There is a vastness to my days now; one I’m not usually afforded. There’s no morning rush or school tardy to avoid. I have nowhere to be at any certain time, and nowhere to go even if I wanted to. My days are fluid with little appointed times to break them up save for zoom calls and making meals. It’s just one long day after another at home with the fam. While we’re still all working in our own corners of the house on school or business, time itself is less of an issue. The expansiveness has given me an opportunity to inspect my thoughts; the ones that serve me and the ones that don’t.
Normally, I go from one thing to another so fast that I haven’t the time to think about what I’m thinking about – like my thought that my seventeen-year-old son is playing video games, rather than bettering himself. That thought doesn’t make itself clear to me until it comes flying out of my mouth in a not so friendly manner.
I don’t have time to notice I am feeling defeated because I told myself earlier that day after receiving feedback, that my book is never going to go anywhere, and I should give up now.
I don’t stop to register the anxiety that occurs as I contemplate just how many extra pounds my nine-year-old might pack on if he keeps eating an extra meal at nine o’clock at night and refusing to exercise all day.
I fail to acknowledge that I keep running over in my mind this time last month when I tried to hug someone I admire, who I don’t think really wanted to hug me back, and the subsequent cringe I sustain as a result of the thought.
We are in an unprecedented time. No one knows what is going to happen; how long this will go on and what the physical, financial, spiritual, or emotional consequences will be on the individual and global levels.
That is a whole lot of unknown. What better time then, to question the untold number of assumptions I make inside my own head – the things I think are true, but in fact are no less known than anything else?
I decided I’d put all this extra time to use, by watching these tens of thousands of thoughts and emotional reactions that run through my mind and body on a daily basis. What if I used this time to discard the thoughts that don’t serve me, and to replace them with thoughts that do?
What if I stopped wondering if my book sucks too much to pay an editor to look at and instead, told myself that my book is going to be done in perfect timing and will resonate with just the right people?
What if I traded the thought that my older son is throwing his talent out the window on a moment by moment basis, for the thought that he, like all of us, is a divine being put on this earth for his own personal journey, which is unfolding in ideal time and circumstance?
What if I merely closed the kitchen at seven pm, and didn’t bother with the panicked thoughts about my nine-year-old, but rather focused on all the art work he produced today?
What if instead of reliving what an idiot I am for hugging someone, I thought to myself “I love me.”?
I will tell you, what if. I will feel confident instead of insecure, trust instead of fear, satisfaction instead of unrest, pride instead of concern, and I believe I will have a lovely day enjoying my family, my work, the snow, and even the quarantine.
How do I know? I did it.
Now it’s your turn. Whether you find yourself judging the hoarders at the store, or you’re feeling so fearful you are one of the hoarders at the store, think about what you’re thinking about. If you’re thinking about losing your job or how bad the stock market will get, pay attention. Then ask yourself: what emotions do I want to experience today? Are my thoughts bringing me to that state? If not, make a concerted effort to direct your attention to something more productive.
I’m not suggesting this is easy, but I am suggesting you take responsibility for the effort. Use this precious time to become familiar with the voice inside your head. Challenge yourself to discard unhelpful thoughts in favor of ones that put you in the state of mind you’re looking for.
Use this time when you’re forced to slow down to make internal changes that will pay off when you get to take yourself out into the world again.
Those are my two-quarantined-cents.