By: Jordan Gross, RN TBRHSC
Right Now I am scared…. I am a Nurse and my job is to face the beast that the rest of the world is hiding from and is informed to avoid at all costs.
The tensions are high and I adopt others' anxieties on top of my own. I feel paralyzed with so many fleeting what ifs. What if I contract this virus, and pass it on to those whom I love most? What if I don't get compensated if I’m off sick? What if this kills me and it’s all over? This impending sense of what if runs through my being and numbs me of all the chances for happiness and gratitude that I have left. Right now I can't even enjoy my favorite meal or enjoy the presence of the few family members that can join me. Will this ever end?
But then I pause…..For a brief moment I am still. I open my mind and open my heart. I invite all the feelings/visitors in the guest house I call myself, even the ones that have brought me so much pain in the past. For in this moment all of it is welcomed. I still cant’ see all of my family but the select few I can I hold a little tighter. I can see that we are all here, now. I look down and wonder at the sight and smell of my most favorite meal. The taste and textures of the meal is even better than I could have imagined, as I savor it as if it is the last time I will ever eat again. I notice my mind as it starts to race back to the what ifs and shoulds but I let that be and shift my perspective even more. Suddenly my idea of hindsight turns into foresight and I see that all my past suffering has led me to my greatest bouts of happiness and freedom. For in this moment I trust in something higher than myself, and know that it will all work out as it should. I feel needed, but the only thing I need to do is Be Here Now.
A simple shift in perspective or as I like to put it using another “lens” turned this crisis into a form of true liberation and knowing. I wish not to impose my own lenses on others but urge them to explore their own. Especially in times of crisis our minds will tell us that we must continue looking through the lens of anxiety in order to survive. But by exercising our freedom to shift lenses we quickly see that this sense of anxiety is just another lens in which we are viewing the external world. I feel that everyone can agree that we cannot choose our thoughts, but we can nudge our thoughts in the right direction by utilizing another lens.
Author and Holocaust Survivor Viktor E Frankl wrote “between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom”.
No matter the external stimuli that comes with a crisis like this pandemic we will always have that space of freedom to respond with a different lens. Once we recognize this freedom we can explore whatever lens we have inside and can gain whatever lessons or insights in order to lead us to freedom and ultimately our true self. If we open our mind and our hearts, we can see there is more than just bad that can result from this monster called Covid.
Tips For Shifting Lenses
Accept your lens: You cannot simply push away a lens you don't’ wish to see, such as anxiety. It is only when you accept and even get curious about this lens that you have the freedom to change it. “We cannot change anything until we accept it. Condemnation does not liberate, it oppresses” - Carl Jung
Be open to any lens: You can learn from any lens even ones that are negatively perceived like anxiety.
Refrain from seeing thoughts as facts: The thoughts that correspond with a lens are not facts but simply thoughts.
Give energy to the thoughts that bring you peace: With switching lenses comes switching thoughts. By opening up you will encounter all types of sets of thoughts and you can pay special attention to the ones that truly resonate with you.
Share your insights and lenses with others: Community is a crucial part of human survival and will certainly benefit us during this crisis. Share your lenses and insights with others, who knows somebody just might be thinking the same thing.
Surrender expectations: After reading this you might have the expectation that switching lenses will always result in good. However, the good from switching lenses often comes the lessons learned during the transitions. So don't expect results but stay open to them.
Open up to spirituality: To be in the optimal lens you certainly do not have to become part of a religious or spiritual group. But you also don't have to restrict yourself from it either. Spiritual teachings from books or teachers can offer some more lenses for you to see. If you have an aversion to spirituality that’s ok too but get curious about ask why, using any lens you have.
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