EMPOWERING BELIEFS IN THE TIME OF COVID 19
09 Apr 2020
Tags: VirtualEMDR , PTSD , Depression , Anxiety , Trauma
What would you give to go back to your life as it was before Covid-19, just mere months ago? Can you even remember where you were on 31 December 2019 (yes, that long ago!) - and all the exciting plans that you had carefully made for 2020?
Maybe, like many people, you were looking forward to getting married, or graduating from college, or starting a new job, or expanding your business, or finally retiring, or traveling to new countries.
Whatever you had wished for when the clock struck midnight on New Year, many of those plans have now been tossed aside. At best, they are merely postponed until “this is over”, and not cancelled forever.
THE MENTAL HEALTH TOLL OF COVID-19
There is hardly one part of all our lives that Covid-19 has not touched. In its place, this potent virus has left us with constant:
- • Anxiety over our health, knowing that no matter how careful or healthy we are, we are always just one unlucky touch or swipe away from getting infected
- • Fear of unintentionally exposing our loved ones (particularly the elderly or sick) or those who rely on us (such as our patients or customers) to this virus which can lie undetected for weeks
- • Grief over losing loved ones and not being able to be there for them in their final moments
- • Depression over being physically separated from family and friends for extended periods of time, unable to give or receive comfort using human connection as we are used to
- • Uncertainty and Stress over lost jobs, income, watching careers and businesses that were painstakingly built over years collapse in a matter of days
- • Guilt at having to make life-or-death decisions that will irreparably harm those who trust us, such as patients, employees, vendors
- • Anger and Frustration at decision-makers and circumstances that led us to this situation
... and many other strong emotions
In times like this, it is easy to let the litany of emotions sweep over us. It is tough to feel in control when everything seems out of control. It’s easier to blame, to feel angry, to give up, to give in to our fear, anxiety, and depression.
USING VIRTUAL EMDR TO GAIN CONTROL OF YOUR EMOTIONS
If you have used Virtual EMDR before, you’ll know that the power of EMDR lies in using Eye Movement (which science shows is linked to our brain’s neural networks) to regain control over our emotions.
Controlling our emotions - or more appropriately, controlling what emotional associations we assign to our memories - give us control over our behavior, our state, our beliefs about ourselves, and ultimately determines the direction of our lives.
Whatever events happen in the external world (even something as drastic as Covid-19), it has ZERO power until we give it power through our internal association
• If we choose to assign it an association such as “fear”, “stress”, or “anger”, that is the power we give it and what we inevitably experience.
- • Alternatively, if we choose to assign it an association such as “excitement”, “acceptance”, or the most powerful of all, “gratitude”, then this is the power we give it and what we experience.
This is why the same event can happen to two people, but how both respond and come away from it depends on the internal associations they have given to it. Perhaps you have heard of Viktor Frankl, who chose to see the positive and the possibility even amidst the horror and despair of Nazi concentration camp. As a result, he came away from WWII with a very different experience and sense of purpose than many of his peers.
What if you could harness your internal Viktor Frankl that is within all of us? How would you react to your current circumstances differently?
In Virtual EMDR, we refer to the first set of associations as “disempowering beliefs” and the second set as “empowering beliefs”. (You’ll sometimes hear them called “negative beliefs” and “positive beliefs”, however by themselves, “beliefs” are neither “negative” or “positive”, until you empower them as such)
Here are some empowering beliefs that you can adopt during Covid-19. Use the Virtual EMDR program as often as you need to disempower (or “desensitize”) your existing beliefs and install your desired empowering beliefs in their place. (To learn about how Virtual EMDR works, click here)
If you are feeling ANXIETY about your health or the health of your loved ones:
It is natural to feel anxiety about your health, even if you are young, healthy, and take good care of yourself. The Covid-19 virus is indiscriminate in terms of whose life it devastates. For those who have tested positive, there is anxiety about how severely you’ll be infected, and any long-term impact. For those who are in close contact with someone vulnerable, you are feeling anxious about their health as well, and worried that you may unintentionally endanger them.
In times of anxiety and uncertainty, focus on ACTION instead of inaction. Taking some action, no matter how small, gives you back control over your emotions. Small actions you can start with include: meditating, learning deep breathing techniques, making conscious decisions about your personal hygiene, or who you spend time with. Learn to stop focusing on things outside your control, and instead spend your energy on what you CAN control.
If you are feeling GRIEF at losing a loved one or watching someone die needlessly:
For those who have lost loved ones in the past weeks, the suddenness of their passing - and in many cases, the inability to spend last moments with them or to give them a proper sendoff - is devastating. For frontline workers, you may be experiencing grief at losing those under your care and not being able to help or offer them comfort the way you wanted to.
