“Never let the future disturb you. You will meet it, if you have to do, with the same weapons of reason which today arm you against the present.” Marcus Aurelius
Anxiety is the natural and healthy response to any big change in our lives and for many of us, and the society and world within we live, nothing has ever been a bigger than this coronavirus pandemic and hence exploding coronavirus anxiety. Change creates risk and uncertainty and challenges the stability and familiarity with which we live our lives. And so what are we to do? My hope is you will find some of the answers you need here.
First, here are a few basics. Thus, there is nothing inherently wrong with anxiety feelings. The purpose of healthy anxiety feelings is to prime us for action in order to respond well to the situation and change we face. And as we make that change by taking the action that is necessary, so anxiety will naturally subside.
But what if we don’t know what to do and the future is mired in uncertainty and risk? Like now perhaps! Well then, we can become chronically anxious and locked in. We may be naturally reminded of earlier periods in our lives of similar feelings of anxiety and then it can become very easy to recall or believe that then, it really did seem to work out badly. Further, as if primed by our chronic anxiety we can be naturally reminded of all the other issues and irresolution in our lives now and why it is us who is to blame – reflecting our unique incompetence, stupidity, weakness and moral turpitude. Can you see elements of this that are leaving you stuck and trapped in your anxiety?
And what will be the one clear consequence? It will be that you will not be calm and clear enough to make the right decisions when the time is right.
Listen to this audio. It will shift your focus and calm you and remind you of your strengths and useful gifts and life experiences. And then as you are more confident in your ability to make the right decisions at the right time and in the meantime remain present in this moment – your anxiety will fade.
Dealing with Coronavirus Anxiety Audio
Download Dealing with Coronavirus Anxiety Audio
My Coronavirus Anxiety script
Through so much of our normal daily lives we are barely awake. We notice very little. Much is familiar and we just assume that it is there and it is what it is and life will be what it is and the future will be just as the past has been. And it is only when something odd happens, something unexpected that we really begin to pay attention. I remember when I was involved in a car crash and I could see the car approaching so slowly which eventually hit into our side and it was as if time stood still. I noticed everything for the few moments that it took for the crash to happen and time slowed right down.
But oh my, how has this virus pandemic changed everything. For many and I include myself, nothing has ever come close. And now as the coronavirus response unfolds and is infiltrating into every aspect of our lives apparently, then naturally we are much more alert. Indeed we are on high alert. We notice everything as nothing can be assumed to be as it always was and always is and always will be. And this includes, of course, all of our fears of a future which is so uncertain and which can seem so fraught – over our health and the health of those we love, of our financial stability and the future of our work and the meaning that we derive and indeed of our fundamental place in a society that has changed out of all recognition, at least for now. And every day seems to be reconstituted with new daily habits of food, supplies, daily interactions and daily stresses. And as we stay with these fears and allow our imagination to feed them and fuel them, why it is so easy to begin to drown in anxieties and helplessness. We are highly alert but helplessly so. Helplessly alert in our drowning imagination.
And then what happens? As we spend so much of our time alertly aroused and stressed and lost in a world that is both horribly familiar but also frighteningly new and challenging. Well one thing is certain – we can’t think straight and our high arousal keeps us stupid – open, like the virus itself, to wild imaginings, dread, and helplessness.
And perhaps it is the helplessness which is the most novel in its dangerousness. Because whatever will be, we are doing everything we can at this moment – to fend off the virus, to live and feed and to protect our loved ones and possibly (but possibly not) maintain some semblance of financial security. We are so insecure in what is so familiar – familiar in our fearfulness.
If this speaks to you then allow yourself to sit back and for my voice to calm you and call to you. As these words wash over allow yourself to feel that cool breeze slow you right down.
Let your imagination wander and allow your recall-free reign. What happy memories of gatherings and love and delight are there ready for you to dip into now? Are there moments of magic and connection? Can you hear music playing and what especially beautiful colours are coming into view? Is there a holiday beach settling on the horizon? Or I wonder is there a beautiful garden green and verdant and colours exploding? Perhaps you can see a precious hidden meadow stretching out before you – green, complete and magical. You will know what is there, won’t you? You will have the recall that you need in the glory of your remembered imaginings – to create a moment that is still, right there. That’s right, you are staying with that.
And as you begin to slow down and as you begin to focus on what is calming you and is peaceful, why then you can find a moment to be present in this moment – to be complete and whole with the awareness of this moment. Your senses are speaking to you – of finger touch engaging smell … sight even with your eyes darkly closed … and taste, even with your mouth empty and moist. Of touch, smell, sight and taste. That’s right. In this moment you are present and the past has gone and the future still has to be.
And so what else is right now that you can be having right now that you will be choosing to focus on right now?
How will you create and enjoy the order and comfort of a routine? How can that give you the balance and boundaries that you crave for? That’s right, find those small plans that you can hold in your hand like a small beautiful bird that you can release so it soars high up and away. That routine is there waiting for you: wonderful There is the routine that you will create every day to be learning, meditating, teaching, entertaining, being, feeding, laughing and crying too.
What will you be discovering in this new routine that keeps you present and now? What will be the most valuable… The most surprising… that delights you the most? Perhaps it has been there all along but until now you never noticed just how precious it is – family, moments of peace and love and laughter and learning and discovering – as you slow down.
; I wonder what are the memories that you will be laying down for that time that is certainly coming when much of this is all over and you will be looking back and remembering with affection perhaps. It could be that? For you to recall this rare time in our shared life story and reminisce and be reminded of what you learnt and discovered?
What an opportunity coronavirus presents for you. To be present in this moment and trust that however the future unfolds, that you will have the ability and the resources to deal with it as you have in the past, either well or could it be not quite so well.
In this moment you really do know the future is unknowable and Corona is an opportunity to remind yourself of all that you have and all that can be built to prepare for the future that will be.
You have done all you can do at this time and it is time for you to trust that you are comfortable in what will be – it will be.
And as you are present in this moment what are the lessons that you might be able to learn? And what might be the opportunities that will arise out of the chaos. Because you know that out of change comes opportunity and the comfortable myths of certainty are now collapsing before you – disintegrating into dust.
There is always there the opportunity to ride that tiger of change. And in so many ways you always have haven’t you?
You don’t know what will happen now, do you? Be released by your knowing of not knowing. Be released as you don’t know what you don’t know knowing that you know only what you think you know . You do know now not knowing.
As you sit there calm and peaceful you can imagine being on the top of a mountain looking out and seeing the clouds that are even higher than you are. There are only clouds and at best you can see a small gap which might reveal something of what is out there or might it be an illusion or might it be impossible to understand as you see that tiny gap in the clouds. So find that peace, live in the present moment and make those memories.
;And when you are ready just begin to come back to the room gently now as I countdown –
5 4 3 2 1.
And do find time to look at my website andrewmrichardson.co.uk that’s andrewmrichardson.co.uk