We’re all feeling scared and uncertain about the future.
I don’t have the answers. But I’m hoping my perspective might quiet those fears a bit.
My advice basically falls into a couple of DOs and DONTs.
DON’T take anyone’s advice about all of the things you should be getting done right now while in quarantine.
This isn’t a vacation. A lot of us are panicked and we don’t need to add a layer of shame on top of it because we’re not re-organizing our closets or creating the perfect homeschooling plan for our children.
If you have the bandwidth to use this time to tackle the things you usually don’t have time for, great! Have at it!
But if you don’t, give yourself grace. It’s ok to just be. In our society of hustle, we don’t need to turn a pandemic into a time of productivity.
Let yourself do whatever you need right now and take off the guilt.
DON’T spend all day watching the news.
While I just said you can do whatever you want, that comes with one caveat: you can’t just take in hours and hours of news.
Our brains are evolutionarily wired to seek out all information about possible dangers. But it wasn’t evolved to take in a 24-hour news cycle that gets more ratings the scarier it is.
While you need to stay abreast of what is going on, you don’t need a minute-by-minute update of every person who has died from the virus.
Walk away. Do anything else.
DON’T try to predict the future.
“We suffer more in imagination than in reality.”- Seneca
When our thoughts run unchecked we try to come up with every possible scenario of what can happen. The reality is that we have no idea what is going to happen. Stop trying to control or plan for every possible scenario.
There are tons of factors that we have no control over--the government, how many people self-quarantine, etc. All we are doing in our attempt to control is increasing the amount of time we suffer. Know that you’ll deal with whatever issue comes up.
DO look at the silver linings-
While this can be hard, mindset work is the most needed in tough times.
I like to think about the Law of Polarity- everything has an equal, opposite side.
We’d never know what happiness was if we didn’t experience sadness. Think about it. How would food ever taste good if you were always full?
So while these events are hard and can be painful, there is another side. Maybe that’s getting time to be with your family. Maybe that’s giving mother nature a break from our constant onslaught. Maybe it’s just changing your perspective to stop worrying about all of the minor things.
Whatever it is, spend time each day focusing on that. No better time than now to start a gratitude practice.
DO look at how other people have thrived in uncertain times.
“You can’t be what you can’t see.” Marian Wright Edelman
It helps us to see others who have come out of tough times. It lets us know that it is possible.
Luckily, we’ve had tons of guests on the podcast who lost their jobs during the last economic recession in 2008 and it turned out to be the best thing that happened to them. Take some time to remind yourself that it’s not always as bad as we think it is.
Everything is cyclical. Humans have gone through these uncertain times over and over again. And we’ll make it out...sometimes much stronger.
DO take care of yourself.
The most important thing is to figure out what you need the most and give that to yourself right now, without shame or blame. Do whatever you need to take care of yourself mentally and physically.
Hello my friends. How are we all doing? It seems to be a bit of a crazy time. If you're listening to this podcast in the future, then you will know right now is March of 2020 and we are going through this Coronavirus crisis. And hopefully if you're listening in the future you will look back at this and laugh at how silly we all were and how wonderfully everything turned out. And that's actually what I want to talk about. I know there's a lot going on and there is a lot of anxiety and we do a lot of mindset work in my group coaching program or even the free coaching on the podcast. We know I tend to stick to interviews and we talk a lot about mindset in the interviews, but I don't directly address it, which actually has been something I've wanted to start doing on the podcast.
I'm doing a second episode like this and I never got around to it. So this is the perfect time. I figure right now is a time of heightened nervousness and anxiety. And so maybe I can offer a couple of words that might help in any way. And if nothing else, I want you to know that I'm here for you. I'm here to help. I’ve worked from home for over four years. So, if you need tactical advice, practical advice, like what apps to use, how to schedule yourself, all of that stuff; I'm happy to give you that to you. But I wanted to focus a little bit on the craziness that is happening and how to go through these times of uncertainty. So the first thing I will say about mindset work and just learning how to observe your own mind and change your mind is that a lot of times we come at whatever mindset we're trying to change and we have been sort of programmed to shame ourselves.
Or blame ourselves or whatever it is. We aspire to be something. And then when we aren't to that thing, we start piling it on with questions like, why can't I be more productive? Why can't I be more calm? Why can't I focus more? Whatever it is. And so then not only are you dealing with what you aren't doing, what you want to be doing, but you're also dealing with the shame and the blame. I want you to become aware of that because that is happening a lot right now. And I want you to stop that right now, especially in these times. I see a lot of things on Instagram and social media and Facebook and they're very well-intentioned and there’s a lot of talk about how to productively use this time when you're in the house. And I think it's great because yeah, we are now all finding ourselves with a lot more time in our own homes, not being able to be distracted by things outside, not being able to run around and you know, have your millions of to-do’s because you're stuck in the house.
