A time for self-reflection

Good god, this COVID-19 situation is scary. I’m so glad to see U.S. citizens taking it seriously; my heart has been warmed at the ways people are taking care of each other. I hope that you are reading this safe at home with a full pantry and a plentiful but not hoarded amount of toilet paper.

My organization has mandated that people work from home, to enforce social distancing and do what we can to flatten the curve. For me, this is not terribly difficult. I miss my coworkers, but I’m an introvert and love getting into my groove without distraction. Also, working from home, for me, means I’ve been given the gift of time! No commuting. Less time getting ready in the morning (not that I spent tons of time anyway). More time to attend to my home since I take all breaks here: “I need to get away from my computer for a few minutes… let’s dust the bookshelves!”. Most importantly, I have time to think. To think about all this and all my reactions and what is really truly going on in my head.

My teleworking situation does not suck.

The thing about COVID-19 is that it’s not just about COVID-19, right? These things never are. But if you are like me, this level of unprecedented social change, however temporary, is bringing up a lot of thoughts and feelings. With social distancing, I actually have some time to be still, to be alone with my thoughts (meaning away from absorbing the feelings of others all day every day as an INFJ/HSP), and really dig down into what is underlying and giving rise to these thoughts and feelings.

And there are a LOT of emotions around COVID-19 — not just my own. From what I’ve seen, my friends and community have been feeling:

  • Fear
  • Guilt
  • Anxiety
  • Optimism
  • Joy
  • Guilt about feeling joy
  • Relief
  • Anger
  • Hope
  • Love

I think this is an unusually revelatory situation (a global pandemic impacting every single aspect of our lives) and time (social distancing and quarantine) to sit with each emotion in turn and try to understand what is giving rise to those emotions. Specifically, to discover (because we don’t always know) and think about what we believe and why. What are the beliefs that I am holding to? Are they good beliefs? Are they bad beliefs? Do I want to keep them or change them?

I recently read Making Peace with Imperfection by Dr. Elliot D. Cohen, and what I appreciated most about the book was how Cohen pulled out and made me confront the beliefs giving rise to my perfectionism. I found it enormously revealing and even comforting in a way. It showed me that there are things I can change, that there are events in my life that gave rise to false beliefs that I can confront, that there is hope for me to shuck off the burden of unachievable perfectionism and live a whole, happy, me-accepting life. I’d like to continue that work in areas beyond my perfectionism.

This certainly applies to far more than just perfectionism. What we believe determines the way we experience the world. The way we experience the world gives rise to emotions. Those emotions majorly impact our quality of life, the quality of our decision-making, and the quality of our relationships. I plan to use some of my social distancing time to discover some of my beliefs and set myself free of those that are harming me.

Because we can’t release what we don’t realize we’re holding.

Over the next few weeks, I am going to practice the following:

  1. Identify what beliefs are giving rise to a particular emotion I’m feeling;
  2. Identify what is making those beliefs feel good or bad;
  3. Evaluate whether or not those beliefs are rational;
  4. Create and speak out loud new, additional or replacement but still truer, beliefs.

If this is a process or a practice that might be helpful for you, I invite you to join me. We can all come out of this situation healthier and more self-aware than we were before, with better and more wellbeing-conducive beliefs. It just takes some intention and some time.

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