How Do You Take Action In Uncertain Times?
Are you getting upset and angry because you are overwhelmed? Do you feel that the tide is getting high and you have no respite? Is this pandemic getting on your nerves and you don’t know how to get work done? If this is you, rest in the knowledge that you are not alone and we are all running our version of crazy.
But the key question I ask myself is – how do we cope with the madness, isolation, and craziness and still take action in uncertain times?
The ground reality
Besides the threat to life and the danger of the infection spreading, we are also battling other issues. I, for example, have vulnerable parents living in another country and a sibling who stays in a different continent which takes 24 hours to travel from England. With all the restrictions around, I may not be able to help them should the need arise. This brings about enough feelings of complete helplessness and incapacity. Besides that, there’s added pressure of working from home to earn the moolah, home-schooling the kids and ensuring the house doesn’t start resembling a zoo. I also need to keep food on the table to physically nourish ourselves. In short, I cannot be living with love and fresh air only and the pressure seems to be mounting from all sides. So I get it.
If that isn’t enough, there is containment as well. So there’s no escape or breathing space to make me feel normal. I can’t take my quiet walk any more or I do my favourite thing as there are so many things on the must -not- do list. Basically, in a nutshell, I am trying to cope with the new lifestyle that has been thrust on me without my consent. My home is now the hub of all activities and I am the new CEO and I find myself haggling to even have a cuppa tea in peace. That is enough to bring out the worst in me. So how do I get a tiny bit of space to give me my sanity?
How do we cope and gain perspective?
Accept the situation and the associated feelings it brings up
The first thing to do when you find yourself spiralling downwards is a gentle reminder that this is not a normal situation, but a pandemic. No one expects us to be our perfect selves or leading our perfect lives in such a situation. So don’t pressurise yourself into being Super Lady in an ‘underwear’ juggling all your jobs efficiently. If a pandemic doesn’t shake the foundations of our being, nothing else will. So thankfully this is a clear sign that we haven’t turned to my favourite IRobot Roomba yet.
The next thing to do is to embrace your humanness by accepting your feelings of fear, anger, irritation and impatience. This is a huge one for me because I like playing superhero and being some infallible creature. I am a sucker for that role. But I gently remind myself without bruising my fragile ego that it okay not to be a superhero all the time. You could remind yourself of our body mechanics and how this is a perfect situation for the amygdala to go on overdrive. So after a bit of internal tug of war with myself, I learn to be kind and indulge in some ‘self-acceptance’ albeit hesitantly. Damn my ego! When will it learn? But I learn to play along.
How do we keep calm and take action in uncertain times?
I start taking action in uncertain times by first filling my cup of reserves to nourish myself. This is so that I can do everything I am called to do in the best possible way I can, keeping in mind my limitation and the circumstances. Some of the ways I do that are mentioned below:
Take action in uncertain times by changing the narrative
I have learned that there are always two ways of looking at things. One is through the lens of punishment and the other is through the lens of transformation. The narrative we take will influence our thoughts, behaviour and feelings and it is important we make a choice that is kinder to ourselves. We can look at this as an opportunity to evolve or we can look at it as though, we as a human race, screwed up, and now we are paying for that shit. The choice is ours!
Evolution and growth have historically always been a messy affair and never has been pretty. It involves a lot of losses and is scary and frightful, but still, it is a better way of seeing it through the lens of transformation rather than fear. Let us look at how we can tilt the tide to give us breathing space.
Take action in uncertain times by using this time wisely
Instead of reading whats app forwards and news obsessively, I learned to accept, that beyond a point, it doesn’t help anyone to read about doomsday. We can only do so much! So I focus on what I can control and leave the things I cant control for now. Instead, I devote that time in calming measures like exercise, reading, prayer, playing with the kids etc. That boost of oxytocin in my body does wonders! After I have gorged on some of that Oxytocin I move to the next.
Take action in uncertain times by giving yourself permission to rest
Rest is one of the most underutilised word /behaviour of modern society. We want to finish everything like there is no tomorrow. I am no exception and often behave as though everything is urgent and cannot wait. Instead of rushing, I give myself some ‘me’ time to rest, relax and have a cup of tea peacefully. Time is not running away anywhere. In Genesis, it is said that God rested on the 7th day. He did not over-do it but took his break.