And so there's a lot of suggestions about how you can get all your projects done and how you can spend all this wonderful time reading or doing exercises, all these great things. And if you have the mental capacity to do that, then please do by all means you use this time and that's wonderful. The problem is, a lot of us have a human mind that is going insane right now and it is very difficult. It's not like you're on vacation or you're just sitting around reading. I was trying to read last night and I could not focus myself enough to understand the words that I was reading. And I think understanding that that is normal and I don't want you to start shaming yourself for not creating this super productive time at home. I think we are so instilled in our society with drilling productivity and always completing a million to do's. That's already a problem.
And I think especially in a time of uncertainty when you're feeling anxious, being gentle with yourself, giving yourself grace to understand that things are changing by the hour and our brain is wired to try to seek out any danger. And so you get pulled to wanting to know what's happening in this uncertainty. And so it becomes very difficult to focus and I think a lot of times, like I have two young children that are in the house now with me that makes things very difficult and I see a lot of posts about people coming up with all these activities and homeschooling and it's like sometimes this is just too much, you know? And I am giving myself a lot of grace. We've taken off a lot of the rules for screen time and a lot of other rules and it's because I need to maintain sanity of myself and for my children and to make sure that we are not going to kill each other while we're in this house.
I would just want you to be aware of that. I think it's great to take in those suggestions and I think, and we'll talk about what you can do to basically step away from all of this anxiety and maybe take some more time to read or take a bath or exercise or do whatever it is you need to do for self care. But I don't want you to add another layer of guilt or blame or shame or whatever it is that you're now using this time so productively that you have in the house. That's not realistic because we are in kind of a flight or fight mode and your brain is releasing all of these chemicals that literally make it impossible for you to sit down and focus on building that shelf. You want it to build. So let's just put that aside. Give yourself grace. Give yourself grace with your children, with your spouse, with everybody in the house. Give yourself grace with yourself. You don't need to come up with a bunch of to-do’s. Okay, let's stop that.
I will say though that we were just talking about how our brain is evolutionarily wired and it's so funny. I just listened to this other podcast with this scientist. It was based on a completely different topic, but something he said that was so interesting to me. He was talking about how, as humans, hundreds of thousands of years ago, there were other humanoid species and the reason our species of humanoids survived was because we were the most fearful. The fear response in our brain is so developed that we survived because we hid out in caves. We didn't actually go out and do the things that they were doing, they're fighting the animals that they were fighting and so our species ended up surviving - Which is great that we survived. But it also goes to show you how entrenched this fear response is.
And like I said, we are wired to search for danger so that we can keep alive. Our only brain function is to keep us alive. It's not to keep us happy, it's not to keep us calm. It's to keep us alive. And so when there are times of extreme uncertainty, it is natural for your brain to want to have and need more information, I need more information. The problem is with society where we have a 24-hour news cycle. Our brains are not evolved for that, right? And obviously the media is doing what the media does, and they’re making money on ratings and keeping our attention. So everything is even more dramatic. We are taking in an onslaught of negative news and our brain doesn't know how to handle that. So this is something very much to be aware of and the conversations that I've had with my friends and family over the last week, it just, it's so funny to me... We’re watching people as we're spinning out and people are trying to predict what's going to happen in a month, two months, three months, six months, nine months.
I have all these reports about what's going to happen with the economy, what's going to happen with the disease, how long we have to be quarantined, what's gonna happen with your kids' school? There are so many unknowns. And then we start spinning out and creating these insane stories of what might happen and I guess some of it might happen but a lot of it might not. Right? I love the quote from Seneca that says we suffer more in our imagination than in reality because that is a story of our lives, right? That is a story of mindset work and our thoughts is that our thoughts create these unbelievable situations and we convince ourselves that it has to be true and because we think if we have all this information, somehow we can get ahead of it, which we can't and so we keep wanting more information and we keep creating alternative theories of what might happen and I understand that this is a rapidly changing situation and for most of us, we've never in our lives been in something like this, which I will talk about in a second.
And so there is a certain need for information, right? For instance, my husband is trying to figure out if they are going to put our city on a full lockdown. He needs to know because of his business. He has sent most of his employees home. Some employees are still at the office. If they shut down, he has to send everybody home and he has to make contingency plans for his business. So sure he needs to understand what's happening. We all do, but it's only to a certain extent, right? What’s happening on a minute by minute basis. Right? And so sometimes we overload ourselves because we think, Oh I just need to know everything that's happening in order to create my contingency plan. But then we end up spiraling out of control. And it's really important to know this.
