During this unprecedented time of the Pandemic, maintaining emotional wellness is more important than ever. It is easy to allow ourselves to succumb to feelings of fear, alienation, and despair in times of crisis, and uncertainty. The 24-hour news is steadfast in its coverage of the virus; this deepens our apprehension. What will become of us and our loved ones? Will we ever return to our accustomed way of life? Will we lose our jobs, our relationships? What about all the fundamental comforts of life to which we have become astonishingly dependent? How can you bring purpose to your life
Anxiety is predicated on two main fears: fear of the unknown and fear of losing what has already been acquired or attained. Our present crisis strikes a direct blow to our core trust in stability, predictability and our trusted institutions, thereby, attacking our ability to reason rationality and to maintain hope.
The disruption of the corona virus can be witnessed in every fabric of our lives. The economic, social and psychological ramifications are all just beginning to emerge and hope for resuming our normal way of life has been unequivocally called to question.
One can argue that the psychological effects are more deleterious than the economic ramifications and perhaps on par with the physical health dangers. For ages, we have understood that mind-body relationship is a system intertwined and reciprocal; one influencing the other; and both in dysfunction when the other is compromised while trying to bring purpose to your life.
This global pandemic has resulted in underlying societal anxiety not seen since the 9-11 attacks. The present threat renders us all susceptible to contagion and accompanying emotional duress associated with economic uncertainty, social isolation and fundamental disruption to our lives.
The origin of the Latin word crisis, stems from the Ancient Greek word κρίσις, meaning “decision”. Decision is a powerful word, denoting choice and judgment. In the time of our present crisis, we all have the power to choose to view our change in circumstances as an opportunity.
We have the power to embrace and use this unique opportunity to actually enhance our emotional wellness and transform pandemic into an opportunity for meaning and purpose. Here’s how:
Self-discovery and reflection
The Corona Virus pandemic halted our customary, day-to-day living routines and rituals. Many of us were on autopilot as we moved through our days, often with limited time for self-reflection.
The present change in circumstances has provided many with more time and if used as an opportunity, can be devoted towards bringing purpose to your life through the discovery of who we are and what we want out of our limited time on this earth.
The Pandemic not only brings to light that we are all mortal but has invaluably afforded many with the opportunity to reflect on inner core which can then be used as the springboard for how to live more authentic and rich lives. The opportunity in this crisis lies in the gift for more time to contemplative reflection of who we are as humans, as souls. Our focus shifts from merely doing to being.
Self-discovery can be used for reflection into important questions such as:
- Am I living true to myself?
- What or whom and I taking for granted and how can I appreciate them more?
- What are my unique core values and beliefs?
- How can I use my time wisely?
- How can I take better care of myself physically, emotionally, spiritually?
Spiritual focus and attention
The natural advancement of self-discovery and deep contemplative reflection moves towards spirituality. Many research studies including those conducted by Martin Seligman, Rollo May and Abraham Maslow have established the essential role of spirituality in psychological adjustment.
Karl Jung was among the first to attest to the vital role a spiritual life plays in overcoming anxiety, depression and overall psychological dysfunction.
In analyzing the multitude of patients he treated, Jung stated that each “fell ill because he lost that which the living religions of every age have given to their followers, and none of them has been really healed who did not regain his religious outlook”.
For those who are spiritually inclined, the opportunity in this crisis lies in the rededication to spiritual advancement and the gift of peace and tranquility to allow it.
Competency and resiliency
It is my firm belief as a psychologist that competence is the main vehicle which drives progress and achievement. In my work with children, I have observed that the main culprit in failure and underachievement is inexplicitly linked to a lack of opportunity to develop competency.
Learning to succeed in the face of adversity is a fundamental trait that separates those from who succeed and those who fall short. Competency is only gained when there is a risk of failure and leads to bringing purpose to your life. In fact, the process of failure, followed by careful analysis and the implementation of novel strategies is integral process of self-discovery and the advancement of oneself.
Through competency, we learn to become resilient. Resiliency is typically defined as the capacity to recover from difficult life events. Essentially, it is the ability with withstand obstacles, overcome adversity, and bounce back with determination.
The opportunity in this crisis is to develop competence through perseverance in our most challenging time. The opportunity in this crisis if enacted, will pay exponential dividends in strengthening resiliency, the core characteristics that will set you apart from the pack.
In times of quarantine, who can be blamed for ordering more pizza than usual or binge-watching Netflix?
While it is important to nurture and treat oneself during challenging times, it is also essential to remain productive.
The opportunity in this crisis permits many of us to maximize our productivity. With more time and less distraction, opportunities to expand our productivity is a rare gift in modern living.
Call yourself to action to initiate those creative endeavors and ambitious projects you just never had the time for.
With less noise from work and social commitments, the time is ripe to embark on a new side-hustle, learn a language, or pick up that old 6-string.
When the quarantine is lifted, you want to be able to look back and honestly say you used your time wisely, efficiently and rose to the occasion to fulfill objectives you previously had no time for.
The modern advancement of technology such as messaging apps and social media is not above reproach. Fortunately, if used wisely, it can help you stay connected with friends and loved ones.
Social distancing does not necessitate social isolation, with all the tools we have at our disposal.
The opportunity in this crisis to reconnect with old friends, strengthen friendships, advance collegial relationships, and above all support each other. The time is ripe for meaningful connections, mending fences, and the promotion of good will.
Transcendence is the progression and culmination of rising above the self and relating to that which is greater than the self.
Simply stated, transcendence involves the recognition that you are one small part of a greater whole, and then to act accordingly for the greater good and to bring purpose to your life.
The quintessential example of transcendence is Victor Frankl’s immense personal suffering during the Holocaust of World War II. In his seminal book, Man’s Search for Meaning, Frankl illustrates how he was able to transcend his great personal suffering through the attainment of meaning and purpose. Victor Frankl’s message is one of optimism, faith and finding meaning even in the most tragic circumstances. He believed that man has the capacity and responsibility to choose his own attitude and actions based on his own inner purpose. He chose to respond to fear with fortitude, to tragedy with hope and to atrocities with love.
The opportunity in this crisis is to transcend our own personal suffering through the development of purpose and meaning, all the while, to serve for the greater good of society, with an emphasis on gratitude, service, the promotion of good will and enactment of good deeds.
Bio: Joseph Graybill, Ph.D is an American Psychologist, licensed in New York. Dr. Graybill is the psychologist at the Anglo-American School in Moscow and maintains an online clinical practice. He can be contacted here.