handling covid-19

Dealing with the Fear of Uncertainty

At an online work meeting the other day, management shared this graphic which was found on LinkedIn. The message is beautiful, but unfortunately the author of the graphic could not be found. The graphic is focused on the current pandemic, yet the message can be applied to our lives in general.

who do I choose to be during the Covid-19

Over the last month or so, if I am going to be absolutely honest, I have been wavering between the fear, learning and growth zones. Two weeks before our state announced official stay-at-home requirements, I fell into the fear zone. The unknown tends to send us into fear. In the States, fear transformed into lack of toilet paper – for whatever reason. Being in a hurricane zone, it was funny to watch how like myself, my neighbors prepared for the virus like we would a hurricane. We stockpiled water and food. I saw lines at the gas stations. Our fears from previous storms, made us act similar ways – even though surviving a tropical storm is very different than surviving a virus.

Isn’t it interesting how our fear – fear of the unknown, fear of loss, fear of others’ actions – makes us act in unhelpful ways? After leaving the hoarding phase, I noticed my tendency to use food (usually bad-for-me “comfort” food) and distraction (Candy Crush / Netflix) to make me feel better. If it did do anything to alleviate or dampen my fear, the affect was usually short-lived and often caused more issues than it solved. My unconscious mind thinks coffee, chocolate, and binge-watching are the easier, softer way to reduce my fear. All it really does is puts fear on a pause button, and then fear comes back with a vengeance once the pacifier is removed.

The seemingly easier, softer way is in the fear zone – sharing information (without fact checking), hoarding, blaming others, and drowning overthinking-brains in alcohol or carbs. Unfortunately, no matter what is going on, this does not work. What does work is when we can move into the learning or the growth zones.

These zones are full of acceptance, surrender, compassion, and conscious action. This is where we stop fighting reality and learn instead the power of accepting what is really going on. We surrender to the new reality and surrender our misguided belief that we can control the uncontrollable. We stop having pity-parties for ourselves and begin look to who we can help. Sometimes we are able to help in big ways as in the case of the front-line healthcare workers, sometimes it is an action like delivering food to shut-ins or those without work, and sometimes it just means picking up the phone and connecting with someone who needs to hear a friend’s voice.

The difference is that in the fear zone we are avoiding reality and believe we can control the uncontrollable. In the learning and growth zones, we accept reality and act on what is within our means to affect.

Take some time to review how you are handling this unprecedented situation. Which zone are you spending most of your time in? Don’t attack yourself for spending time in the fear zone; it happens as we are all human. Just use this review to consciously decide where you want to be and how you want to spend your time.

Hang in there. Share your success and struggles with us here.

Melissa Heisler

Surrender versus Outcome

In May I posted about The Power of Surrender.  At the time I was learning how surrendering means focusing one’s energy on their mission and passion instead of on tasks and to-do’s.  Surrender is also focusing on one’s heartfelt desires but not being caught up in what it will look like to manifest them.  Surrender is living in the bliss of one’s true purpose without regard to what the end result will be.  And at the time it was fun and easy because there were frequent tangible results helping me continue to surrender and have faith.  As usual, things change.

Melissa HeislerWhat is interesting is that things are still progressing and “wins” are coming out of seemingly nowhere, but it has become harder to recognize and celebrate the positive movement.  You see, I began to create my own expectations for outcome. I began to be specific in what I wanted to see and I created timelines and dates on when I wanted to see them.  As a result of my focus on what I wanted to see, my mood diminished.  Negativity, disappointment, and stress entered my life.  I had stepped out of the joy of doing in surrender and had moved instead into the discomfort of trying to make things go my way and expecting they would.  And worse yet, changing the way I worked to “force” them to go my way.

I can not express strongly enough how this brought me pain.  It changed my mood.  It changed the way I related to others.  It changed how I experienced each day.  It changed my desire and enjoyment in projects.  Overall, it was horrible.  I was not in joy.

At first I thought it was because things changed around me.  I could state a case for this, that or the other being the reason I was dissatisfied.  But hopefully you know by now our experience is the result of our thoughts not things.  Next I attacked the idea of surrender.  If I hadn’t surrendered I wouldn’t be in this situation and then I thought maybe I was wrong about this whole surrender thing.  Further and further I went down the rabbit hole of negative thought, expectation, disappointment, and judgment.

