Let’s stop for a moment and take stock. Worldwide people are sick and dying and our countries have adopted a fortress mentality for self protection. We’re building our walls, isolating ourselves from our families and staying well is the primary goal. All around us people are losing their jobs, an economic depression is forecast and the welfare queues are growing. In Australia if you gather in a group of more than 2 people you can be fined $1600. People arriving from overseas are taken to a hotel for quarantine where they are required under the governments emergency powers to stay for 14 days. There are daily closures of stores and businesses. There are shortages of medical supplies and we all fear that if we don’t ” flatten the curve” our health system will crack under the pressure.
But there are also countries on the road to recovery and rebuilding like Japan and China. There are daily examples of human kindness, examples of initiative and innovation as businesses, individuals, families and neighbours redefine themselves in this new age.
What is the New Age?
The simple answer is that we are shaping the New Age or next chapter, as we speak and it is evolving. As Inge said in this week’s lead article I would like my life back…….but also there is no going back…we move forward from here. This is it. The new age is being scripted as we read this article by you and many other millions of people in the world.
We are experiencing ENDINGS which bring profound grief, denial and eventual acceptance. Simultaneously we experience what Bill Bridges calls the NEUTRAL ZONE- A neutral ZONE of confusion, grief, optimism, hope, anger, despair, revolt, compliance, fear and calm. The messy, muddy waters of human fragility. And in the mix are the hopes for new BEGINNINGS when we rebuild or redefine how we can live or want to live after the worst of this crisis is over.
The messyness of being human
We wake feeling strong. It will be a good day. We rise with purpose and start ticking off the to-do list. Structure is what we need, we are told, in times of chaos and confusion. We go for a walk but don’t quite make it all the way. We’re getting tired. We shut off the news and listen to uplifting music but as the day wears on, our energy dissipates. We become irritable. How long will this last? I don’t think I can live this way for much longer. The judging voice takes over..snap out of it… you’re only being asked to sit at home.. think about the doctors and nurses on the frontline of this war. You phone a friend and the mood lifts. The sun’s going down. I should be learning how to make decent videos or clean that cupboard. I haven’t done my online yoga class or my hour of Italian language class. Must be time for a glass of wine as I watch the evening news. Then dinner and more TV. Day nearly over. Tomorrow i’ll be stronger, more organised, energetic….. you fill in the gaps.
The first Step in rewriting the script for the new age
The first step is to notice the outer world but focus on your inner world. The work in rescripting the next chapter starts with internal work of each individual. It’s this place where your control lies at this time. Shutting out the voice of judgement is a fundamental starting point. Acceptance that we’re in a world that’s changing fast. In these transitions we have good days and rubbish days. On the good days we are purposeful, practical, resilient, calm, optimistic and coping. On most days we are using our well practiced skills to mask fear and grief for a lost way of life. To start rewriting our new way of life we need to accept that fear and grief are part of being human. How do we do this?
Tune in to when mood and energy are falling
Define the feeling.
Accept its there.
Do you have any control over this feeling? Can you practically fix it at all? If not, then,
Notice it. Give it a Nod. Don’t judge it. It’s just there. It doesn’t need to go away. Its just sadness, fear or grief. It will pass when its done its work.
” The more we engage directly with fear the less fearful it becomes. Its our curiosity that transforms fear. Most often it dissolves into energy that we can work with.” Margaret Wheatley
” Today’s crisis is guaranteed to shift and change. We can count on this. Without any help from us situations lose their BIG DEAL status, shoved aside by the next crisis. In part this is evidence that we lie in a constantly changing universe.” Margaret Wheatley. Perseverance
“ Hope- and the wise, effective action that can spring from it- is the counterweight to the heavy sense of our own fragility. It is a continual negotiation between optimism and despair, a continual negation of cynicism and naivete.” Erich Fromm