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How to Negotiate Global Grief and Navigate the New “Normal” During COVID-19

As we continue to navigate the new ‘normal’ in these different times, perhaps it’s time we turned our attention to the global grief that has gripped the world. As a grief-phobic society we’re typically not great at addressing this emotion head on. It makes us uncomfortable. And so, we bury our head in the sand and our emotions deep in our psyche. This is inevitably a recipe for disaster. This grief, if not properly addressed in healthy ways, will pop up in even less-welcome ways we may not anticipate or be prepared to cope with. It can manifest as a whole range of negative emotions that impact our sense of self and the world. 

What if, during this forced ‘pause’, we took advantage of the opportunity to develop some coping skills and pivot to figure out what we can do? 

For this week’s Art of Feminine Negotiation podcast, I had the pleasure of interviewing grief expert, Yvonne Heath, author of Love Your Life to Death. (Check out her book I encourage you to check out the podcast as it was an illuminating and engaging conversation about how to negotiate grief and navigate the so-called new ‘normal’ in these unusual times. We discussed where our grief phobia comes from historically, how we perpetuate it and how we can start to shift the paradigm to a healthier model. 

Let me share some hot tips from that interview on how to navigate the new ‘normal’ we’re all living into. 

  1. Acknowledge and allow all your feelings. Recognize that it’s normal to feel the full range of emotions during this new topsy-turvy unfamiliar reality. In fact, it would be more concerning if you weren’t feeling at all during the uncertainty of this pandemic. By all means, give yourself permission to allow these feelings. And then, choose not to stay there. 

  2. Allow yourself to be informed, to secure the information you need to stay safe and healthy. Having said that, ensure you do not obsess or allow yourself to drown in the potentially crushing inundation of constant purported information. Be particularly vigilant to avoid any focus on negativity, choosing instead to feel yourself with positivity. There is lots of it abounding. You just have to choose to give it your attention. 

  3. Yvonne suggests following the guidelines, recognizing these are temporary measures. As she quipped “Our grandparents were called to war. We’re called to stay on our couch. You can do this.” She suggests you be the best example you know. 

  4. Understand and recognize that we’re experiencing global grief, which can manifest in different ways for everyone. So, be sure to check in with yourself. Pay attention to how you’re doing and ask yourself what you may need right now. Ensure you’re taking care of the basics, like getting enough sleep, drinking enough water, and eating good food. 

  5. Watch the language you use. And no, I’m not talking about cursing. Language matters. Reframe negative characterizations and substitute them with more empowering messages. For example, avoid buying into the ‘social isolation’ characterization of what we’re encountering. The idea of isolation triggers our amygdala, our survival instinct, our fight or flight response. Our primitive brain remembers that isolation from the tribe back in the days of the saber-tooth tiger meant almost certain death. So, instead of calling it social isolation, why not consider it new opportunities for different or deeper connection, or as Heath suggests ‘social hyper-connection’. Why not reach out to call old friends or relatives whom you haven’t connected with in awhile? Imagine the joy you could bring, especially for those who are living alone through this. 

  6. Most of us had gotten into a pattern where we found it hard to be still. Why not seize this opportunity to step off the treadmill, catch your breath and consider, with deep intention, what you really love to do? Why not tap into your passion and purpose? Try out some ideas or activities that you’ve been telling yourself you didn’t have the time for. What an incredible gift to consider re-inventing yourself, or hitting a reset button. 

  7. Spring is here. As you think about spring cleaning, take this moment to de-clutter not only your environment, but also mentally, physically, spiritually and emotionally. 

  8. Fill your life with happy. Happy is an under-valued emotion. Now is the time to actively seek it out. Allow yourself to embrace it. Look for it. It’s available 24/7. 

  9. Schedule random acts of kindness every day. 

  10. Yvonne founded the Just Show Up movement. She encourages you to show up for yourself first, as you can’t show up as your best self for others if you don’t take care of yourself. 

As I’ve noted in earlier posts and my other teachings, we can’t control what happens externally. We certainly can’t control COVID-19. We can, however, take 100% responsibility for our experience of things. We can control our reactions. We can control our thoughts and the meaning we give them. These thoughts and the meaning we give them create our reality. Why not choose to reach for a better reality?

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