His face looked like a marshmallow after the flames had been blown off of it. I stood by his hospital bed packing him in ice every few minutes for the next handful of days.
Chest deep, fully clothed (tennis shoes and all), I was pulling my three year old off the bottom of the pool.
Standing before the judge in a place I never planned on begin, I was listening to him decree the end of a 32 year marriage.
I’ve lived through scary times and so have you. If we took the time to reflect, we’d recognize we’ve been transformed in the middle of many previous scary situations. It’s worth taking a moment to look back and get in touch with the life skills we developed in those previous scary moments.
A few things I’ve discovered about transforming anxiety and fear into growth during the hardest times of life:
Expand our Connections
Fear drives people inward. We all begin to focus on ourselves. The growth opportunity is to expand our connections and help others transform their negatives into positives. Connection doesn’t have to be face to face. I watched my mother over the last few days leave arrangements of home-grown flowers on her neighbors doorsteps with a note of encouragement. People are getting more and more creative in connecting with each other during a pandemic.
Find the Opportunities
Anxiety keeps us focused on our losses. Every day we review what has been lost, rehearse the loss, stare at the loss, agonize over the loss. The growth option is to focus on opportunity — cultivate new ideas, nurture new energy, uncover new tools, discover new resources.
Focus on this 24 Hours
The uncertainty has us all looking to the future, trying to analyze what happens next, or agonizing over how our future has been impacted. Focusing on today will bring us growth. Being present is a challenge -- this is the perfect opportunity to rise to the challenge.
Concentrate on what we can Become
The unexpected knocks our feet out from under us and we frantically try to get back to who we were. “If I could just get back to . . .” If we want to grow, we need to focus on what we can become. We can take advantage of all the chaos and confusion that is coming from the outside world and becoming self-directed, self-managed, and self-motivated.
Our knee jerk reaction to pandemonium is to complain. We can complain about the government, the leadership, the travelers, the 8-second hand washers, the younger generation, the grocery providers and the list goes on. Our own personal growth will be astronomical when we practice gratitude. Gratitude creates the best opportunity for our minds to be resourceful and creative.
During this global pandemic where we do not know what tomorrow will look like, there is one thing we can be sure of, we have plenty of opportunity for growth. We are designed in such a way that no experience is wasted. Make the best of this one!