Shaping to the Swirl of Covid-19
The following is a narrative called Going with the Flow by an unknown author:
“An old man accidentally fell into the river rapids heading to a high and dangerous waterfall. The over lookers feared for his life. Miraculously he came out alive and unharmed downstream at the bottom of the falls. People asked how he managed to survive.
He said, ‘without thinking I allowed myself to be shaped by it, plunging into the swirl, I came out with the swirl, this is how I survived.’ “
The Covid-19 crisis provides an opportunity to learn an essential, but challenging life skill called, Radical Acceptance. The term, Radical Acceptance originated from Eastern philosophies.
Radical Acceptance is about accepting something that is out of your control, even if it causes discomfort and distress. It is about recognizing personal limitations and accepting them without fighting against them. The idea is that by working with, not against reality, suffering can be reduced or diminished. Fitting needs to reality rather than foolishly, exhaustingly trying to make reality fit to needs is Radical Acceptance. It is doing just what is needed at any given moment to tolerate and survive that moment. Accepting is not necessarily synonymous with agreeing or liking and it is never synonymous with dismissing. It is about embracing and integrating the lessons of the pain and anguish.
An old saying about war states, “You go into war with what you have, not what you need.”
All of humanity has been drafted by the war of Covid-19. It is painful; and, the pain is universal.
The Covid-19 crisis allows for no avoidance of pain. Pain, fear, and anxiety are to be expected during this challenging time. Emotional pain may morph into an emotional disorder if it is not accepted, worked through, and assimilated.
Only through accepting, experiencing, and tolerating pain is one ever able to find relief from it. Adapting thoughts, feelings, and behaviors in response to pain and changing circumstances of life is essential to achieving healing and will prove to be the antidote to suffering.
In this insidious war, the rapidly spreading virus has a consistent swirl. We all must allow ourselves to be shaped by it, by collectively changing our thoughts and behaviors to reflect a spirit of Radical Acceptance.
“Going with the flow” and accepting the Covid19 Crisis
- Re-create your new routine and stick to it. Get up at the same time each morning and follow the plan.
- Reframe staying at home as an opportunity to work on your relationship with your spouse, partner, or children.
- Re-invent the way in which you socialize. Social distancing does not have to equate to social disconnection. Connect with people daily. Check in on your loved ones regularly, and don’t assume that no news is good news. Call or Skype with distant relatives. Reach out to old friends for whom you have lost contact. Take Governor Cuomo’s advice and have your traditional family meals via Zoom or Skype once a week!
- Contribute to others’ well-being. Smile at your neighbor and lend an ear. Offer to help your elderly or infirmed neighbor with groceries or medication refills. Get involved with a common cause that resonates with you. Play with your pets. Adopt a new pet in need.
- Do something every day that gives you a sense of completion or mastery. Clean out that dreaded closet or garage. Pull weeds and tend to your garden. Do Spring cleaning.
- Learn something new for the pure enjoyment of it, not for the outcome of it. Learn how to play that instrument you love so much or learn a new language.
- Do not allow yourself to become too engrossed in the news. Although it is important to stay informed about Covid-19 updates, this must be tempered and balanced with other activities. Consider going on a news media diet or eliminate it altogether. Simply get updates from the Center for Disease Control (CDC).
- Read books or watch movies on adversity and resilience.
- Get regular exercise every day.
- Eat balanced, healthy meals every day.
- Get proper rest.
- Adopt a “Wabi-Sabi” attitude. And if you don’t know what “Wabi- Sabi” means, now is a good to research it!
- If you practice a religious Faith, renew it and fervently practice it.
Ideas for working with emotionally charged thoughts informed by Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
- Best Friend Technique– If my best friend had this thought and I wanted to help him/her see things differently, what would I say?
- U-Turn Technique– If I were to pretend to do a U-turn in my beliefs, what might I think or say instead?
- Habits of Mind– Catch yourself catastrophizing, maximizing, or using all or nothing thinking, and counter these thoughts with balanced thoughts.
- Worry thoughts and Coping Phrases- Write out your worry thoughts and counter each one with a coping phrase.
- Worst Case Scenario (with a Christian twist)- On paper describe in detail the worst-case scenario of each of worry. After each description add, “but you are with me Lord.”
- Serenity Prayer – Read this prayer and on paper write down the things you can control vs. the things you cannot control. Practice turning your mind repeatedly towards acceptance.
Disclaimer- This material is meant to supplement, not replace professional help.
© 2020 Julie Ayn Discenza M.Ed., M.S., LMFT