WARNING – this is a Coronavirus post. However, please note that this post is NOT meant to drive you into a COVID-19 depression or have you locking yourself in a zombie apocalypse bunker. This is my attempt to put into words, how I was overcome with the emotion, Fear, and what I was able to do to pull myself out from behind my bed covers and face this emotion.
Over the weekend, I started losing the mental battle to the Coronavirus.
- While outside on what was a beautiful day, I was thinking about if any of my family currently had “it”
- While sitting at a restaurant celebrating a friend’s birthday, I was thinking about needing to wash my hands, my son’s hands and my daughter’s hands (my wife can handle her own).
- While taking a trolley back from the restaurant, I was thinking about whether or not someone with the virus had touched the seats
- While driving back home, I was thinking about my parents and how they would handle the sickness
These types of thoughts ravaged my brain, non-stop. Returning from our trip on Sunday afternoon, I continued to worry about my family and what our future looked like when the virus took up fulltime residence in the states. I even contemplated pulling my kids out of school and fleeing town for the “backcountry” in our Airstream. The mind ravaging continued into Monday and I am ashamed to admit that I spent nearly 3 hours reading all sorts of coronavirus news, canceling or rescheduling in-person meetings for the week, thinking about what groceries we needed at home and generally being overcome with coronavirus related fear.
At this point, I was feeling queasy. My thoughts were now manifesting themselves into the physical (it was either this or due to the fact my son was home with a stomach bug). Whatever the case, I had reached an unacceptable tipping point. I wasn’t going to let this virus “defeat me” anymore.
First course of action, get the hell outside and enjoy the sun. After sweating out “some badness”, I returned to my desk to try and “be productive” again. With the urge too great to click on my web browser and fire up some more news, I decided I wasn’t ready to be near my computer or phone.
Next course of action – meditate. My meditation lasted around 25 minutes and consisted mainly of me “sitting in the muck” of my fear. It wasn’t the blissful sit I was hoping for, but it was what I needed. The “sit” allowed me to see how much fear had taken control of my actions. As a result, my actions where driving me away from the results I wanted (namely those in line with my values and purpose). In coaching circles, this is a framework known as the “the thinking path” and it consists of:
THINKING > FEELINGS > ACTIONS > RESULTS
Our THOUGHTS lead to our FEELINGS
Our FEELINGS drive our ACTIONS
Our ACTIONS provide our RESULTS
In hindsight, my thoughts around “coronavirus doom” were clearly leading to my overwhelming feeling of fear. This fear was driving my actions (excessive worry, news reading, time wasting). And my actions weren’t coming close to providing the results that I was looking for.
Now that I had this awareness as to where my fear was coming from (my thoughts, not the virus), what I now needed was a way to change my thinking. As luck or the universe would have it, shortly after meditating, I received a call from my good friend, Richard. A fellow coach, Richard asked me the question, “how can you use your values to meet this challenge?” This was the right question at the absolute right time, and it provided the paradigm shift I needed to re-orient the way I was currently looking at the world.
Prior to this question, my thoughts were all reactive. While being reactive, it is nearly impossible for me to live in line with my values (Freedom, Unity, Curiosity) or be a productive member of society (or even to my family). Just the mere consideration of this question elicits more creative and forward-thinking thoughts. As such, I have been asking myself frequently, “how I can use my values to meet this challenge?”
I am still working on the answer to this question, but I have come up with:
- Freedom – continue to monitor my thoughts for those predicated in fear. Awareness of my thoughts is the first line of defense against the “mind flayer” and in doing so, helps to keep me “free.” This allows for the space to work towards my other values.
- Unity – this blog post is a re-focusing of my energy into something I hope will help to bring us together, rather than drive us apart. Additionally, I have been asking myself, “what can I do to support my family, friends and neighbors, rather than be fearful of them?”
- Curiosity – what can I learn about myself during this incredibly volatile period of time?
It appears that the coronavirus is not going away anytime soon. This is our new reality. A reality with; constant news on the virus, robust hand washing and sanitizing, cancellations of events and trips, social distancing, and most concerning, friends and loved ones falling ill to the virus.
Rather than continue to fight this uncertainty and new reality, I am choosing to make peace with it and do my best to operate from a place of productivity or acceptance, rather than reactivity and fear. While I cannot control an invisible virus, I can control my mind’s reaction to it.
For me, continuing to keep my values in mind, is a way to keep the virus and fear it elicits, out.
Should you wish to vent, express your own emotions around our new reality, or provide your own methods for “keeping the fear out”, please feel free to use the comments section below.
I’d love to hear from you.
Author Bio: Dan started Fired and Free in 2017, to provide his “truth” after being fired as CEO of the company he started and led. After a diverse 17-year career in management consulting and entrepreneurship, Dan now leads 3Sixty Leadership, where he provides coaching and consulting to business owners with 5 to 500 employees, helping them to work “on” their business not “in” their business.