How To Find Hope And Embrace Uncertainty During This Crazy Time

Covid -19 has everyone in a panic, including an existential one. Find out how you can embrace it all

Few things in life give people more pause than when facing an uncertain future and brush with their own mortality. The Covid 19 pandemic is one of those things. There is however, a way to find real hope and real relief, during this uncertain and unprecedented time. 

It’s a strategy and practice called getting into the “Hope - Zone”. It can help people turn their fears into a felt sense of fearlessness, and empower them to stay grounded while weathering through this storm.  It’s also the key to taking this all one day at a time, one moment at a time, and then emerging from this transformed for the better. 

And the good news is, this strategy can be implemented right now. But before doing so, let’s get clear on what finding hope is and isn’t and why it’s necessary both now and after now.

Finding real hope is not about wishful thinking, reciting positive affirmations and choosing to force feed a “hopeful” belief  that everything will be ok. Because right now, everything is far from that.

As of now, many people have a cacophony of contradictory thoughts, beliefs and feelings flooding their psyche all at once.  Some have rational, logical parts of themselves that believe in a few weeks or months this will all pass. At the same time, they also have parts of themselves that aren’t so sure and feel scared and panicked. Some worry and fear that this is just the beginning and there are many more unknowns still to come. 

It’s almost like people have their own personal inner jam bands of polarizing thoughts, beliefs and feelings happening inside themselves, trying to play a survival song that’s totally out of tune and sync. WIth everyone having their own version of this song and shouting it out loud,  it’s creating a lot of noise and chaos, both outwardly and internally.

Some are worried about getting sick.  Some fear that a family member might get sick. Many are worried that the hospitals are getting overwhelmed and not everyone will get the care they need.  Adding on to all the health stress, many feel terrified over possibly losing their jobs (some already have), retirement funds, going broke, and all the other potential devastating economic consequences that will affect their lives. 

No matter what the fear, thought or belief though, there is a resource of “hope” that people have inside of themselves that will help them get grounded, back in tune, and in sync.

Finding real hope in this crisis, is about committing to a practice that will help people authentically honor, validate and quell all their different thoughts, feelings, concerns, and impulses etc. It’ will help people stay sane during the insanity.  With time and consistent practice, It will also help them deepen into a more authentic experience of themselves and even develop a stronger relational skill set too. Practicing it is a win win both now and going forward.

Since this crisis is still so new, the thought of “ deepening into oneself” most likely, isn’t high on most’s priority lists.  The hour by hour breaking news reports of increased case numbers and mortality statistics has so many people feeling panicked and on edge. Glued to their televisions and social media channels, almost everyone is on the verge of psychic exhaustion and adrenal fatigue.  

That being said, the number one psychological priority for most people at this time, is to find some moments of peace, calm, quiet and relief. Even if it’s for just a minute or two a day. And that is very possible.

The practice of getting into the “Hope-Zone” offers simple strategies that will help your brilliant left analytical brain that’s in overdrive right now trying to figure everything out, not work so hard. While that part of you is very needed in this time of turbulence; to help you plan, plot and prepare for what’s next; it may also be inadvertently traumatizing you too. Healthy doses of worry motives people into action. But too much of it can cause a sort of overdose that’s hard to recover from.

That’s where your right intuitive brain and body can come to the rescue and offer you some real relief and inspired ideas on what to do next. That’s what the “Hope -Zone” is.  There are many ways to practice getting in there, but here’s one simple one to try.

  • Take a few minutes to do the following: 
  • Close your eyes and scan your body for tension. 
  • Connect with your breath and see if those pockets of tension can soften just by focussing on them and your breath.  
  • Perhaps bring one hand to your heart and the other to your stomach and just follow your breath cycle for 10-20 breaths.
  • Then ask yourself this question: If I wasn’t panicking, freaking out, obsessing, trying to figure it all out;  what would I rather be doing? 
  • Listen to all the different answers that bubble up inside of you.
  • Continue focussing on your breath and body sensations and listen as more thoughts, feelings, ideas, worries and concerns come to mind.
  • Validate them all- no matter how ridiculous some may seem. 
  • Now, write them all down and then take 5 minutes to do some stream of conscious journaling about all of them (complete sentences are not required).
  • When you are finished journaling, close your eyes and follow your breath for another 10-20 cycles.
  • Open your eyes and notice any small shifts or changes inside of yourself, that you may be experiencing.