I think when you are starting to make plans for a month out, two months, three months, six months, it's important to observe that and check yourself and realize that none of that can come to pass. We have no idea what will happen because there are a million factors we can't account for, right? We can't account for what the government's going to do. We can't account for how many people actually are going to self quarantine and what happens with this disease. We can watch it, we can see and we can start making some plans. We should absolutely listen to authorities when they tell us what to do and we should take those steps. But I think spinning yourself out over something that you have never had control over and you won't have control over this too is something to be observant of, not so you can stop.
Right. I think obviously we all know that life is never certain. It never is. No matter how much we want to believe we have control, we don't, right? You will walk out tomorrow into the street and get hit by a car. Now this type of situation obviously demonstrates uncertainty on a mass scale and I know the amount of anxiety that can cause, but I really want you to understand that your brain was made to seek this information out and sometimes you just have to stop it. You have to be the adult in the room and tell your brain, I understand you want to keep looking at the news, but we're not going to do that right now. We're going to limit our news intake to these times and that's it. Right? And so a lot of that has to become kind of a willpower thing because it will drive you insane.
The other thing I wanted to talk about, and you know, I mentioned how most of us have never been in a situation like this and these types information that I posted on Instagram, if you don't follow me, I always love to think about the law of polarity. The law of polarity says that everything has an equal and opposite thing. Right? And so if you think about it, like you would never know what happiness was if you didn't experience sadness. Right? How would you ever know? Think about how food would taste if you never experienced hunger? Or food when it tastes good? Have you ever tried eating when you're already full? I could, you know, it's not that fun, right? The only reason you understand the gloriousness of good food is because you've experienced hunger.
The same thing with anything, right? You wouldn't understand how beautiful a sunny day is or how wonderful good weather is if you didn’t experience bad weather. Right. It all kind of puts it in perspective. And even though we understand that everything is cyclical - there's always ups and downs - There's no way to have a life that doesn't have any downs. Right. We understand that. We understand that throughout all of human evolution, there have been horrific events and then wonderful events and it's just the way it kind of goes. We constantly freak out when something is going downward. And I think that sometimes it would behoove you to take a step back and think about the law of polarity and what that means in this situation for you. Right? So I'm not saying that you have to sit around and think everything is great, but to get curious about these things.
When this happens, I think, wow, look at how blessed I've been in my life that I've never been told by my government that I have to sit in my house. Right? I've never been quarantined. The freedom with which we live is so incredible. And so to have that perspective, I think this is putting a lot of things in perspective for people right now. We spend so much time being upset about such trivial things in our lives. We kind of create this victim mentality about our lives and Oh like things are the worst and it can't change and it is just the way it is. And it's all about minor conveniences that when real things happen and you start realizing, oh what the hell was I complaining about? Right? And I think that one blessing in this kind of stuff is that there is a collective consciousness now there's a collective pause where people are really realizing, wow, we never realized how amazing it was to not have your work be interrupted to have a steady paying paycheck.
You know, for so many of us that hate our jobs, this might be a good time to realize that, all the bitching and complaining isn't serving us and maybe there's a function that it serves. (Having this job and maybe that's what comes out of it) You become a little more grateful for that or you start realizing that maybe you know, Hey uncertainty is always a part of the equation. So what is it that I want to do with my life? A lot of these types of situations can really put into perspective what we want for our lives. It can make us reevaluate and there is a beauty in that. We don't have that time in times of just normal normalcy in times of peace and quiet. A lot of times we get caught up in the drama of our lives and we get upset about our two year old not listening to us or why the house is never clean or whatever.
And it takes things like this to shift that perspective. So I think if there is any room for kind of gratitude and all of this is to really look at how... While you are still doing.... How well things are still going. And I'm really finding the gratitude and you know, I talk a lot on this podcast. I did an episode last Christmas about my gratitude practice. I'm sorry, last Thanksgiving about my gratitude practice. It has changed my life because I think in times like this, it really, I always say that gratitude is easy to practice when things are going well, right? It's in times like these where it forces you to focus your perspective on all the amazing things that are still happening. Right? And so, and seeing the blessing in a lot of this stuff, and I will leave you with my thoughts on if this all goes downward.