Anyone who has experienced the loss of a loved one knows first-hand that grief follows its own timetable. Learn to give up trying to control it, and instead respect and honor your grief.
When you are ready, begin taking small empowering actions: talk to a trusted friend or counselor, join a support group, write about your loved one. Each of these actions can be its own empowering belief that you install in progressive Virtual EMDR sessions, such as “I will celebrate her life and her memory by creating a video keepsake for her children”.
If you are feeling ANGRY or STRESSED at the circumstances:
Perhaps you’re angry at having your well-laid plans for your life disrupted. Weddings, holidays, business events, semesters abroad, retirement, have all been put on ice. It is natural to feel that life is unfair, that you’ve wasted all your time and money. Or perhaps you’ve had to scramble to reorganize your plans at short notice, leaving you stressed out and exhausted.
The phrase that “When one door closes, another one opens” is never more true than at the present. Challenge yourself to think of these new doors that are now in front of you: Maybe the unplanned delay is giving you time to prepare better. Maybe you can turn your experience into an opportunity to help others. Maybe you can be more selective in who and how you spend your time.
Whatever it is, look for the silver lining - and you WILL find it.
If you are feeling FEAR at losing your job, income, career, or dream, and uncertainty over your future
If you are one of the millions of people globally who have been laid off or lost your primary source of income, you are likely grappling with fear and uncertainty right now. Fear of being able to pay your bills, being able to find another job, feeding your family… all these are real and overwhelming concerns.
The one thing to know about fear is that it cripples (hence the phrase “crippling fear”). What this means is that positive things - the things you WANT - rarely come out of a state of fear. When you are afraid, you tend to think of things you DON’T WANT in your life (such as losing your home or your family) which ironically then directs your energy TOWARDS them instead of away from them.
Hence, the trick is to focus on the things that you DO WANT, such as keeping your family together or finding a new job. Put yourself in that empowering state by reminding yourself of past incidents when you successfully overcame challenges. No matter how small they may seem now, this helps to build your positive self-esteem that you CAN find a way out of your current situation. Gradually, you’ll find yourself able to tackle bigger and bigger challenges, and get your dreams back on track - often you'll find even bolder dreams than the one you lost.
Constantly remind yourself that you ARE powerful and that it is up to YOU to harness that power. We are all infinitely powerful within ourselves - once we know how to properly harness that power, you can overcome ANY problem Life (or a pesky little virus) throws at you.
(If you’d like to learn more about the concept of “personal power”, read or listen to self-help coaches such as Tony Robbins and Deepak Chopra).
If you are feeling GUILT at not being able to help those who rely on you:
Maybe you’re an employer who had to lay off workers. Maybe you’re a doctor who had to make a life-or-death decision on whose life to prioritize. Maybe you’re a nurse or caregiver who had to make the difficult decision not to work because you could not put your family at risk. Maybe you can no longer take care of your elderly parents or grandparents, and they are struggling to fend for themselves.
This crisis has forced many people into impossible no-win situations. In a short time, many of us have been forced to confront our core values and beliefs, and test where our ultimate breaking point really is. Many of us had to push the limits of our personal boundaries, leading us to experience guilt at having betrayed ourselves or others around us.
Often we are our harshest critic, carrying around guilt and pain like our cross to bear for much longer than the actual harm caused. No matter what has happened, learn to acknowledge those you may have hurt, intentionally or unintentionally - and then consciously and deliberately, MOVE ON.
Turn your guilt about the PAST (which is no longer controllable) into empowering beliefs about the FUTURE which you can still control. How can you make the future brighter for those you have impacted or (if they have passed on) others like them? How will you ensure that this never happens again, that you will be stronger and better-prepared in future?
Or as impossible as it may seem, how can you turn the depths of your pain and shame into your "finest moment”? You've heard of the saying "Pressure makes diamonds" - what is the diamond that you are creating right now?
One final thought: Of all the empowering beliefs, GRATITUDE is the most powerful. Whenever you are stuck for an empowering belief, look for “gratitude” by completing this sentence "Right now, I'm grateful for..."
Being grateful gets you to think about what you DO HAVE, instead of thinking about what you don’t.
In these times, be grateful for the frontline workers in healthcare and essential services who are putting their lives and families on the line for us. Be grateful for your friends, colleagues, neighbors, online communities, and everyone who is supporting you and making these days a little easier. Be grateful for the rare opportunity to slow life down, allowing you to enjoy your family, your home, and things you didn't have time for previously. Be grateful for strangers who are showing that they care for you and your wellbeing, by staying home and keeping their distance.
No matter where you're at, there is always something to be grateful for.
Stay strong ???
Please share your ideas below. What emotions are you experiencing because of Covid-19 and how can you turn them into empowering beliefs?
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