It Wasn’t Supposed to Be This Way
We are living in the midst of a moment.
In just the last week it seems like the world has both turned upside down and come to a grinding halt and we now find ourselves sitting at home watching news report after news report about where things may be headed and how long this all may last. And there is fear and anxiety, but there is pain and grief as well. And all of this exists on multiple, complex levels.
On one level you have the natural and obvious anxiety, grief and pain about the virus itself. How many more will be sick? How many will die? Will I lose someone I love? Will I get sick, myself? How did this even happen? Why were we so unprepared for any of this? Why hasn’t more been done to stop it before it got this bad? Anxiety, pain and grief exists on another level about the economy and the long-term impact that this could have on our families and our communities if businesses remain shut down and many are unable to work. These are all questions and thoughts that may be swirling in your mind and heart. I posted a video about how to deal with that anxiety which you can access here.
But then there is another level too. Because there is grief and pain and disappointment over so many things that were planned and looked forward to. Cancellations of trips for birthdays or vacations. Postponements of weddings, concerts and other events. Entire sports seasons that just ended. And all of this seemed to happen in a moment. Everything was on track and then, just an instant later, everything is gone. And it leaves us not knowing what to do except sit and watch the news come in and simply say “it wasn’t supposed to be this way.”
Whatever way you are feeling is ok. If you’re anxious and angry over the virus, it’s ok. If you're anxious about the economic situation, it's ok. If you’re angry, or disappointed or grieving lost experiences, it’s ok. Because what can happen in situations like this is that we can start to feel guilty, for example, that we’re experiencing disappointment over a trip when people are fighting for their lives. But the reality is, it isn’t even really about the event itself, is it? And it isn’t about the disease itself either. It’s about the experience we were going to have, the memories we were going to create, the relationships we were going to build and strengthen. And the grief and pain we’re feeling is made even stronger by the amount of sickness and death we see because we start to wonder what else we’ll lose. We question whether we’ll ever have the chance to make those memories, or even see those people we love again.
Because the moment we’re living in is a profound disruption. We were in a pattern, moving forward on auto-pilot expecting that things were going to continue to be as they had always been and then this virus came along and disrupted that. And that disruption has forced us to stop and sit and it has forced us to confront auto-pilot mode. It’s forced us to confront the fact that any control we thought we had was the weakest of illusions. It’s forced us to confront these questions and anxieties and this pain that we now realize were always just beneath the surface. It’s just that, for most of us, we’d gotten really good at distracting ourselves from them.
We’re in a moment of profound disruption. But sometimes disruption is the only way to bring about creation. I often tell my clients that my job isn’t to hypnotize them, because they’ve already done that to themselves. They’re already in a trance and the reason they come to see me is that that trance isn’t working for them. So my job is to dehypnotize them by disrupting that trance and then helping them to create a better one for themselves. Disruption is sometimes the only way to ignite the creative part of ourselves to dream up something better.
And that creation works on an individual level. How can we be creative in this moment with our relationships? What can we create for our businesses that can help us better serve more people? What can we create and do artistically and intellectually that can open our minds and others’ minds to new ways of being in the world?
And then that creation works on a macro level as well. Because it’s not just us individually that have been living in a trance. We, as a society, as a nation, as a world, have been living in ways that simply don’t work for us. And if we use the disruption of this moment as an opportunity, maybe we can dream up something better. What kind of society do we want to be? What do we want to reprioritize? What kind of ideals do we want to adhere to?
There are some that keep referring to the future as “when things are back to normal”. But my question for you is, “is that what we really want?” Do we want to go back to auto-pilot trances where we look forward to occasional moments where memories can be made through shared experiences? Or do we want something new? Something better for ourselves and the people we love?
One of my favorite authors/speakers/podcasters is Rob Bell who will often end his talks by giving a benediction to his audience. And, while i don’t normally do this, it feels right in this moment. So may you, in the midst of anxiety and grief and pain and disappointment, may you find moments of joy and peace and hope. May you reconnect with your loved ones and with yourself. May the disruption spark within you creation like you have never known. May it propel us towards a better, more loving, more caring world. And may we all be safe, well, healthy and whole.