None of us saw 2020 punching us in the face like it has! Could the start of the decade be more devastating?
This was going to be the decade I was finally going to live up to my potential! This year alone, I was planning to relocate to a new country and finally put my plans in motion for world dominance — except the world had different ideas!
I think I now know what Mike Tyson meant when he said
“Everybody has a plan ’til they get punched in the mouth.”
Being punched in the face does make you humble. And if anything, we need more people who are humble in these difficult times.
Of course it is easier said than done!
Here is what is helping me show compassion
Questioning How I Feel
I went from having the house to myself to all of a sudden sharing it with 3 other adults. No maid to help you clean the house or cook to help you with your food. Everybody is an adult and likes to live life on their own terms. Each of us have our pet peeves and behaviors that tick us off!
It feels like a real life run of the show Bigg Boss! Except smaller house and fewer people!
When you have to stay indoors, in a small house with 3 other people, it really pushes you! The nerves are constantly frayed, privacy is non-existent and the concept of personal space ceases to exist.
I found myself constantly agitated, angry, nagging and detached. It was hard for me to focus on work or on my wellness. All the negativity and the pessimism that I fought so hard to stay away from, came rushing back!
But there was no escaping!
My only option to regain my sanity was to look inward. This was the card I was dealt and I had to figure out a way to win the hand. So I decided to take my own medicine. I went back to practicing some of the methods that worked for me in the past.
First, I started to journal. That allowed me to sit with my feelings. It gave me an opportunity to dig deep and question why I am feeling a certain way.
How you feel often reflects in your actions, so whether it is trying not to panic buy or keeping my sanity at home with everyone around — it takes tremendous effort.
Every time I get irritated that my brother ended up eating the cheese I had bought for myself, I question why — After all, it was there for eating!
When the dirty utensils stare at me and make me uncomfortable, I try to ask
What is the big deal?
Sitting with my feelings and journaling, helped me work around the idiosyncrasies of my family.
Closely examining my thoughts has allowed me to respond more compassionately. It have been able to identify the triggers and find a work around.
Questioning how I feel has let me see things from their perspective. I realized that my family members are in the same boat. They have also lost their personal space and the freedom to do as they want — for they have to constantly keep me and my feelings in mind.
In fact, it reminded me of quote by American novelist Jonathan Safran Foer
“I think and think and think, I’ve thought myself out of happiness one million times, but never once into it.”
I realized that it wasn’t so much the people who were ticking me off but the fact that my privacy and personal space were compromised!
I could no longer live my way because I had to accommodate for my father and my brother. This meant overlooking some habits, actions and conversations.
I had to simply let go!
Frequent Conversations With Family & Friends
With everyone in a lock down and most of us idle, there happened to be a spike in the number of check-ins with the extended family.
All of us suddenly had more time in our day and no idea what to do with it!
Of course, some of us still had work to do, kids to take care of and meetings to attend to but chatting with others was a constant reminder that I am not the only one in this.
We are all in it together. My friends and family are suffering from similar problems. They are also fighting their own demons.
Someone doesn’t have a proper table and chair to work on. Another family is running out of cooking oil and have not been able to find the one they want anywhere. One other has to keep going out to buy drinking water every 2–3 days and in doing so, face the police on the streets and get interrogated by them. Somebody has a broken washing machine and a clogged sink!
I didn’t have any of those problems!
I realized that just like spreading joy increases it, sharing difficult moments reduces the pain and frustration. So I started to check-in on a regular basis. It helped me stay humble and be thankful for all that I did have.
It took me back to my gratitude practice. I started giving gratitude for all that was good even when times right now were bad. Giving gratitude compelled me to focus on the positives.
I still had a job, an income, food on the table and wasn’t stuck at a random place! Nobody I knew was diagnosed, hospitalized or dead because of the virus!
If you are struggling to talk to people, here is a great piece that can help you start.
The news always highlights the worst going around. It will just compound any fears you have.
When I feel like I have it worst, I either watch or read news on the mainstream channels. That gives me some mortifying perspective.
It restores the balance in my world and brings the kindness rushing back.
All of a sudden, it becomes hard to imagine that life is saving the worst for me when I am safe at home with nobody in my circle of friends and family having either got the virus or dying from it!
There are actual people out there stranded. People fighting for their lives to survive the virus. Humans who have had to isolate themselves! Individuals struggling to get the supplies they need.
I, thankfully, am not in any such scenario!
It is still a tough fight daily but I am beginning to regain the lost mental peace. Slowly, I have started to push the negativity and the pessimism to one corner and reclaim all the lost territory.
I have become more compassionate towards my own family members. The taunting, nagging and complaining had reduced. I started donating my time and some money wherever I could. I gave away free LinkedIn Premium accounts to people who were looking for jobs — small acts of kindness that helped me push towards the right mental state.