It’s a surreal time in the world right now.
I never would have believed the world could stop like it has; it feels like a dream.
In unprecedented times like these, it’s important to gather within the coping strategies we all have inside of us. It is a challenging time for so many, and it’s important to honor our feelings.
I personally cannot stand when someone swarms in with, “Think positive! Cheer up!” when I’m having a meltdown. It is the least helpful thing you could possibly do.
We cannot resist our fear and pain, for it will only amplify. In the words of Eckhart Tolle, “What we resist, persists.”
There is no use ignoring or pushing away; it’s a matter of acceptance. It is a matter of making sense of what is within control, and what is outside.
A wise friend of mine once said, “You feel what you feel when you feel it.” She gave me the kindest and most generous thing that anyone ever has: the opportunity to feel what I felt without trying to change it.
So, let yourself scream and cry. Do what you need. There is no judgment here.
I too have gone through a series of meltdowns. There has been a series of bad news that has hit my own personal little world, from cancelling our wedding to news of family members getting sick. But today is a new day. Today I turn my attention toward the ancient Greek school of philosophy, Stoicism. The Stoics believed that our minds are powerful and have the ability to create their own version of heaven or hell.
Marcus Aurelius, a Roman Emperor and a Stoic philosopher, also lived through a pandemic that wiped a third of the population. His book, Meditations, reveals a collection of private notes to himself and ideas on Stoic philosophy. There are literally hundreds of quotes that are so inspiring and help me to remember my own strength. The thoughts we have feed our body, or in his words, “The soul becomes dyed with the colour of its thoughts.”
What color is your soul right now?
The Stoics appreciated rational thinking and understanding a situation fully rather than reacting with panic and anxiety. Marcus Aurelius coped in his own life by controlling the quality of his thoughts, not allowing himself to be consumed by fear and negativity: “You have power over your mind—not outside events. Realise this, and you will find strength.”
Here are a few quotes that I’ve found calming to read. I hope they do the same for you.
“Other people’s views and troubles can be contagious. Don’t sabotage yourself by unwittingly adopting negative, unproductive attitudes through your associations with others.” ~ Epictetus
“Sometimes the most important thing in a whole day is the rest taken between two deep breaths.” ~ Etty Hillesum
“You have power over your mind not outside events, realise this and you will find strength.” ~ Seneca
“The universe is change; our life is what our thoughts make it.” ~ Marcus Aurelius
“The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another.” ~ William James
“Caretake this moment. Immerse yourself in its particulars. Respond to this person or that person, this challenge, this deed. Quit the evasions. Stop giving yourself needless trouble. It is time to really live; to fully inhabit the situation you happen to be in right now. You are not some disinterested bystander. Participate. Exert yourself.” ~ Epictetus
“The largest part of what we call ‘personality’ is determined by how we’ve opted to defend ourselves against anxiety and sadness.” ~ Alain de Botton
“Smile, breathe, and go slowly.” ~ Thich Nhat Hanh
“Anxiety is a thin stream of fear trickling through the mind. If encouraged, it cuts a channel into which all other thoughts are drained.” ~ Arthur Somers Roche
“There is no good or bad without us, there is only perception. There is the event itself and the story we tell ourselves about what it means.” ~ Ryan Holiday
“Good humor is a tonic for mind and body. It is the best antidote for anxiety and depression. It is a business asset. It attracts and keeps friends. It lightens human burdens. It is the direct route to serenity and contentment.” ~ Grenville Kleiser
“Trust yourself. You’ve survived a lot, and you’ll survive whatever is coming.” ~ Robert Tew
“Inner peace begins the moment you choose not to allow another person or event to control your emotions.” ~ Pema Chödrön
“We must be willing to let go of the life we’ve planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us.” ~ Joseph Campbell
“Our anxiety does not come from thinking about the future, but from wanting to control it.” ~ Kahlil Gibran
“He who is not everyday conquering some fear has not learned the secret of life.” ~ Shannon L. Alder
“Present fears are less than horrible imaginings.” ~ William Shakespeare
“Reality is irrelevant; Perception is everything.” ~ Terry Goodkind
“You have dug your soul out of the dark, you have fought to be here; do not go back to what buried you.” ~ Bianca Sparacino
“We are often more frightened than hurt; and we suffer more in the imagination than reality.” ~ Seneca
“Don’t underestimate the value of doing nothing, of just going along, listening to all the things you can’t hear, and not bothering.” ~ Winnie the Pooh
“Sometimes the bad things that happen in our lives put us directly on the path to the best things that will ever happen to us.” ~ Nicole Reed
“Instead of asking: Why is this happening to me? Start asking: How might I learn and grow from this?” ~ Karen Salmansohn
“We should take wandering outdoor walks, so that the mind might be nourished and refreshed by the open air and deep breathing.” ~ Seneca
“Trust the wait. Embrace the uncertainty. Enjoy the beauty of becoming.” ~ Mandy Hale