Waking up on Day 1 of ‘social distancing’ and home quarantine in Atlanta, I’m so disoriented. Somehow the stay at home and large gathering restrictions felt easy to honor on a weekend. 

But what now?

Navigating in this strange new world is going to take courage my friends, but you already knew that! As a mindset coach, I love what one of my client’s said on Friday during his normal call. “Well, let’s see how the thought model* stands up to this!” *(The thought model is the main tool I use with mindset work)

Yes, let’s see how mindset really works, especially now.

There is one tool/perspective that I’m using that I think could be really helpful for all of us right now. Understanding 2 types of painful emotions we’re experiencing: Clean Pain and Dirty Pain. 

Clean pain as I describe it is the natural human reaction to events in our lives. Currently, the fear, disappointment and uncertainty we’re feeling now being quarantined during a pandemic. Giving yourself the space and grace to allow the natural emotions that come from these events or circumstances in our lives. This is normal, it’s the human experience of 50/50 emotion. 

***Like right now for some reason I just felt a huge rush of anxiety. I stop (instead of my natural reaction to resist) and allow the emotion, notice where it is in my body and slowly breathe it through. As another event is cancelled with a dear friend I let myself be sad that we’re not going to see each other tonight and just allow that emotion. 

Clean pain becomes dirty pain or heightened pain when we resist it. This is why giving space and allowance to our emotions is so important. It’s not natural but when we practice this it reduces anxiety, stress and frustration. Remember that allowing can reduce our suffering.

How do we allow emotions? Treat yourself like you would a good friend that was distressed. Listen to your thoughts about your situation. Notice what you’re thinking and feeling. Be kind. Don’t judge yourself for being upset or in fear. Just notice. The negative emotions don’t last as long if we allow them. That is such good news. 

Dirty pain is also where our mind gets stuck in patterns that cause us additional suffering. Dirty pain is created when our brain gets stuck in a really horrible story about our circumstances. This is when our brain indulges and believes negative and dark thoughts about our situation. This is when we are in a doomsday loop about our situation. 

Well right about now it seems pretty believable that our doomsday thoughts are true. BUT THEY AREN’T!!!! 

This is when mindset goes to work and does some heavy lifting. Interrupting these loops takes some patience, and courage to do some investigation. We don’t naturally want to look at these thoughts, they can appear to be reality. We are in so much fear because our brains are looking for and finding a lot of evidence that the worst is happening. Our mind loves to create a reason you are feeling that fear. Almost agreeing with the emotion that was natural in the first place.

Of course you’re afraid, and your mind offers these lovely stories. They are lies but our mind loves telling them. They might look like this (I know mine do!!!) 

  • “Of course we’re all going to die.” 
  • “Yes your marriage is going to suffer with all of this togetherness.” 
  • “Your business is going to plummet and never recover.” 
  • “You’re never going to be able to network again.” 
  • “Life as you know it has changed forever.” 

The brain takes one innocent, even truthful thought and turns it into the worst scenario story ever and it does it in like 90 seconds flat. 

Call your mind out on this, interrupt it at all costs. Notice these thoughts but start watching them and be onto them. This is the power of mindset. 

This is not for the faint of heart but I know you’re up to it or you wouldn’t have even read this far. 

Cleaning up Steps

  1. Give yourself some space to experience what you are experiencing. Allow the emotions, remember that emotions are only experienced for 90 seconds. You can handle 90 seconds of disappointment, fear, nervousness. If we just allow them, notice them, describe even how they feel in our body, they will pass through.
  2. Notice what you are thinking. Name the thoughts. Why are you feeling so fearful for example? Why? Then what? Then what would happen? Ask yourself a lot of questions about the story it is making. Watching our thoughts lessens the angst.
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