One of my greatest fears used to be the fear of uncertainty.
I started my career in the semiconductor industry which was very cyclical. Then consulting where there was heavy pressure on being a billed resource every day of the year. Then senior management positions with uncertainty of so many things including meeting targets. All this along with a parallel career in classical music where opportunities can be as uncertain as it gets. And now being on my own!
One of the things that helped me conquer my fear is this poem by Kahlil Gibran.
“It is said that before entering the sea, a river trembles with fear.
She looks back at the path she has traveled, from the peaks of the mountains, the long winding road crossing forests and villages. And in front of her, she sees an ocean so vast, that to enter there seems nothing more than to disappear forever.
But there is no other way. The river cannot go back. Nobody can go back. To go back is impossible in existence.
The river needs to take the risk of entering the ocean, because only then will fear disappear, because that’s where the river will know it’s not about disappearing into the ocean, but of becoming the ocean.”
Change is the only constant is an old cliche. Which means we cannot escape change and must become adept at managing it.
One of the models that comes quite handy while navigating through any kind of change is SARAH:
S – Shock
A – Anger
R – Resistance
A – Acceptance
H – Hope/Healing
It represents the stages most of us go through as we adapt to change. Some people zip through the stages while others take a lot more time. The faster we move through these stages, the quicker we adapt to the new norm.
To illustrate this, let us consider the current Corona virus pandemic.
Shock or denial or disbelief is the first response by many. This stage is often very upsetting emotionally. “This cannot be happening to me”, “I don’t believe this” are some of the common sentences you hear people say.
Due to the pandemic, life has changed a lot for people all across the globe. Many are forced to lock themselves indoors leading to a loss of social contact. As you go through this, the first feeling you may have experienced is a sense of disbelief that the restrictive quarantine, the economic crisis etc. are happening at all.
Shock usually moves into anger or anxiety once people realize the implications of the change. This is commonly seen when people grieve for the death of a loved one. And this is what many may feel about the loss of normality due to the corona virus crisis as well.
People are often stuck at this stage blaming themselves or others for the situation being faced. If you do that, you continue to stay stuck here and will not be able to move ahead. It is important to move past this stage quickly.
During this stage, people usually resist or reject the need for change. They may use logic and reasoning to support their case. They may experience sadness and may even temporarily give up hope.
It is important to understand what is within your control and what is not. In order to move forward, it is important to take those small steps that are within your control here and seek any support you need.
Humans are inherently resilient beings. Eventually we come to accept the situation. We embrace the changes, find peace with the new reality and begin to live in it – whether it means getting our kids to attend school online, working from home or settling into the aftermath of a pay cut or a job loss.
A state of hope and optimism is eventually reached. There is a visible shift; a lift in energy levels and motivation. Instead of viewing the change as hard and insurmountable, we begin to think constructively about how to make it work for us. We start thinking about the positives of the pandemic – how we are getting to spend more time with family, how we are more present in the current moment, how the rat race wasn’t leading us anywhere, how we realize the harmful effects of some of our past actions and hopefully vow to not continue them and how we can now focus on self-development.
This is the time to think of things that you wanted to do all your life – a hobby, a passion – for which you couldn’t earlier find the time at all. It helps you focus on the positive things that emerge from the change.
Navigating through change is usually tough. Befriend SARAH to make it easier.
So which stage of SARAH are you in right now and what do you plan to do next?
Whenever we are in a crisis, it seems like we are caught in a dark tunnel. There is fear because we are in unfamiliar territory. Right now, in the times of the Corona virus pandemic, the fear is global.
Remember: The tunnel connects where you were just some time back to where you are going to be in some time. You are transitioning from the past to the future. A change is in progress. If you keep thinking about the past or about future scenarios, you are going to drive yourself crazy.
So what do you do?
Be in the present moment. There are things you can control and things you cannot. What you can control allows you to move from fear to empowerment. The key is to move from the state of fear to an empowered state. From crisis to growth.
How do you do that?
Ask what you can change in yourself and in your environment physically? Bring more awareness to your body and health. Change old, unconscious, depleting habits. De-clutter.
Find out what you can change in the way you use your senses to connect to the environment and to look within. Connect with nature. Reduce usage of gadgets and social media.
Develop courage and confidence. Pursue a hobby or something you wanted to always do but could never find the time earlier.
Feel your interconnectedness. Widen your heart. Connect with more and more people. Deepen your heart. Help someone in need in whatever way you can. Hold and express gratitude. Forgive and heal emotional hurts.
Open your mind to new directions. To new light and learning. To creative ways of manifesting.
Grow spiritually. Look within. Take courses on self-development. Invoke peace and calmness.
Amid the gloom of the present Corona virus pandemic and the resultant lock down in many parts of the world, there is also a realization of positive changes that have happened for the first time in many years. For instance, air pollution seems to have come down drastically in many cities of the world where people are now breathing cleaner air.
But for these changes to be sustainable, it is important that the changes in our habits last. That we do not go back to our old habits once the situation improves. So that we truly get to see light at the end of the tunnel!