I know that a lot of people are very concerned about the economy and it's hard not to when you see that we've never had something like this where the American economy just shut down. You know? I think that when you start seeing things like the NBA and major league baseball and Disneyland and all these places shut down, which has never happened and in a capitalistic society it seems insane. You start wondering, how do we recover from this? And I don't know, I don't have any answer of how we are going to recover, what's going to happen again, there's a million factors that nobody knows. Right? Well what I will say is we've gone through this before and we will get out of it. We come out of it. Now, I'm not saying we’ll come out of it unscathed or that we’ll come out of it without pain, but most of us were around in the 2008 economic crash and it felt like the sky was falling then.
A lot of people, like I have family members that lost their homes and it was a hard time, but they came out of it. Right. And on the podcast, I've had so many interviews and I'm going to try to link them up. I know a couple, I'm going through them right now to see how many interviews, because I know it has come up over and over and over again where my guests were either laid off or equate or what happened in the last recession in 2008 they had a huge upheaval in their lives and at the time it seemed like a disaster and it was the exact thing that led them to starting the business that they wanted or the life that they wanted. And it turned out to be this huge blessing in disguise. And I think it's something to think about, right?
They always say that a lot of people will become rich in a recession. There's so many businesses and startups and amazing things that came out of the 2008 recession. And so I want you to think about that. If you are feeling super fearful about your job, about the situation, about your economic situation, yes, it's going to be hard. I'm not trying to belittle that or say that you shouldn't feel upset or scared, but if you're not in a frenetic kind of place, if you're not in this energy where you are freaking out because now you don't have brain space to think in that space. So if you can get yourself to calm down enough to realize that in every situation opportunities are made and how can you be of service, how can you start that thing that you want to start?
How can you look into the thing that you want to be doing? How can you know that we will come out of this, right? No matter how long it takes. And yes, there might be a change of life and yes there will be whatever there is, but none of that is permanent. None of any of this is permanent, right? Life is not permanent is all ups and downs and we will all kind of get through this together. It can help. And so if you want to listen to - I know a couple of the episodes that we do have episode. I think too with Steve Trang, the man quit his job and became a real estate agent the year before the 2008 crash where we all know what happened with the real estate market, so imagine being a real estate agent in that economy. He now has an over seven-figure business in real estate and has an incredible podcast.
He is mentoring people, he's doing amazing things and he literally thought he had to crawl back and get his engineering job in the 2008 crash. In episode three with Erin Wade, she was a lawyer and during that economic crash she got fired and she decided to put up her whole life savings to start a restaurant during a recession. You guys, that restaurant has become wildly popular - Homeroom in the Oakland Bay area. She has gone on to create her dream business. She has hundreds of employees. She's doing what she loves. Right. In episode 28 I had Paula Pant on and she talked about how she quit her job in 2008 which was thought of as the craziest thing to do. I mean, she talks about how everybody told her she was insane and that she would never get another job. And she started traveling the world and freelancing during the recession.
She has never held another job because she has an uber, uber successful platform on financial advice. She has a podcast that has millions and millions of downloads called Afford Anything. She has tons of rental properties. I mean, she went on to create this empire for herself because she chose not to listen to the conventional wisdom, right? Episode 61 with Lindsey Schwartz, she talks about how she actually didn't even get fired, but it was the 2008 recession where people were all getting fired and she started realizing that nothing is certain. So why not go after her dream? She now has this platform called the powerhouse woman where she is putting on amazing live events and has this incredible mastermind and coaching women and doing these amazing things. Right? So I just want you to understand that with everything there is good and bad and there is a silver lining and there are opportunities and if you can calm your own mind and it's just your own thoughts, if you can calm them down long enough, then you can start creating actual plans and seeing what's actually happening and figuring out what you're going to actually do.
And now again, I'm not saying this, none of this is hard. It is hard, right? But so is sitting in anxiety and freaking out and being depressed and all these other things. So it's kind of choosing what you want. And so I will be back with more resources. I'm happy to help in any way I can. Like I said, reach out to me, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or DM me on Instagram. I would love to chat with you. I hope you guys are all taking care of yourselves, both physically and mentally. And if there's anything else or specific advice that you need, just let me know and I will be back shortly. I do plan on releasing some episodes still because I think maybe you might want some other content besides coronavirus stuff. So, I plan on going back to the regularly scheduled program.
Obviously things may change, but we will deal with it as it comes up and we won't get too anxious about it before that. So stay safe. I love you guys. I'm here for you. Let me know how I can help. Thank you so much for listening. I can't tell you how much it means to me. If you liked the podcast, please rate and review us on iTunes. It'll help other people find the show. If you want to connect or reach out, follow along on Instagram and Facebook @lessonsfromaquitter and on Twitter @quitterpodcast. I would love to hear from you guys and I'll see you on the next episode.