstances. We are defined by how we respond to our circumstances. It's up to each of us to make sure that this chapter in our life story is one that we're proud of and worthy of being told to the next generations that will come in our families, communities, country and world.