I’m going to start this off with a fairly loaded question: What is the purpose of life?
Okay, so it’s a really loaded question, we won’t go into the details of that philosophical rabbit hole today. I ask this question because in the midst of global uncertainty, chaos and crisis, this can get lost.
Of course it makes sense that this isn’t the focus, because safety is a basic human need and we are all wired to protect ourselves and our loved ones. Since safety is in question for so many humans as a result of the virus, fear of not being safe is the overwhelming focus. However, we are also wired for connection, and have an uncanny ability to adapt in various circumstances.
In a nutshell, to me, the purpose of life is to connect and create, so we can learn, grow and expand, in order to enhance our own lives and the lives of others, through our shared experiences.
If you’re willing to entertain that summation for a moment, then perhaps we can agree that during uncertain times, like the current COVID pandemic, it’s important to remember a few things.
Far too often, caring people confuse putting others needs first, as the best and only way to help. They believe it is selfish, and therefore bad, to care for themselves first. I wrote an article about selfishness here, if you’d like to check it out: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/selfish-bad-dont-dr-toni-warner.
Caring for yourself can be interpreted as selfish, but it certainly is not bad. We all are so much better equipped to help one another when we tend to our own needs first. For example, don’t you want the healthy, rested and nourished doctor to be the one treating you, as opposed to one who has not gotten ample rest or nourishment and whose mind is distracted from stress?
On the flip side, in situations like the pandemic that we are in now, some people mistake needing to care for themselves as being in opposition to caring for others; as if they can only care for themselves, and not spare the possible expense associated with caring for others. This is not the case. There are things you can do to care for yourself, not put yourself in harms way, and still extend a hand to help someone else in need (like writing or sharing a helpful blog article).
In either of the above extreme’s, connection is lost. In the first extreme, connection to your own needs is lost and in the second extreme, connection to others is lost. It becomes easy to forget, that although our individual circumstances may all be unique, we are all in this world together.
So what to do in these kinds of situations?
You can choose to be aware of the circumstances, without being consumed by them. Here are a few tips to do just that:
- Take in the necessary information that you need to stay safe and help others, as you’re able. Then, move forward with your day. Don’t over-consume the un-ending media coverage throughout your entire day.
- To prevent over-consumption and overwhelm, create a schedule for you day. Include things you need to get done and things you enjoy, so that you are feeling both productive and fueled. Referencing your schedule will help you from accidentally gravitating back into over-consumption of the news media.
- Remind yourself that you are safe, in this moment. A focus on the uncertainty is sure to breed more fear and stress. You are safe in this moment, and that is worth taking stock of in situations like these.
- Be compassionate with yourself and others. Choose only to spread encouragement and kindness right now. Harping on people in your household or on social media, will only amp up frustrations and lead you to feel more out of control. Practice compassion.
Lastly, remember, we are all interconnected. We don’t understand everything that is happening right now and we can’t control it all, and that is okay. We can and we will move through this time as a nation. Be selective about what energy you surround yourself with- be it media, people in your household, other virtual connections or entertainment on a screen. Choose what feels good and safe. Choose to walk away when you need to.
Do the best you can. That’s all any of us can do at any point in time, pandemic or not.
With love & warmth,
Dr. Toni Warner, LCSW, MSW, MeD, is a mother of three, a transformational life & wellness coach for busy professionals seeking balance and a licensed psychotherapist in Pennsylvania. She’s been in the helping professions field for over a decade.
Dr. Toni is the founder of Dr. Toni Coaches, LLC, a coaching, educating and consulting business. It’s mission is to inspire and enact meaningful change in the world by helping heart-centered impact makers create work, life & relationship balance, allowing them to more deeply and meaningfully live, love, connect and share their gifts, enhancing their lives and the lives of others.
Dr. Toni is also the founder of Authentically Me Psychotherapy, LLC, where she supports high achieving and creative individuals who are struggling with anxiety, depression, trauma, burn out and disconnection, to get in touch with their core selves so they can live more fully and authentically aligned lives.
For therapy in PA: www.authenticallymepsychotherapy.com
For transformational life coaching: http://bit.ly/drtonicoaches
***Please note that coaching and therapy are not one in the same; they are separate services and the above mentioned are separate business entities. If you are unsure which service best fits your needs, simply reach out and ask: email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org