Over the last ten days, I’ve noticed how my e-mail inbox is literally flooded with double the number of e-mails than it used to be. Every single company is not just letting us know how they are handling the COVID-19 situation, which is good, but also offering discounts on clothing and products that we really do not need more of right now.
My inbox is also overflowing with e-mail offers for online get-togethers of all sorts: online games, movie nights, network meetings, community meetings, social gatherings and there seems no end to this. How can a social zoom gathering of my pickleball group—who without a doubt is a lovely group that I very much enjoy exercising with on the court twice a week—possibly be a substitution? I play pickleball because it is a fun way to move, so mostly for my health. It seems it would make much more sense to set the time aside for myself to get on my stationary bike, do some Yoga or go for a walk to stay fit and healthy.
Are we so afraid of our own company and the company of our loved ones that we need to flee to online games with strangers and online zoom chats with our sports groups?
While it’s important not to underestimate the immense value that we can find in connecting with people online to maintain a social life and keep from going stir-crazy, especially if we live alone, it’s more important than ever that we take the time for the opposite as well. What would it be like to take more time to slow down, feel the stillness, meditate and reflect on what is going on for us, rather than losing ourselves in meaningless distractions?
In some way, we are, of course, all fighting for a sense of normality. We all still need to make an income and, I am grateful that we can work through Zoom. There are great possibilities and gifts in this experience of having to adapt to the current situation. At the same time, I see among my colleagues a productivity frenzy as they are moving lectures, groups and workshops online as fast as they can. And, I freely admit this, I felt myself being pulled into this for a bit. Above the uncertainty about the future, that we all naturally feel in these times of a worldwide crisis, I also felt the pressure to be that coach who has it all together and just moves everything online right away.
Do we really need to convert our entire overly busy life to a virtual life right now, or have we missed out on an important hidden opportunity, when we do that? What is really behind this reluctance to take some time off? Is it the companies, organizations and sports clubs who fear they will cease to exist if they don’t go with the times and stay in touch with people?
I feel that it is important to give ourselves and our children time to emotionally and mentally adjust to the new circumstances, to ensure we don’t overload ourselves with online activities in an attempt to simulate normalcy. Let’s not forget that the world has for most of us only changed this dramatically in the last four weeks.
Six weeks ago, I was still on vacation with one of my daughters and now she is out of a job, and so is my other daughter. In February, I had clients come in daily, walking through the kitchen and living room area and downstairs to my home office. Now the kitchen and family room areas are in need of tidying up because we have become too comfortable with just letting things be. Or have we? Is this perhaps a time to enjoy that we do not need to go anywhere or have the house presentable for someone coming to us? And how can we cherish taking some time off when we are so busy recreating our lives online?
I am not saying that some of these online events aren’t helpful. The ones which feed your soul will be different from the ones that resonate with me. But more than ever, we need to be aware of not getting caught up in an activity and productivity frenzy. A lot of us have been too busy running around from event to event, as it was. My schedule was always full, and I am sure so was yours. And this applies even more so to families with younger kids. This is an opportunity to slow down and to be in the present moment. It is a chance to feel and to be aware. It is a time to find calm, peace and our inner centre. It is a time to stay fit, laugh and play games—not only online, but especially with the people closest to us who are in quarantine or self-isolation next to us: the family members who we are all seeing far more frequently now than we normally can.
One of my online German students in Switzerland, who I have always connected with once a week via Zoom even before COVID-19, said to me a couple of days ago that she didn’t have the time to do her homework because she chose to meditate every day and focus on staying calm and centred in the midst of everybody’s anxiety. My reply was, “Good for you!” How important is her German progress compared to the importance of understanding the messages we are getting through this crisis?
This period right now is a grief experience. We are experiencing different losses, concrete ones like the loss of a job and less concrete ones like a loss of safety and security. In reality, life was never predictable, but it felt more so before the COVID-19 pandemic. There is no right or wrong way to grieve! Grief means that we need to allow our individual grieving to proceed in its own way and time.
It is okay if you wake up in the middle of the night, not able to go back to sleep. It is okay if you are struggling to establish a daily fitness routine at home or move your classes or business online instantly. Given time and some grief work, not just our brains, but also our hearts will adapt. We will find completion of what we have lost, and peace in the new situation and with the new opportunities.
But what is most of all needed right now is some self-compassion. Ignore those colleagues or friends who are posting on social media about how well they are adapting or who are flooding your e-mail inbox with distractions. Remember that there is Facebook, and then there is real life, in which we don’t have to hide behind happy pictures or success stories. It is okay to take as long as it takes to adjust to the new normal! In fact, we will adjust faster, when we do not get lost in unnecessary distractions.
So which additional online invitations have I said yes to this week and will continue saying yes to? I have said yes to a Facetime with a young friend who had a daughter last year and who I usually visit once a month. It feeds my soul to see how the little one, who just learned to walk six weeks ago, has changed. I have said yes to regularly meeting online with a former student, who has become a brilliant fellow belief change coach himself, to do exchanges. We as coaches also need coaches or colleagues, as much for our own sanity as our clients do.
I will, of course, continue to connect with my dad, my uncle and my aunt, who are all in their eighties. Their love, wisdom and perspectives after having experienced other crises in their lives are nurturing and enlightening. Letting them know that I love and treasure them is one of the most important things I can do right now. I will continue to connect with other family members and close friends, but I will do it in a way that meets my needs. Rather than spending yet more time at the computer, I can speak to them on the phone while I go for a walk or sit in the backyard, which hopefully will soon be possible.
How different have even our walks become! It won’t be long, and we will all be wearing masks to protect others when we go out for walks or grocery trips, and I am all for that. As the world changes, we will need to relearn how to interact with others under these new circumstances. A nod, a smile and a friendly greeting are still possible with social distancing and more necessary than ever. Knowing how we want to be with each other, all begins with learning how to be with ourselves, our own feelings and fears. We cannot do that if we get swept up in a frenzy of online activity.
This is the time to wrap our mind around the fact that this experience will change us and our world forever. It is not going to be completely forgotten after a few weeks, and things won’t immediately, if ever, jump back to the way they were. Let’s rather acknowledge that we will be changed forever. It is the time to decide how we want to be changed for the better, when it comes to our relationships and our everyday life.
from April 1 to April 14
for individuals and couples
who are financially struggling
If you have lost your job or you are struggling because you are self-employed, reach out and talk to me, especially if you are a previous client. I am here to help you and your family through this time.
If you are a health care worker or first responder, your session is complimentary right now, out of admiration and deep gratitude for what you are going through right now.
You can start with a free phone consultation.