So, I’ve been home now for two weeks. As both my employers are in the education sector, they had to close. When the state of emergency was called for Bavaria, it triggered something in me. For the first five days, I had nightmares. Not linked to the pandemic in an obvious way but I would wake up too scared to go back to sleep. Every time I watched the news, I cried. I am all for crying and releasing emotions but that was not “good crying”. It made me spiral into my fear and it did not feel good whatsoever. I didn’t want to talk to anyone about this as I didn’t want to pass on my fear. I knew and know that there is no reason to panic (well, there never is!). I was thinking about how fortunate I am and how so many people are bearing the brunt of this for all of us. And in addition to all of this I felt shame and guilt. Was I even entitled to feel anxious? Yes, my income has taken a hit but not only am I healthy, I am also sitting comfortably at home while others are putting their health at risk every day. People who have no money to feed their families. Lonely people suffering through this all by themselves. People suffering from other illnesses and dying. And so much more pain. Then I was thinking back to when it all started and I was judging the people who were panic buying, as like many people, I didn't think Germany would be hit so badly. I could go on... but I think you get the picture.
Fortunately for me, I have learned enough over the years (#innerwork ;-)) to know how to manage my emotions as well having faith that everything passes eventually. I learned that pushing those uncomfortable feelings away, doesn’t work in the long run. I learned that I am strong enough to feel it all. The only way is through. And then as quickly as the anxiety had come, it went away. That doesn’t mean I am not taking this seriously. Cause it is serious. But my inner calm has been restored for now.
I read this on Elizabeth Gilbert’s Instagram account:
“Overreacting about people who are overreacting is just another form of overreacting.”
In her caption she explains how we have all experienced fear. And while we might not understand why certain things scare other people, we know what fear feels like.
I am telling you all of the above because one of the things I am (re-)learning through this experience is to not judge myself and others. And to show compassion instead – again for myself and others. We never know what somebody else is going through. We might not understand our own feelings. But they are what they are. Adding guilt and shame and harsh words is never going to help us through this. At the same time, that doesn’t mean we should dwell on our thoughts and feelings either. If we practise mindfulness, we can be aware of what is going on within us and others but we can do this from an observer’s perspective and with kindness and compassion.
Lastly, of course this doesn’t just apply to times of crisis but all the time. Maybe we can all come out of this with more understanding for each other and our own sufferings, whatever form they take.
I hope you are all keeping safe and that by the time I write next month’ blog entry, things will have already improved.