I’ve been spending my days talking to people about their experiences related to the COVID 19 pandemic, whether it’s clients, family or friends there’s a theme. Last week it was going through the shock and disbelief about what was happening. As a collective, anxiety was high; uncertainty, fear, and denial all existed at the same time. Now we are settling in, some are establishing routines to help, others don’t know what day it is or when they last showered. How long do we have to do this for?
Now that the excitement has worn off, I’m bored and want this to end. The parts that are in DENIAL pop up, saying things like… “Coronavirus doesn’t seem that bad, maybe we are over reacting, do we really have to stay home?” We can easily combat this part by reading any article online. This leads to: “Ok, we do need to be doing this, this is good..staying home is good and smart.”
Another part, GRATEFUL chimes in, “Let’s be grateful for this time, we get to stay home, we have food, we have everything we need, we are gonna be ok.”
In creeps GUILT, “You should feel bad, don’t you know there are people who are suffering while you sit here in comfort? Don’t you know that there are people who don’t have homes, or food, or supplies? You are so privileged …. how can you be happy and feel joy at a time like this”. GUILT is often harsh, aligned with our CRITIC, this part can be particularly difficult to deal with.
“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.” — Melody Beattie
Often I hear clients talk about struggling with guilt, because of not only their privilege, but also because of their knowledge and interest in world events. Many have to see the disparities between the classes on their commutes to work, on their lunch break in the park or at their job where they are helpers.
How do we balance gratitude and guilt? One way to start is examining our relationship with the things we are grateful for. Sure, when I list things I am grateful for I have an abundance, but how am I showing my gratitude on a daily basis? Am I demonstrating my gratitude?
One thing to think about is shifting from “I have to” to “I get to”, this not only helps us with chores, or other things that we feel like we “have” to do, it also helps us to honor and recognize those who are suffering.
- I get to make dinner, because I have food and a kitchen to cook in.
- I get to do laundry, because I have clothes and resources to clean them.
- I get to work, because I have a job that gives me money when I show up.
- I get to take a shower, because I have a shower, soap and hot water.
When we honor what we have, we also honor those who go without. We may also want to examine how we spend our time helping others. Having abundance means we have something to share, thus spreading abundance.
- How are you helping others?
- Have you checked on someone you know who lives alone?
- Have you donated money to organizations that support causes you care about?
- Have you said a prayer or done a meditation for those suffering?
We don’t have to feel guilty, we just need to be grateful and share the abundance. What do you have an abundance of?
I invite all of you to do a values exploration exercise to examine your own personal values and to see if you are truly embodying your values. Download the PDF here.
- If you value community, how are you demonstrating it?
- If you value health, what are you doing to show that?
- If you value education, what are you learning?
Why is it important to make room for gratitude?
Gratitude leads us to feeling Joy, and feeling Joy is restorative. It helps our bodies heal and process. Stepping into gratitude and joy doesn’t negate the suffering on the planet, it just gives us a moment away from it. The suffering will be there, it’s ok, step into Gratitude, step into Joy.