This is my fourth lockdown experience in my life and I would love to share what I discovered in my past tries at it. What I mean by previous lockdowns is that I have had 3 long, extended stints in hospital where I was confined to bed and suddenly forced to stop my life until further notice without prior warning. The first was at 28 weeks’ pregnancy with my son when I went into premature labour, the second was at 20 weeks pregnancy with my daughter when I was confined to bed at home until 28 weeks when again I was put in hospital, until her birth. Nothing wrong with me at all, just responsible to keep confined in order to save my babies. The last was when I was in fact ill. At first, I was in isolation, so people were not allowed to visit and if they did, they had to be covered and keep their distance, then when I was no longer infectious, I just had to lie there. This time the responsibility was only to me. This was far easier. This new lockdown that we all face, has millions more complexities, but I do feel I can draw on what I learnt previously to sustain me and in case that is helpful to you too, I’m writing about it here in this blog.
We have to consciously develop an appetite for uncertainty. Not knowing what’s coming next or how this is going to unfold, it's tempting to keep trying to nail it down and figure it out, but this doesn’t help. The outcome remains unknown and the only moment is the one that exists now.
We must literally embrace not knowing and make the feelings not knowing evokes bigger, instead of trying to suppress or avoid these feelings. The sooner we surrender to not knowing, the easier it becomes and the less energy we will waste trying to figure it all out. We don’t know and that’s the way it is.
It's tempting when we can't control things to use denial to help us cope, pretending to ourselves that we don’t feel the way we do feel. Sometimes we try to control what we can control extra tightly. Trying to control our children, our food consumption, our space and our work situation. This over-control strategy, doesn’t help in the long term, it's just a strategy and it will fail eventually rather than give us real solace. Maybe a better strategy is to surrender to the lack of control, acknowledge all it brings up and be present with that.
I remember lying in hospital and being unable to control who came in the door or when they would come in. I was unable to control when they brought food or tea. I found that practicing accepting and allowing the out of control-ness, made it easier. And then it really helped to focus on what I could control. I think we can use this technique in this time. We can't control the situation and if we can just let go of trying, it will make it easier. We can control what is ours to control, like how we use our time.
Safety comes first was the mantra for me then and it's the mantra now… we have to make safety the pinnacle of every decision we make. At times it's grey and not black and white, but we must keep filtering our choices through the “safety first sieve”. How can we make the best choice for the safety of all?
Try to use the time well, it's a gift. That doesn’t mean be in permanent production, it is a slow down time. But each day is precious, so enjoy it and use it wisely for what you really want to use it for.
Read, discover, learn and create.
Help but not so much it harms you. Help just the right amount.
Allow the waves of emotions to come and go. When you feel anxious, or desperate be present with that, it will pass. When you feel euphoric and grateful be with that, it too will pass. Stay fascinated with the range of feelings that come up for you at this time. Each one is worth feeling!
It's difficult right now. Home schooling children while working from home, being in a confined space with no release, business being almost at a stand still, no clue how long this will all last…. it's tough and it's nowhere near over! But I leave you with this African proverb: However long the night may last, there will be a morning. Stay strong and stay safe! Love Sue