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Why Hope May Not Be Helpful in the Face of COVID-19

I know, this might sound pessimistic, but hear me out…

“I hope that this whole COVID-19 thing goes away soon so we can resume our regular lives.”
“I hope this quarantine will be over soon!”
“I hope that things will go back to how they used to be soon.”

You may be thinking or hoping these things. But recently I’ve been pondering the possibility that COVID-19 may actually never go away and we may have to learn to adapt and live with it. It may be like influenza—seasonal, with a recommended shot and a new virus that becomes a part of our lives.

We don’t know when the quarantine will be over, and even when we’re given a specific date, that date keeps getting pushed further and further back. I am seven weeks into quarantine and I am just about to go stir crazy. The bleak reality is things will not go back to how they used to be. Ever. And that makes me feel disheartened, discouraged, and sad.

But when I am able to be mindful and sit with these feelings and thoughts from a non-judgmental place, I am able to see that I was clinging to the past and how things used to be. At the same time, I was being hopeful about the things in the future.

The cause of my suffering: wishing for things to be different than they presently are. I am reminded that this is what mindfulness is all about—being in the present moment.

Living in hope prevents us from living in the present. It stops us from accepting what is, right now. Hope puts us in a perpetual future mindset.

“I’ll be happy when…”
“The moment x changes, then…”
“If only… then…”

How many times have you said, “I’ll be happy when I get a promotion, own a house, buy this fancy car, marry the perfect partner, fill in the blank”? I know I have said these things many times. But that’s like marrying a person for their “potential” instead of accepting them for who they are right now. We all know how that plays out…

I’m not saying that having hope is a “bad” thing, or not to have any hope. Maybe it’s what gets you out of bed each day or helps you stay motivated. Maybe it’s something to look forward to, and if it helps you in some way, then great. It’s great as long as it’s helping you take action and not just keeping you in a waiting state.

A waiting state based on external circumstance, an unforeseeable future date, or potential “something” that may or may not ever happen, is not helpful. Clinging on to this type of hope is not helpful.

What if instead we said…

“I don’t know if this COVID-19 thing will ever really go away, but what can I do right now to make my life feel more normal/regular?”
“This quarantine is still not over. What can I choose to focus on and do right now?”
“This pandemic is literally changing and impacting so many areas of my life. How can I use this opportunity to grow, reassess, learn new things?”

From this shift in mindset, you are empowered. You have clarity, you can make choices, you can act, you can choose—when you accept the situation as it is right now, giving it permission to exist instead of wishing for it to be different. This reduces our resistance, reduces our suffering, and allows us to operate from a mindful place of clarity.

Perhaps we can then cultivate something called “wise hope.”

As Zen teacher Joan Halifax says, “Wise hope is not seeing things unrealistically but rather seeing things as they are, including the truth of suffering—both its existence and our capacity to transform it.”

We can either be frustrated with the current situation, thus suffer, or we can accept it for what it is and focus on what we can do right now.

Personally, I know that if I stay in the “wishing things were different” mindset and after weeks of isolation (and who knows how much longer) I can easily go downhill into oversleeping, laziness, binging Netflix, eating absorbent amounts of ice cream, and not keeping up with self-care.

These things can quickly snowball into decreased mood, increased negativity and anxiety, unproductivity, and even depression. I know how easy it is to slip into that, and I don’t want to go there. Rather, I consciously choose not to go there. It all starts with how I reframe my thoughts through acceptance and then take action.

Hope: “I hope that this whole COVID-19 thing goes away soon so we can resume our regular lives.”

Acceptance & Action: “I don’t know if this COVID-19 thing will ever really go away, but to make my life feel more normal during isolation, the action I’m going to take is to keep my daily routine. That means going to sleep at a reasonable time, setting an alarm even on weekends, getting fresh air and sunlight on my patio, meditating, eating well, stretching/practicing yoga/doing pushups, showering, and prioritizing self-care. I know that even on days I don’t feel like doing these things, I have the power to choose. I can choose to not do these things and feel crappy/unproductive/lazy, or I can choose to continue my daily routine because I know it increases my overall happiness and well-being.”

Hope: “I hope this quarantine will be over soon!”  

Acceptance & Action: “Although I hope this quarantine will be over soon, all this extra time is such an opportunity! I can finally start reading that book that has been on my shelf for the last year, take that online course I’ve always wanted to take, make bread from scratch, deep clean my house, and study online marketing! I re-assessed my 2020 goals that I had set out earlier in the year and made a ‘to-do list’ and a ‘want-to-do’ list that I can work toward given the current situation. I have been able to complete some of the things on my ‘want-to-do’ list and it has brought me a lot of joy.”

Hope: “I hope that things will go back to how it used to be soon.”

Acceptance & Action: “Things will not go back to how it used to be. We are always changing and growing because if we are not growing, then we are dying. We see this all the time in nature. A plant never stays static; it is either growing or dying. There is no in-between. So every day I am choosing to live, which means I am choosing to grow. I am taking this time to reflect on what has worked for me in the past, and how to make it better, releasing what hasn’t worked for me and/or changing direction. What a beautiful opportunity to press the RESET button!”

Although this quarantine may be frustrating, boring, lonely, stressful, fill in the blank, it can be an opportunity to reset, transform, grow, change direction, and reinvent yourself. Which will you choose?