Chances are, by practicing this, you found a moment or two of respite. Keep practicing it and you will find a moment or two more.  And each moment adds up to more time spent in the “Hope- Zone”. This is needed, because your next coronavirus freakout will come and happen again and again.  But so too can this feeling of quiet in the chaos. 

It’s this feeling that gives people a sense of hope and inspires creative solutions that your left analytical brain just isn’t capable of. It’s a feeling that can only happen when you shift your focus from the external to the internal.  

The more you practice doing the above, the more you will experience the reservoir of inner peace, quiet and hope, that you have inside of you. And that will help soothe the stress response that pretty much everyone is experiencing right now.   

Yet, as the crisis begins to normalize, everyone’s internal anxiety will shift too. The mandated social distancing / sheltering in place orders,that will most likely get extended, will positively affect public health, but will complicate the psychological health for many.  The collective setlists of peoples’ inner jam bands will change as new thoughts, concerns, worries, and impulses emerge.

This pandemic will stir up a new flavor of anxiousness. An existential one to be exact.

People may begin to ruminate over deeper questions such as: what’s the purpose of my life? What matters to me most? How do I live my life to the fullest? How do I love the way I most want to?  And last but not least, what if I die before I ever really get to live?

Like Shakespeare’s Hamlet who torments himself when he wonders what will happen “when we shuffle off our mortal coil”, this pandemic will have many finding themselves facing their own existential “rub” while wearing it.

The same strategy that will help quiet the initial survival panic, will also help quiet the deeper transpersonal panic that many in this crisis will eventually begin to experience.

And when that happens, do the same practice as above where you focus on your breath and body sensations and then, ask yourself this line of questions: 

  • “f I could tap into my inner resource of courage I would do: (fill in the blank)
  • “If I could tap into my inner resource of confidence I would try: 
  • “If I could tap into my inner resource of creativity, I would do:
  • “If I could tap into my inner resource of compassion I would forgive myself for: 

Then take some time to journal about your answers including any fears and negative thoughts or beliefs that come up. Then notice how you feel. Did you feel a little flash of courage, or confidence? Did you feel a spark of creativity and get some ideas that you could try?  And most importantly, were you able to feel any compassion towards yourself?

The last is always a tough one for most.  But keep practicing getting into the “Hope - Zone” this way, and in time, your heart will open towards yourself.  And the more self compassion you have, the greater relational capacity you will have for others, including your partner.

So there you have it. A simple real hope strategy to help you face and embrace all the nuances of uncertainty  during this crazy time. You can start to feel better now, by taking some time to access your right intuitive brain and body and giving your left analytical brain a much needed break.

And because everyone is experiencing this crisis, practicing getting into the “Hope-Zone” consistently, will also help those who do, learn how to come to terms with their own mortality. There will be tragic and unnecessary loss during this time.  But that is also true of anytime. 

Now is a time for people to identify what matters most to them. It’s a time for those who wish, dream and dare, to choose to live their lives to the fullest, do their best, and have the courage to be their true selves.  

There’s nothing like the wisdom from The Fiddler on the Roof’s most well known song to offer everyone a small nugget of certainty and celebration of life during our collective brush with mortality. It’s a choral line, which, roughly paraphrased is this;   The sun will rise and the sun will set. Swiftly will flow this year. One season will follow this from another, and it will be laden with both happiness and tears.

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Maura Matarese, M.A., LMHC, R.Y.T. is a psychotherapist, author and speaker practicing in Sudbury, M.A.  If you would like to learn more about how you can practice finding real hope during this unprecedented time, check out her new online course: Finding Hope After Heartbreak: Learn The Secret How To Start Feeling Better NowThere’s Also a free mini-course version that you can try first.

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