‘We’re all in the same storm but we’re not all in the same boat.’
This quote is a lovely reminder that every person’s experience is unique to them in every moment.
Through the Daily Gathering and other conversations I’m noticing how, whatever the circumstances: very busy, houseful, working from home with adult children returned or young children. Income disappearing or threatened; furloughed; retired; physically unwell; physically fit there is something obvious but easy to overlook: we are all having ups and downs, regardless of our circumstances.
It’s good to notice how, when we feel irked and frustrated then the world looks annoying and difficult (and our stress looks bigger and more important than everyone else’s); when we feel relaxed and content then we tend to have more perspective, humour and tolerance. We don’t tend to focus on the past or future too much and simply go about our day, finding it easier to deal with what comes up or able to wait until a solution occurs.
When we’re out of sorts, we tend to be more reactive and that looks different for different people. Some get spiky, loud and aggressive; some go quiet and hide, some lose focus and get weepy. Some do that to a large degree; others to a lesser degree.
Going in and out of different states of mind is entirely normal and is not a result of this pandemic. It happens anyway, all the time, to everyone.
It may look as though you are more up and down just now and that may seem to be the result of the pandemic but actually it may simply be that things that have always been true are becoming more visible to you.
Things like certainty. You may have feelings of anxiety and panic which look tied to the loss of certainty around eg income, plans or visiting family members.
Yet all our lives we have come up against things that didn’t go to plan. Mostly, after we’ve got over our upset or disappointment, something occurs to us which helps us navigate the new situation. It’s good to remember we have this innate capacity to deal with what arises, once our mind settles down. s
That can lead to noticing that things were never really certain, we just liked to believe they were. In fact, certainty around anything (except death and taxes) is an illusion.
That can be pretty uncomfortable if you’re wellbeing looks tied to your income or your plans or your time with family.
When, however, you get a glimpse of how your experience is constantly fluctuating from relaxation to tension, feelings of hope to feelings of irritation and everything in between, you might begin to wonder how your feeling state could possibly be a measure of your wellbeing, given how arbitrary and changeable it is, regardless of the circumstances.
What if there is something unaffected by any particular state of mind you might be experiencing? What if there is wellbeing at your core that is not subject to your moods or external circumstances?
As we get curious about that, we start to notice when we’re relaxed, curious and open, life feels easier, solutions occur to us, we can find joy in the small and ordinary moments of life.
We get less fascinated by what we might happen to be feeling in any given moment and more interested in what powers this whole thing called human experience.
That exploration can lead to feeling more grounded, more able to experience ups and downs with less suffering, doing less harm to yourself and others and finding unexpected joy and peace in the midst of the most unusual circumstances.
You know this at some level.
When the world looks and feels crazy to you, something is calling you home to a deeper understanding of your essence.
So really this is just to say, give yourself and others the benefit of the doubt. We all do and say daft things when we’re agitated and the world looks bleak when we’re down.
But like the weather in the UK, the dark clouds pass and the sun comes out again at some point. Knowing that, can help us weather the ups and downs without getting too stuck into our clouded (distorted) points of view.
Knowing things will look less daunting in time and we’ll suffer less if we can leave our negative thinking alone and just go about our day as best we can.
In the meantime, I love the Irish saying,
‘A good laugh and a long sleep are the two best cures’