About Yurika Vu

Yurika Vu is hosting a free 1 day “Self Love” day where she interviews 5 of the top experts in Self Love! If you struggle with confidence, worthiness, and self acceptance- these short videos teach you simple practical skills you can incorporate right away to start increasing your confidence! Opt into “A Mindful Self Love Day” at https://themindfullifesummit.com/self-love/.

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The post Why Hope May Not Be Helpful in the Face of COVID-19 appeared first on Tiny Buddha.

How I’m Finding Hope in the Pandemic

“We must be willing to let go of the life we’ve planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us.” ~Joseph Campbell

It’s hard to believe the state of the world we are in. It feels like 2020 has become the plot of an apocalyptic movie.

A microscopic virus invades planet earth targeting human beings. As mass numbers of human beings retreat indoors, wildlife begins to flourish. Slowly, continent by continent, the human bacteria is eliminated. Only the strongest of the species survive and mutate, creating a new breed of homo sapiens. Finally, planet earth can breathe.

Who would have ever thought that something like this would stop the world in its tracks? (Well, Bill Gates, apparently.)

I’m ashamed to admit that my weekly screen-time phone report was up 73 percent last week, and I highly doubt I was the only one. Anytime I reached for my phone, I was pulled down a rabbit hole of news reports with terrifying headlines, live videos around the world, reading new laws, catching up with hundreds of WhatsApp and Facebook messages. I could not concentrate on anything for longer than a second, and my regular meditation routine was thrown out the window.

Anxiety is a beast, and it’s been thriving in this type of environment. My little anxious dog-brain is running around in circles with all sorts of horrible scenarios.

I had the next six months of my life meticulously planned and lined up so perfectly: completing my placement at the hospital, working part-time, graduating from school, getting married in Canada. But everything seems to be floating now, held in the air, and I’m just waiting for the pieces to drop.

There are people I know who have it so much worse. They’ve lost their jobs, are forced to move out of their homes because they can’t pay rent.

Not to mention the people who are actually sick with Coronavirus, how terrifying that it might be. Living in make-shift hospital tents, being tended to by nurses in hazmat suits, their families praying they will make it out alive. Or those who are dying of something else entirely and can’t have visitors to say goodbye on their last days alive.

The repercussions of this are far-reaching and heartbreaking. It’s been devastating for so many of us, and my heart feels a culmination of pain from everywhere.

However, amongst all the pain and chaos, there is a silver lining: we are all united. We are literally all in it together; whether you live in a small village of Afghanistan or in an upscale neighbourhood in California. The entire world is working together to help each other, to fix this mess.

The power of love and community can be seen with touching videos of people singing to each other on their balconies and rooftops in Italy. Or people leaving messages in my mailbox letting me know that they can pick up groceries, or medication if I’m sick.

The virus knows no status, no religion, no ethnicity. Under this, we are all equal, we are all just human; fragile and mortal little creatures.

When faced with a pandemic, we get to see the meaninglessness of so many things in our lives. The superficial fancy clothes and expensive cars, what does that give you, ultimately? How much importance does that have right now? Or the planning and planning and saving for ‘later’ when what if there is no later? The working in jobs we hate, with people who infuriate us because we’re too afraid of change, or too afraid to fail?

It is a highly stressful and volatile time, there is no doubt about that. I am not going to sit here and tell you how you need to remain positive and grateful and blah blah blah. Feel whatever you feel, allow it to run its course. It’s absolutely normal to feel powerless and afraid, and you are certainly not alone. In fact, you could not be less alone in your state of mind right about now.

But it’s also important to remember that human beings are resilient little creatures—that means you. Yes, you reading this right now. You are a resilient being and this is going to make you stronger.

Imagine the creativity that will emerge during this time of quarantine? Imagine the art, the songs, the writing, the stories, the incredible ingenuity that will be born from this time?

We are resilient beings and our minds can run far and wide. We might feel the fear and anxiety, but we can also feel creativity and compassion. This is a time for humans to reanalyze the world we live in. To take a break from the rat race that is society and find something authentic and true within ourselves.

The story of humanity will not end with us being annihilated by the coronavirus, we will overcome. But maybe, and hopefully, what will die out is an old stale form of society.

Perhaps this is an opportunity for humankind to make a more sustainable world, not only for the planet but for us humans too.

Maybe it’s a sneak peak of a world where we’re not just another cog in the wheel of a giant corporate machine, but a place where we can bring our true humanity, our innate gifts. This virus has forced to reconsider everything, and the leaders of our worlds are struggling to handle it all. This is precisely where change happens.

Every day is a new day and in today’s world, we cannot predict what will happen in an hour, let alone tomorrow. Now is the time to rest and incubate your mind, allowing it to bask in its own creative juices. It’s a time of unprecedented change. Allow that resilience and creativity that is innate you to spread.

The world is waiting.

About Kimberly Hetherington

Kimberly Hetherington is a Canadian writer and practicing Transpersonal Art Therapist based in Sydney, Australia. Her website, Life After Elizabeth is a tribute to her sister who died in the fall of 2013. The website is about healing after loss, self-discovery, ending the stigma of mental illness, and exploring how we can be the best version of ourselves we can be.

Get in the conversation! Click here to leave a comment on the site.

The post How I’m Finding Hope in the Pandemic appeared first on Tiny Buddha.