A few days ago I realized something quite special. I noticed that I had moved on from the ‘Corona-freeze’ and I was taking deliberate action. And with action I had regained my good mood.

 

coffee 2This is not a small thing. As a coach, I spend my time guiding others to become aware of their emotional journeys. This time I was observing my own journey. That’s when I thought of sharing this positive journey and the lessons learned in a virtual café’. The link to join me is here

How did your Corona-journey start?

For me, really, it started at the end of February with the discovery of the Italian outbreak. Before, I did not perceive it as ‘my problem’.

I am Italian, I have family there, I had plans to visit my country during the Easter break. I felt a clear and present danger(^). I started acting as if I was living in Italy, anticipating by many weeks the lock-down that would eventually be applied in the UAE. I bought masks and sanitizer when they still cost peanuts and flour and yeast when nobody was buying. I got ready for a war. I established a routine to call my family members and to keep company to my lonely ageing mother, so that she would better resist the temptation to go out.

I was taking care of those around me. But as for me? I was feeling pretty miserable, swinging between anger and fear. I was in a ‘waiting mode’. Waiting for the evening news hoping that the numbers would go down. Waiting for the instructions of the government on what to do next. Waiting for the flights to resume. Waiting for a cure to be found. Waiting for the vaccine to come. 

tree of handsIn this state I was delegating the responsibility of my happiness to external events upon which I had no control. And every time the ‘miracle’ did not happen, I would slide into a deeper sense of helplessness. I was dangerously close to moving from ‘freeze’ to ‘flight’: the place where we relinquish control and let events overwhelm us.

I am a coach – I KNOW that this attitude is not helping! Silly me ….

Breaking the vicious circle when I wasn’t even aware of what I was experiencing

I would be lying if I said that I came out of the vicious circle by myself. The trigger was external and unexpected: the emergence of borderless solidarity and a deep sense of brotherhood and love which filled the news and the social media, gave me a handle to come out of my self-commiseration.

The feeling that moved the needle was gratitude.

No surprise there, coaches know how powerful gratitude is(*). I did all the right things (unconsciously, I don’t claim any merit there! Other than, perhaps, the fact that certain behaviors have become habits).

The daily reflection, blogging and commenting on all the good and hopeful things that were happening. Picking up the phone to the near and the dear ones(^^), but also to the old and the far, to give them my love (perhaps the most rewarding was my contact with my cousin, an anesthesiologist who was fighting the ultimate battle, along with patients). The realization that I had done once again what I do best: I planned and anticipated many possible scenarios and prepared for it. When the lock down came in Dubai, our house was stuffed with food, sporting equipment, vitamin C, a fast internet connection and toilet paper (^^^).

During the storm, we had a good time as a family!

What I describe above is almost like reading the manual of ‘Learned Optimism’(**), only that it did happen in real life.

I hope to chat with you soon! In the meantime, here are a few reading gifts:

• (^) Clear and Present Danger, by Philip Noyce https://www.amazon.com/Clear-Present-Danger-Blu-ray-Harrison/dp/B001AII4RW
• (^^) by John Lennon, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=68SP0wCOcLA
• (^^^) https://listverse.com/2020/03/23/top-10-hilarious-reactions-to-the-toilet-paper-shortage/
• (*) The Resilience Factor, by Karen Reivich https://www.amazon.com/Resilience-Factor-Finding-Strength-Overcoming-ebook/dp/B000FBJCQC
• (**) Learned Optimism, by Martin Seligman https://www.amazon.com/Learned-Optimism-Change-Your-Mind/dp/1400078393