A guest blog submission by Karen Schlaegel.
At the time of writing, the world is going through a pandemic. The Corona virus is dominating the news worldwide. It’s something we have never experienced and it is affecting every single one of us (without a doubt, some more than others).
And while the pandemic is unprecedented in this form, we all know and have experienced that life can be tough. We have all faced challenges of varying degrees. And when I say “challenges”, I also mean heart-breaking pain that at times seems all-consuming and which we feel we’ll never recover from. So, is it cynical to talk about staying positive in times of crisis? Is it even feasible?
While I agree that even during our darkest moments, we can take away a life lesson, a positive mindset to me doesn’t mean that we should push away feelings of pain and simply plaster over them with “positive feelings”. Cultivating a positive attitude does not equal denial of everything else nor does it mean forcing ourselves to look for the positives in everything.
So, what does a positive mindset look like then? And is it something we can maintain during our darkest moments or do we need to accept that it becomes useless during crisis times like these? I personally believe a positive mindset makes a huge difference to how we live our lives and how we cope with shitstorms. But it really mustn’t be mistaken for being happy all the time.
Here are the elements that I consider crucial in cultivating a positive mindset and the combination of which helps me personally to navigate life’s “challenges” (aka shitstorms).
- Feel it all.
This can be tough. Much tougher than it sounds. I certainly have the tendency of wanting to avoid painful emotions. We sometimes feel that if we let ourselves feel the pain fully, we’ll never recover. We feel it’s too much to endure. But trying to suppress them just means that they’ll resurface again. And again. Try to sit with all feelings. Cry and scream if you feel like it. Breathe mindfully to get yourself through the storm of emotions raging inside.
- Acceptance and self-compassion
We often exacerbate our feelings by getting frustrated with ourselves. When the whole Corona crisis kicked off, I had a few very heavy days. I felt very scared. At the same time, I also felt shame and guilt to even feel that way, when others were putting their lives at risks every single day – while I was sat safely at home. You are most likely always going to find somebody who is worse off than you – but that doesn’t take away your pain and it doesn’t make your feelings any less valid. It can certainly help to put things into perspective, but it does not help to condemn ourselves for feeling them in the first place (by the way, this also applies to judging other people’s feelings ). We need to accept our feelings as they are. And just as you would with a...
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