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Don't buy into the BS of a Pandemic

These days, everything that we know has been changed and upended, with the future basically uncertain and unknown. Uncertainty and the unknown are already very much anxiety-provoking, add to it, feeling out-of-control and helpless. Therefore, what to do?

First: Breathe…seriously. Because this needs to be our reaction to a situation that is not an emergency but is urgent. Please note that we are not talking about a medical emergency but rather we are dealing with what “feels” like an emergency. When we breathe, deeply as in belly breathing, we are actually shifting our brains, through the manipulation of the vagus nerve by breathing, from a fight-or-flight to a rest-and-digest state. This then allows us to make effective decisions, decisions that may have enduring impact beyond the current crisis.

Second: Rate the factors that are involved in this crisis, between 1-10, with 1 being most in control and 10 being completely out of your control. You need to literally make a list of these factors so that it is out of your mind and into a physical reality, a list that you are looking at and assessing according to facts and minimizing distortions. Look at this list and arrange from lowest to highest, meaning 1 would be the factor that is most within your control.

Third: Schedule your day-to-day, and put in your “in control” list on this schedule. Maintaining a routine focuses on behaviors rather than feelings and/or thoughts. When we focus on behaviors, we then increase our internal locus of control which is our ability to feel in control and believing we can influence outcomes through our own actions.

Last, but certainly not the least, know the “BS triangle”, this is what I call the cognitive triangle, that separates our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors so that they do not perpetuate negativity in our lives. So if we were to buy into the BS of it, that’s right, I mean the bullshit of it, then all thoughts are real, all feelings are enduring, and therefore our behaviors will reflect this, i.e. negativity begets negativity. But if we were going to believe that BS means Being Smart and not bullshit, then we can have negative feelings and distorted thoughts, but we can change our behaviors so that they are positive. And positive behaviors can result in feeling better and believing in our ability to effect positive outcomes.

And in closing, one of our greatest fears when experiencing a crisis, is whether we will survive. We have to accept that surviving does not mean we will not experience difficulty or that we will be unchanged. Inevitably, we will have to experience pain. It is in fact the process of learning to tolerate this pain is what it means to survive.

“…everything can be taken away from a man, but one thing; the last of human freedoms, to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s way.” Viktor Frankl, “Man’s Search for Meaning”


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