I was pulled from the abyss by talking to a friend.  The friend saw that I was doing what I was doing for others, not myself.  This was true, and has been my modus operandi for my entire life, but this time I realized something more.  It was not because I was acting for others that I received pain.  I would have had this same pain had I acted for myself.  No, the pain came from the meaning I put on my expectations.

Expectations or a specific desired outcome is not harmful in itself.  The harm comes from labeling the expectation.  If I don’t get X then, I am not smart, I am not successful, I am letting others down, I’ll never get to where I want to be, life isn’t fair, etc.  Pain is not from receiving a desired outcome or not, but it is from what we deem the result to mean.  This goes back to experience being the result of our thoughts.  I had added meaning to events and the meaning is what pulled me down.  True surrender is viewing life as it is without adding in our interpretation.  Surrender is living without judgment.

Take a look at your own life.  Identify where you are currently experiencing pain.  Now look not at the situation but look at the meaning you place on the situation.  See if you can change the meaning and therefore change your experience.

Melissa Heisler, Stress Reduction Expert

The Power of Surrender

My life has changed immensely over the last few weeks.  Goals I had given up upon have been coming to fruition seemingly out of thin air.  It is a truly amazing time.  What is so hard to grasp about it all is that I have not done anything different.  The wonderful new opportunities I have received did not come about due to planning, strategy, or hard work.  They came about because I surrendered.

ALS_2401_8x10The theme of surrender has been coming to me from many different angles this year.  It is a hard concept to understand and even more difficult to explain.  Surrender is not giving up.  Surrender is not releasing desire.  Surrender is not powerlessness.  Surrender is tapping into a greater power by releasing one’s focus on outcome.  Surrender is focusing one’s energy in their mission and passion instead of on tasks and to do’s.  Surrender is focusing on one’s heartfelt desires but not being caught up in what it will look like to manifest them.  Surrender is living in the bliss of one’s true purpose without regard to what the end result will be.  But I gotta tell you, the end results are pretty cool too.

It all started when I was approached to write blog posts for the Linked Local Network (LLN).  I am always open to appropriate resources to gain a greater audience for my messages.  LLN’s desire to build communities and share positive information was in alignment with me so it was a perfect fit.  But as I began to become involved, I saw that the mission of LLN was even more intrenched with my own.  Although it is a for-profit company they desire to support non-profits through resources and finances, a giving back element.  I learned about opportunities to become more involved with LLN by becoming a Hub Administrator, meaning that I would lead one of the city-centered websites.  As we talked about the opportunity, I went to a state of surrender, surrender of what I “should” say in a business meeting, and instead spoke from my authentic self.  I was called to bring forth my true mission to empower individuals.  What came about was the new Women’s Hub on Linked Local Network.  A website where I could choose the types of news and voices to be represented.  I didn’t have to ask, bribe or negotiate it.  It was handed to me, for it was aligned to my purpose and I had surrendered to my purpose.

There was not only surrender in how I thought things had to be done but also surrender in that I had to follow my heart and not my pocketbook.  Accepting management of the Women’s Hub meant providing lots of volunteer hours and taking my focus away from promoting my coaching business.  Or did it?  This year I have been trying to promote my business and grow it more.  I was doing everything the sales books told me to do, networking, social media, presentations.  Surrendering my time from these sales functions to focus on a website would on the surface be the wrong business choice.  In my heart however, it was right.  I knew I could reach and affect more people through this opportunity.  The hurdle to get over was money and compensation.  In the short term, there is none and there are no guarantees that there will be any revenue.  I surrendered to being the Women’s Hub Administrator because the alignment with my purpose and desire was higher than any immediate materialistic need.

And I was rewarded with yet another vehicle to get my message out.  A message meant to connect, educate and change people for the better.  I was rewarded with a radio show with which to project my message.  If you have been reading my journey, I tried all of the conventional ways to get my word out.  They usually required me to exchange my authentic self in return for a platform.  Now I have a weekly platform where I can share my authentic self and the information and power of those I respect.

Surrender is truly powerful.

Join me May 21st at 6pm on The Empowerment Show as I interview the documentary filmmakers behind The Empowerment Project:  Extraordinary Women Doing Extraordinary Things.