“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” — Victor Frankl
Choosing my response this week…again:
When we take a step back and look at this year 2020, perhaps we will see, so far, that it is full of “who would have thought that could happen?” events.
For many of us, these changes, the unexplained, unpredictable and uncontrollable are deep sources of stress and anxiety and fear! What do we do when the world around us is changing so rapidly that it is filled with deep uncertainty at best. Last week, parts of the world were full of very fearsome, confusing events.
And what do we do when yet another set of events that we never could have imagined is actually happening?
I will get personal for a moment and say what I do most. I take a deep breath and ground myself. And this is the really personal part: A while ago, I started choosing to accept the idea that ‘this isn’t happening to me; it is happening for me’…I remember that the control I thought I had in my life has always only been an illusion. I have just been very lucky and very blessed that sometimes what I wanted and expected to happen and hoped would happen in my life matched up with the Master of the Universe’s plans. Then I have to look at the Micro and Macro picture.
Micro: In my world, yes, I can’t see certain members of my family in person and we can’t celebrate simchas and holidays in the way we are used to, but we still have—when we look for them—buckets and barrels of blessings! I am working very, very hard to keep my self-talk positive.
I have my health, I have my home, I have devices to be able to connect with my family and friends. I can breathe. But most of all, throughout the quarantine and the events we witnessed last week, I am ‘controlling my narrative’ as the saying goes. I am NOT watching news, barely looking at my news feed, and I am not on Instagram or Facebook (I will not even capitalize the word as my auto-correct does). I have long avoided these social media platforms because I know myself: I need to protect my mind to be able to fulfill what I hope is my purpose in life.
And I am breathing in the deep fresh air of the less polluted world because there are fewer commuters. Did you hear there are dolphins swimming in the canals of Venice since this pandemic started? What a lovely image! I am also getting started with exercise again and appreciating walks with the family who are with me.
I am getting better at thinking through my risk assessment of COVID-19 exposure when I make decisions to go out. I weigh the odds of my safety and my mental health. Sometimes I take calculated risks and protect myself while taking them (with no regrets once my decision is made). So today, I am calling friends and doing physical distancing walks.
Overall, I am trying to connect to the plan that the Universe has for me at every moment, because, for me, that is the only way to look at the Macro events that are happening, especially last week.
Macro: If we have to choose what we think, and we do, we have to choose what we let into our worlds. That is why we chose to be part of Kol HaCovid. We don’t let strangers into our homes. At the moment we cannot even let beloved family members into our homes. And yet…are we letting media strangers into our homes? Are we letting ourselves be controlled by a narrative not of our own choosing? It is understandable to feel afraid in these very uncertain times, but it is also important to remember that brave means having fear but doing what needs to be done anyway. If we live in fear, we are ‘wearing unhelpful glasses’. Is it time to change our glasses? To see the world with new eyes again? Live from our faith in our personal power. This journey of life is giving us challenges to help us grow, and grow closer to the Ultimate Plan of the Universe? Tune into messages such as Brené Brown’s: “What we know matters, but who we are matters more.”
So perhaps some good questions to conclude: Can I start thinking about protecting my mind? Am I aware of my values? Are my values reflected in my actions? What do I think of the statement: If you are not part of the solution, you may be part of the problem? Am I noticing the good things in my life? Am I appreciating the good things in my life? Am I celebrating those good things?
Wishing you a wonderful Shabbas,
Dr. Chaya Glogauer, PhD, CPsych, on behalf of the Mental Health Committee
(June 12, 2020)
**If you are experiencing any distress due to the COVID virus, please reach out to Amudim’s free confidential support line (718) 972-3000 or call Toronto RELIEF Resources at (416) 789-1600.**