May 1, 2020

Is it Really the Pandemic that’s Triggering our Unhappiness?


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Check out Elephant’s Continually-updating Coronavirus Diary. ~ Waylon


The truth hurts sometimes. 

Why has the Universe sent us all to our rooms?

Well, maybe it’s because we sh*t all over the earth with pollutants, such as trash, plastics, and fossil fuels.

Or maybe it’s because we’ve been treating ourselves, each other, and the world’s animals poorly.

Or, perhaps it’s the fact that humans have become so ego-driven that we’ve been focusing our attention on materialism and external gain, and have ignored kindness, compassion, and humility.

Whatever the reason, we are where we are and this stillness is triggering for many.

Why is it triggering? 

Because nothing is distracting us from how we truly feel, or from what truly is. 

What does that mean?

Well, as a collective we have gotten so used to being busy doing with our jobs, and families, and recreation that we have been neglecting ourselves. Now with this forced idleness, there is space and time to sit with ourselves—to feel our feelings, bear witness to our emotions, and to hear our inner voice—all of which can be triggering.

For the past several weeks, I’ve noticed that people are complaining more than ever and it seems like everyone wants things to go “back to normal,” but I can’t help but wonder if going “back to normal” will fix anything.

I also wonder if people are using the pandemic as an excuse to complain about things that were making them unhappy all along.

For example, my single friends are complaining a lot more than usual. Some are more lighthearted about it and have simply expressed their desire for a quarantine-mate, which I get, because I’m all for “Netflix & Chill,” but others are really bothered by their loneliness. And some are triggered by the why: the why am I still single?

I don’t judge my friends, because I try not to judge in general, and I also share some of their feelings. But as much as many of us may not want to hear this, now is the time to sit with our feelings about being single. 

Because at the root of our discomfort lies the truth—so now is the time to dig deep to discover what is bothering us about our current situations.

What I recommend is asking ourselves the following questions:

What is truly bothering us, and why is it bothering us?

Is it just the sting of loneliness?

Or is it the need for love?

Or is it comparison (the thief of joy)?

Or is it something else entirely?

Whatever it is, I suggest we spend time thinking about it and then simply sit with it. Sit with the feelings, and sit with the emotions. Just sit. This is where the magic happens, because it is through the darkness that we discover the light.

On the flip side, many coupled friends seem to be complaining just as much, but for different reasons. Some are annoyed by their partners and are agitated by every little thing that they do. And others are going bonkers having their kids home all the time and having to homeschool them.

Again, I am not judging, and I think it’s normal to get agitated when spending too much time with anyone. But, if this is you, have you asked yourself: What is underneath—or at the root of the annoyance with your partner or children? 

For example, are you really that upset that your husband left an orange peel on the counter? Or is that your excuse, because you have been harboring resentment about something he did months ago that you didn’t deal with then, and now, the orange peel is just the trigger? Or, is it little Johnnie’s vroom-vroom car noises that are the problem? Or is it something else, like your lack of patience? 

To go deeper into our internal work, we must try and think about what lies beneath the trigger, observe what comes up, and then sit with those feelings. Through this, we may realize that we’re projecting our pain onto those closest to us, because it seems easier to complain about a situation—like being quarantined with our family—than it is to do the inner work of getting to the root of our discomfort.

And, we may be surprised by what we discover through this process.


Because our thinking mind is driven by the ego, which loves to attach onto stories and excuses. But underneath all that is the truth; a truth that will ultimately set us free. 

I am also hearing people complain about having too much work or lack thereof. I would think that those who still have jobs and income would be happy, but all I’m hearing is disdain for too much FaceTime and virtual meetings. And, for those who are furloughed, or have lost their jobs, yes it’s scary as f*ck, but at the same time, there are unemployment, government subsidies, and deferment plans. And when the world opens up again, I bet that businesses will be busier than ever. That is my opinion, and I could be wrong, but I try and see things with a glass-half-full approach (and this article is more about what lies beneath the triggers in our current situations, rather than the actual situations themselves). 

If this applies to you, you may want to ask yourself: Did I, (or do I) even like my job? 

Then see what comes up.

You may also want to ask yourself if it’s the Zoom calls you hate, or maybe it’s needing to be reachable 24/7. For me, it’s the latter which is a big trigger because it’s a boundary issue. But, whatever it is that plagues us about our current work situations, we must try to get to the root of the trigger. 

It’s not the situation we’re in, but rather what lies beneath the triggers that need to be resolved. And, this is a concept that can also be applied to all areas of our lives.

It’s not our relationship status that’s making us unhappy. It’s not our spouse or children that are making us unhappy. It’s not our job that is making us unhappy. And it’s not the pandemic that is making us unhappy.

We are making ourselves unhappy.

We are choosing to be unhappy by either living in the past, which causes depression, or we’re refusing to do the inner work, or we’re living in the future, which causes fear and anxiety.

My advice would be to start living presently, or as Eckhart Tolle calls “the now.” And if we’re not happy with something in our lives, we’ve got to face it, so that we can change it.

We have that power.

I am in no way, shape, or form minimizing the severity of this pandemic, but I am suggesting that while we have this idle time, we should try to use this as an opportunity to uncover where the unhappiness lies, instead of complaining about what is.

Sit with it. Feel it. Be present with it.

And, hopefully, we’ll heal whatever it is—or at least start the healing process. We have the time.

And what better time than the present.


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