So instead of running myself ragged, I slowly learn to rest because tomorrow is not going anywhere. So I stop chasing it and try to savour every moment of today.
Take action in uncertain times by breaking your tasks into smaller chunks
When God decided to create the world, he didn’t do it all in one day. Did he? He did it in stages. So also, it is easier when I break my tasks into smaller do-able chunks. If the Almighty did not do it all in one day, why should I pressurise myself into doing things asap? Things are going to slow down because of the pandemic and rushing it won’t get it done faster. This pretty much sounds like common sense, but most often when we are in overdrive or overwhelm common sense tends to evade us.
Take action in uncertain times by giving yourself some grace
I have a nasty habit of keeping the bar unfairly high at all times. Christ gave a perfect example of how we aren’t expected to be perfect at all times. He fell thrice with the weight of the cross during his trials. It is time we embrace our imperfections, falls and slip-ups, which are part of our human DNA and give ourselves some grace. We can try our best, but if it fails, tomorrow is always to the rescue.
Take action in uncertain times by forgiving yourself 70*7
When I slip, fall, make mistakes, get angry or could have done better, I forgive myself. I do it even if I slip again on the same thing foolishly! I believe this is what Christ meant when he said to forgive 70 times 7. The Lord knew the ride was never meant to be easy and that we would probably fall a million times before we get right. So it is alright to get stuff wrong. But the important thing is to forgive and move on. When I practise forgiveness on myself first, it becomes easier for me to forgive others
Take action in uncertain times by being a Veronica to yourself
When the going gets tough, and it probably will, I try to be kind to myself and show myself and others some love. I try to be a Veronica to myself and show compassion especially when I am feeling low and scared.
Take action in uncertain times by putting your oxygen mask first
Just like the flight attendant in the airplane tells us to put our oxygen mask first, before we put on our child’s in case of a mishap, in life as well, I learned it is better to put my oxygen mask first. I have found that helping another without my reserves full doesn’t serve anyone well. It is only when they are full I can help others gracefully. The following verse helps me put things into perspective:
Our desire is not that others might be relieved while you are hard pressed, but that there might be equality. At the present time, your plenty will supply what they need, so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need. The goal is equality, as it is written: “The one who gathered much did not have too much, and the one who gathered little did not have too little.”
2 Corinthian 8 ( 13–15)
Take action in uncertain times by spending time in your inner room to introspect
I introspect on the big picture and ask important questions like: What am I called to do? What is this asking of me? I have found a special wonder in a personal prayer wherein I have a one to one conversation with God and seek his guidance.
But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
Take action in uncertain times by using this time for transformation
Just like the caterpillar transforms into a butterfly, uncertainties help us to become our version of the butterfly. This is like the cocoon period which is difficult and may cause some havoc but is important for transformation. How do I go about with that? My perennial excuse for everything in life, like everyone else, is that I didn’t have time. Now I have ample of it and use it to make changes I want to make.
Take action in uncertain times by having fun
I make time for fun because I believe that God loves us and he gave us this life to enjoy ourselves, have fun, and to make the best of what we can. After all, all work and no play made Jack a dull boy. So despite what’s happening around us, I make time for the things I love. For example, I use technology to my advantage and keep in touch with the people I love. I also learn new hobbies and skills on the internet with the time I have and I play silly games with my kids and husband. I fill myself with love and fill others with love.
The last but not the least is to take action for without it everything else is wishful thinking. After filling my reserves adequately, I finally take action i.e I try to do the best I possibly can. Some days are better than others, but instead of getting discouraged or comparing days, I look at the final vision and move ahead one baby step at a time.
To sum it up: How do you take action in uncertain times?
So when in doubt or overwhelm, consciously stop yourself in the tracks and calm yourself. After you do that, fill your reserves with kindness, compassion forgiveness and prayer. Then remind yourself of the big picture and take action as best as you possibly can.
Let us look at the passage below and let Mary inspire us to take the right action. Let us like Mary choose the better part in every situation.
Now as they went on their way, he entered a certain village, where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. She had a sister named Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to what he was saying. But Martha was distracted by her many tasks; so she came to him and asked, ‘Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself? Tell her then to help me.’ But the Lord answered her, ‘Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; there is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her.’ Luke 10.38
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