Facing uncertainty. It’s something we’ve all been doing a lot of lately. I, for one, have needed some new coping skills to help me remain positive. Enter my good friend Penny Casselman, who I’m delighted to introduce as the author of this timely post!
Penny and I met in 2017 through a mutual friend. Literally, a week later, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. We remained connected through her fight and as I got to know more about her, she proved an incredible example of resilience, positivity, and adaptability. As someone who has struggled to maintain positive thoughts, Penny’s advice has proven quite meaningful to me, as I’m certain it will to you as well!
You are a creature of habit.
Think about it.
- When you wash your hair, do you shampoo at the beginning or end of your shower?
- When you get dressed, do you put your pants on first, or your top?
- Do you switch on the coffee maker before or after you’re dressed?
Once we’ve established a reliable pattern of doing things, it’s difficult to switch it up. No pun intended. <wink>
So how can you prepare? How can you greet change with a “Hello, old friend – so nice to see you again!“
You can start by embracing these three truths.
Truth #1: In life, change is constant.
Change is like fashion. One day you’re in, and the next, you’re out.
Just when you’ve assembled the perfect capsule wardrobe, featuring accents of Living Coral – BAM! A new reality appears – toss those aside; it’s now Classic Blue.
The same type of 180-degree turn also happens outside of fashion. You established a routine, go through the motions with your eyes closed, and know for sure you’ll produce an exacting outcome. Then, BAM, a shift occurs, and you’re looking at something you no longer recognize.
When a change event arrives, it’s never empty-handed. Change provides a fantastic platform to explore new ideas, find ways to reinterpret the old, and spark a sense of childlike curiosity about your new reality. Change breeds opportunity! But you have to take action to reap the rewards.
Don’t think of all the things you can’t do; instead, think of all the things you CAN do!
Right now, you can’t visit a mall for retail therapy. But you can clean out your closet and make room for your new items when the restrictions lift.
You can’t go to the gym. But you can take long walks outside and watch spring come alive.
You can’t gather at the newest craft cocktail bar to toast a friends’ birthday. But you can learn all the features of FaceTime, Zoom, or Skype and host a virtual gathering. You can also create a handmade card and send it through the mail, using a stamp! Who doesn’t like to get a card that’s pretty, just for them, and asks nothing in return?!
Truth #2: You are not alone.
So often, when change occurs, it can seem like you’re the only one feeling the impact. But remember this: Every.Single.Person. has navigated some form of change before, and although the circumstances may be different than yours, the same thoughts consume our mind.
- Why me?
- Why now?
- How did this happen?
- Now what?
- I’ll never get back to normal.
Here’s the silver lining when it comes to managing change during this pandemic – we’re all in this together. Literally. Shelter-in-place, social distancing, wearing masks, watching news stories about curves, ventilators, and PPE – it’s exhausting.
One of my favorite quotes is this: “If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.” ~ Dalai Lama
So here is your virtual permission slip to slow down.
What would you do for your bestie if she reached out and asked for help during a change event? You’d jump at the chance to raise her spirits and support her. So whatever that thing is you’d do for her – do that thing, for you. Be kind to yourself, now more than ever.
Take time to feel all the feels you need. To process what’s going on around you. Connect with those you’re missing & worried about, virtually, of course. It’s because of these actions that we’ll emerge from this pandemic more joyful, compassionate & caring.
Truth #3: So goes your mindset, so goes your life.
Now, more than ever, it’s time to pay attention to your thoughts. Before COVID-19 was a ‘thing’ and when life was habitually humming along, it was easy to move on to the next item quickly. You could find a ton of excuses to dismiss dealing with change in support of pursuing something more fun, urgent, or known. Now, with nowhere to go and fewer activities keeping us distracted – except for binging Tiger King, of course – you may find your concerning thoughts are louder than ever.
Dealing with just one of the many changes we’re facing today would be cause for a collective pause. All of them at once? Overload.
Keeping you safe is your brain’s primary focus, and that’s a good thing – think fight or flight. But when your mind feels overwhelmed, especially now as you attempt to process the never-ending stream of pandemic coverage across all media channels, it’s crucial to stay focused on what we can control. And the most significant thing we can control is how we respond to our thoughts.
One of the best mechanisms to help keep negative thoughts in perspective and avoid them becoming your focus is to embrace the practice of gratitude.
No shortage of research links the act of expressing gratitude with greater happiness and calm. Just Google it, and you’ll have hundreds of links to research papers & articles all in agreement – gratitude is good! I attribute my fierce optimism to this one daily practice.
As you navigate the pandemic, take time to embrace and reflect on how these truths will improve your resilience; now and in the future. You got this.
I want to thank Betsy – Natty Gal – for allowing me to share my thoughts on facing uncertain and unpredictable times. We’re in this together, for sure.
To learn more about forming a gratitude practice of your own, you can grab your free copy of my guide here. In the booklet, I’ve compiled seven days of gratitude and journaling prompts to assist you in creating your habit. A habit that, over time, will boost your happiness and outlook on life. And who doesn’t want that?!
About the Author
Many thanks to Penny for lending her expertise and contagious positivity during this extremely stressful time! For another perspective on positive mindset, check out this post. Together we will find our way. Until next time…