We are all fighting a difficult battle and are unified by our collective suffering. These unrelenting circumstances directly force us to face our fragility, vulnerability, and mortality. The lack of uncertainty and loss of control puts many of us in a perpetual state of anxiety, hopelessness, and helplessness. Our mind craves safety, security, and comfort, instead it is met with danger, confusion, and ambiguity. We just sit and wait. There tends to be more time to think about and experience our indefinite prolonged period of discomfort.
When we are in a state of vulnerability, we yearn for things to change and become more manageable and comfortable. It can also open us up to consider effortful ways to improve ourselves, be our best selves, and live our best life. This is a prime opportunity to contemplate who we are and who we desire to be.
We cannot predict the future and there are so many mixed messages looming about COVID-19 and what direction it will take. It makes it difficult to get grounded amidst the chaos. We do not have any other choice but to be mindful and live in the present moment. We can facilitate healing by intermittently finding moments of control, noticing the silver linings, directing ourselves toward acquiring purpose and meaning, and proactively making improvements toward living a better life.
A list of questions that will help thrust you toward a growth mindset:
- How has my life changed (e.g., socially, emotionally, spiritually, etc.) because of COVID-19?
- What have I gotten used to that I didn’t expect that I would have (e.g., not eating out, working from home, etc.)?
- Do I feel from week to week that I have been acclimating and adjusting better or worse? Why do I think that’s the case? What would I like to see going forward? What effort will I make to facilitate that?
- What have I learned about myself during this circumstance that reinforced what I already knew about myself or surprised me in either a positive or negative way?
- What did I have the most difficult time giving up?
- How did I react and cope with it?
- Was it in a way that I am proud of or have shame or regret over? Why?
- Has this experience made me aware of any habit(s) that I need to reinforce or shift? In what way?
- Has this situation given me clarity about an aspect of my life that wasn’t working all that well? What wasn’t working and why?
- Is there something that has come out of this circumstance that I want to sustain in my life even after it is over?
- Has this experience gotten me to do things that I haven’t had time to do or don’t ordinarily do? For example, have I tapped into my athlete, artist, student, environmentalist, activist, charitable, or healer side?
- When I retrospectively look back at this pandemic in the future, what are things I think I will feel most proud about regarding the way I coped or reacted to this situation?
- Has my mood fluctuated throughout this time? What particular moods got evoked? Which got evoked most often? Why was this the case (e.g., it triggered something from my past, rubbed up against my core values, etc.)?
- How might I meet these moods now going into the future with a new level of compassion and healing?
- Has this situation taught me anything new that I’ll take with me into the future (e.g., to be more cognizant and responsible of my finances, not taking my health for granted, that human connection is more important than I realized, etc.)?
- What were my thoughts, feelings, and reactions to the social distancing rules/policies? What highly influenced all of that?
- Did I find myself being disappointed and/or judgmental during the pandemic? In what way (e.g., the way in which the government has and is currently handling it, the manner in which others are reacting and acting in response to the rules/policies, the way that people ought to be coping through it all, etc.)?
- In the past when I experienced an unexpected situation or crisis, what are some healthy and unhealthy ways I coped?
- How did I react to the lack of control and uncertainty this pandemic brought up? In the future, would I prefer to cope with situations like these just as I had or differently?
- If I would prefer to cope with it differently, what would different look like? What prevented me from coping that particular way? What will help ensure that I do in the future?
- How am I connecting to my strength and resilience during this time?
- Was I able to remain compassionate toward myself and others despite how challenging I found this situation to be? If no, was the lack of compassion directed toward me or others? What got in the way of facilitating that? What do I need to do to ensure that I’m remaining compassionate in the future?
- Was I able to remain kind to myself and others despite how challenging I found this situation to be? If no, was the lack of kindness directed toward me or others? What got in the way of facilitating that? What do I need to do to ensure that I’m exercising kindness in the future?
- During this circumstance, are there new and useful ways that I learned to convey compassion, comfort, and support toward myself? Toward others?
- Have any personal relationships been strengthened or negatively impacted by this crisis? If so, in what way?
- Has my overall outlook or perspective about the world, people, or myself changed in any fundamental way? Why? In what specific way?
- Are there some things that I used to stress about or negatively react to that I no longer have the same reaction to? What are those things? Why?
- Have my core values shifted in any fundamental way? If yes, how?
- What goals and objectives has this pandemic motivated me to prioritize?
- What am I feeling most gratitude for during this time? How do I want to be grateful for going into the future?
- What has impressed me most about my own and other people’s thoughtful responses to this situation?
- What am I allowing myself during this time that I might not ordinarily give myself room for (e.g., permission for imperfection, be emotionally transparent, etc.)? How has that experience been for me? What did I learn from it? What lessons from it will I take with me into the future?
- What am I doing to create structure, purpose and meaning for myself during this time? How would I assess that it’s going? Are there changes that would be helpful for me to make?
- What am I noticing about the way my wishes or needs are evolving week to week?
- How do I think society will transform from this experience?
- How do I hope society will transform from this experience?
- How has my life transformed from this experience?
- What life lesson(s) has been most paramount for me and which one(s) do I hope to take with me into the future?
When suffering is present it can be a prime time to invite and move toward personal growth, enhancement, and a growth mindset. In order to heal, we must notice, allow, and feel. Let us collectively share in our evolution and notice with intentionality moments of gratitude and fortitude. Let us look toward and create transformation, progress, and significant change for ourselves and the world around us.