Managing Your Internal State During Uncertainty
© Sage Friedman
In the current challenges we face, and while so much is uncertain, we find ourselves with an opportunity to learn to manage our internal state.
With so much of our habitual daily life disrupted and many working from home for the first time, we are most certainly being invited inwards. If we accept the invitation with a curious mindset, we all have the potential to learn to master our internal state. Such ability frees us up from the fear of the unknown. It gives us the confidence to know that whatever challenges, thoughts, feelings or emotions we may experience in the future, we are equipped to meet them.
In my experience, learning to navigate and master the internal state consists of equal parts surrender and acceptance alongside active participation in the choices and actions that support us. The two go hand in hand, each supporting the other and allowing for greater ease and flow when they do.
So, how do we manage our internal state during times of uncertainty? Here are a few practical tips and tools to help:
Take things one day at a time, one moment at a time.
Something I call the ‘single breath practice’ is simply to take one deep conscious breath noticing the inhale and the exhale. Use it to slow down, bring yourself into the simplicity of the present moment and let go of anything you don’t need in that moment.
Focus on what’s in your control.
While so much is out of our control, this is a perfect invitation to pay attention to what is in our control. Instead of thinking about what you can’t do, think about what you can.
In the great words of Theodore Roosevelt, “do what you can, with what you have, and where you are.”
When you experience difficult thoughts, feelings or emotions try to wrap both them and you in love and acceptance. Allow yourself to be a normal human being experiencing normal human thoughts, feelings and emotions. Try this simple breath practice when they arise:
- Inhale through the nose for a count of 4.
- Exhale gently through the mouth for a count of 6 while mentally saying to yourself ‘let go.’
- Repeat for 5 to 10 breaths anytime challenging thoughts, feelings or emotions arise.
I also recommend practising as a longer meditation practice. The words ‘let go’ are an invitation to surrender anything that passes through you, without a need to avoid or resist it in any way. Breathe through it all. Over time you will be surprised at the things that surface for you to let go of, and your life will feel all the lighter for doing so.
On the subject of letting go, what else in your life are you ready to let go of now? Are there any outgrown ways of being that you could allow to drop away as we go through this transition into life the other side of coronavirus. What would you like to leave behind? Perhaps it’s trusting that all that falls away is meant to. Maybe it’s letting go of needing to have all the answers right now.
You’re worth valuing, loving, and respecting.
Managing your internal state means taking care of your wellbeing. It means valuing yourself enough to genuinely care about yourself. Take this opportunity to let go of any harsh inner-critic thoughts you have about yourself, and invite a more loving and nurturing approach to lifestyle choices.
Use the single breath practice to get fully present and ask yourself, “What is the most loving choice I can make for myself right now?”
Working from home.
The above tips will also help you to navigate the challenges of working from home, which can be blissful and anything but. If you are living with others, honouring each other’s needs as best you can and maintaining honest and open communication will help to navigate the challenges of working and living together. If you are living on your own, staying connected with others will remind you that you are never alone.
Dropping perfectionism tendencies will ease some of the inevitable frustrations that may arise when trying to adapt to the current situation. Allow yourself time to get better at it all, remembering all things improve with practice. Try to be patient and kind to yourself as well as others. We all have our good days, bad days, and maybe an odd meltdown moment. It’s all OK.
Talking of the home, how does yours feel to live in? Does it create a space for you to feel supported and inspired? Perhaps now is the time to check-in and make any changes to your living space that might be overdue. Maybe that’s clearing clutter or letting go of stuff you don’t need to enable you to appreciate that which you do.
When everything is up in the air.
When everything is uncertain, and much of our daily life has been disrupted, it is natural to crave stability and certainty. The irony is that in times like this when our daily routines have been significantly disrupted that it’s perhaps easier to bring in new habits. After all, our regular habits have been turned upside down, and our old way of being has been blown out of the water.
During this time of uncertainty, focus on who you want to be. Who would you like to be as a person? How would that person behave? What lifestyle choices would they make? How would they treat themselves? How would they treat others? What would they stop wasting time on? What would they start spending time on?
While your life has been uprooted and while nothing is set in stone, now is the perfect opportunity to review and re-write anything you want to. Having decided what that is and who you want to be, start living it now – from the inside out. That is true self-mastery.
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