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A tool for our mental kit

We have a choice. All of us. It may be a choice that changes, but it is always available. Being in the midst of “information chaos” is uncomfortable at best, and terrorizing at worst. What information about our current situation of “contagion” is true, and what is not? So much is dependent on different statistical scenarios, and the ability or inability for governmental entities to develop and successfully execute a plan to deal with this virus.

I rest in myself, wondering how to walk forward with this. I think about my children, who are much more “in the world” than I. Do I need to reduce myself to a frazzle of worry about them? Do I need to do the same for myself? The answer to this is, of course not. So why do I choose to sometimes venture to the edge of “frazzle” at various times in the day?

The lack of good information is one contributing factor. My overactive imagination that sometimes chooses the “rabbit hole” is another. How to emerge from this darker place is the real question for me. What tools do I possess that can help me work with my own mind’s tendencies to worry?

My first choice has typically been physical activity; then meditation and solitude, so that I can get a clear look at what I am thinking. Sometimes this, in itself, takes care of the moment, bringing me up to enjoy the view outside my window, or the colors occurring on my canvas.

I think it is important to feel and acknowledge whatever feelings we are having — whether it is fear, desire or anger about what is occurring. It is so easy to take these feelings and distort or exaggerate them with our own mind imaginings … usually in a negative way.

Once our feelings are clearly in view and felt, our power of imagination can also be an ally in the form of “reframing”… the ability to consciously shift our mental perspective. One way is through humor. An example of humorous reframing from my childhood, is the story of the little boy, who was given as a gift, a pile of manure inside a shed. When the boy first encountered it, he looked at it for a moment, and then started digging. When asked what he was doing, he replied, “With all this manure, there must be a pony in here somewhere.”

Cognitive reframing is often used in a therapeutic setting to assist clients in identifying negative thoughts and looking at the situation with a more positive view. In our non-therapeutic and personal lives, we can use this simply to look at another way of considering a situation that causes us distress in a more positive manner.

In pondering our current situation (coronavirus), my personal brainstorm of positivity generates the following:  opportunity to practice our emergency procedures,  (both for personal and community preparedness), time to spend disengaging from the busyness of life in order to look inward, opportunity to be of service to those who need it, and gratitude toward friends who are sharing in meaningful conversations.

In our choosing how to experience this potential sickness, we can fight, feed or evaluate our emotional and feeling experience. Or we can develop clarity toward our emotions without judging them as either good or bad. Once that is accomplished, we may look for our own pony in the manure pile. We can consider the possibilities that exist, for positive action through reframing into a new perspective.

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