#SWAAYthenarrative

How To Process A Crisis While Looking To The Future

6 min read
Health

As we fight valiantly to regain our sense of normalcy during the lockdown and even as it eases up in some states, productivity is the number one thing we strive and hustle for. We hope to buckle down for a short time until this pandemic is over. But behind this scramble for productivity is a faulty assumption that this thing will be over one day. The truth is it won't.

The pandemic will be contained, the lockdown will be over, but the legacy of it will live on for decades. The way we move, build, learn, connect, and create is being changed forever. We won't get our lives back, we will get a whole different kind of life.

On the other side of this journey of hope and acceptance is fortitude and resilience. We will know how capable and strong we are.

Growing up in an ungoverned and lawless Georgia (in Europe) during the 1990s, I have lived through periods of social isolation, martial law, extreme poverty, natural disasters, war, and violent conflicts. I have experienced food shortages and lived with no electricity, running water, or plumbing at times. I have slept under the same roof with people who I didn't trust to let me wake up the next morning. I know the feeling of tragedy and disaster in my bones.

I also know that disasters change us forever. And, when we pay attention and live through our own authentic experience of tragedy instead of following someone else's interpretation of it, we change for the better.

Demanding productivity during a crisis is delusion and just one form of denial.

We strive for productivity because productivity gives us a sense of control. But, the more we get done, the more there is to do. It's a grind that never ends. You never reach the feeling of contentment. Control is an illusion.

What hurts us, even more, is our mental tail-chasing: the guilt and the shame of falling off the wagon or not being productive enough. We are conditioned to use time for something we can show for it, the result we can see, count, and measure.

By staying productive during crisis and tragedy, what we are really trying to do is manipulate the fear with our accomplishments or efforts. We have fear of the unknown, fear of change, fear of losing what we have. But the fear can not be manipulated no matter how much we accomplish. Fear doesn't go away.

Demanding productivity during a crisis is delusion and just one form of denial.

Fearlessness is an oxymoron. We never really become fearless. Instead, we become courageous by accepting our fear and acting while still afraid. We call this courage. This crisis is a call to courage. The most productive, emotionally sound, and courageous thing we can do right now is release control and prepare to be changed forever.

What to do then?

Allow room for mental adjustment.

This adjustment can look different from one day to another. You may experience sloth-like urges and apathy on some days. Other days you may be accomplishing more than ever. Allow yourself to create your own authentic experience without comparing yourself to the glorified, hyperactive, Type A, achievement junkies. Accept the ups and downs is a natural and healthy process.

Accept your feelings.

We are all going through tremendous loss and trauma, even if it's not always obvious. It's okay to not feel okay right now. It's normal to feel low or frustrated during this transition. Allow yourself to work through the anxiety and low vibes. Far worse is to be in denial and trying to control the uncontrollable. So, be grateful for your discomfort that's caused by your sanity.

Accept that you will not become an award-winning writer, an Olympic athlete, or an inventor of the next big business idea that changes the world. Don't put ridiculous expectations on your body, mind, or spirit when it is already under such stress.

Ignore the productivity-porn on social media. Let go of striving for extraordinary output. It's okay if you're off schedule. It's okay if you didn't get anything done today. Ignore people who post their ultra-productive lives during the pandemic. They are on their own journey — you can cut out the noise.

Know that you're not failing.

Drop the profound self-judgment and belief of what you should be doing during the lockdown. Failure is not universal, it's a personal belief. We have been accepting other people's standards of success and failure for our entire lives. This is the time to create our own standards. Now more than ever, we need to stop performing and pretending.

Focus on physical and psychological health and security.

Your first priority should be securing your home, eating sensible foods, hydrating, moving your body, cleaning your house, and making sure you have a plan in case of a greater emergency. Once you have secured the essentials, you will be more open to bigger mental, emotional, and physical demands. Right now, work toward establishing your serenity, wellness, and peace after you've secured your first priorities.

Focus on internal changes that are taking place right now.

These mental shifts require patience and self acceptance. The shifts will be raw, ugly, frustrating, hopeful, and beautiful. Let yourself be and be changed. Let this crisis change how you see the world. Because how you see the world is what you experience, and your life is a sum of your experiences. Let this tragedy tear down the old, stale beliefs, prejudices, and assumptions and give you the courage to build new, bold ideas.

On the other side of this journey of hope and acceptance is fortitude and resilience. We will know how capable and strong we are.

This is the time to create our own standards. Now more than ever, we need to stop performing and pretending.

The day will come when this pandemic is over — once and for all. We will freely hug our neighbors and friends. We will return to our packed coffee shops and sports arenas. Our borders and economy will reopen. We are just at the beginning of that journey. Our minds have not come to terms with the fact that the world has already changed. Feeling guilty for not being able to do enough during the lockdown only delays the process of acceptance.

The crisis is not here to teach us how to do more, it's here to teach us who we can become when we lean into the uncontrollable and the uncertain.

How to Learn Much More From the Books You Read

It is one thing to read and another thing to understand what you are reading. Not only do you want to understand, but also remember what you've read. Otherwise, we can safely say that if we're not gaining anything from what we read, then it's a big waste of time.

Whatever you read, there are ways to do so in a more effective manner to help you understand better. Whether you are reading by choice, for an upcoming test, or work-related material, here are a few ways to help you improve your reading skills and retain that information.

Read with a Purpose

Never has there been a shortage of great books. So, someone recommended a great cookbook for you. You start going through it, but your mind is wandering. This doesn't mean the cookbook was an awful recommendation, but it does mean it doesn't suit nor fulfill your current needs or curiosity.

Maybe your purpose is more about launching a business. Maybe you're a busy mom and can't keep office hours, but there's something you can do from home to help bring in more money, so you want information about that. At that point, you won't benefit from a cookbook, but you could gain a lot of insight and find details here on how-to books about working from home. During this unprecedented year, millions have had to make the transition to work from home, and millions more are deciding to do that. Either way, it's not a transition that comes automatically or easily, but reading about it will inform you about what working from home entails.

Pre-Read

When you pre-read it primes your brain when it's time to go over the full text. We pre-read by going over the subheadings, for instance, the table of contents, and skimming through some pages. This is especially useful when you have formal types of academic books. Pre-reading is a sort of warm-up exercise for your brain. It prepares your brain for the rest of the information that will come about and allows your brain to be better able to pick the most essential pieces of information you need from your chosen text.

Highlight

Highlighting essential sentences or paragraphs is extremely helpful for retaining information. The problem, however, with highlighting is that we wind up highlighting way too much. This happens because we tend to highlight before we begin to understand. Before your pages become a neon of colored highlights, make sure that you only highlight what is essential to improve your understanding and not highlight the whole page.

Speed Read

You might think there have been no new ways to read, but even the ancient skill of reading comes up with innovative ways; enter speed reading. The standard slow process shouldn't affect your understanding, but it does kill your enthusiasm. The average adult goes through around 200 to 250 words per minute. A college student can read around 450 words, while a professor averages about 650 words per minute, to mention a few examples. The average speed reader can manage 1,500 words; quite a difference! Of course, the argument arises between quality and quantity. For avid readers, they want both quantity and quality, which leads us to the next point.

Quality Reading

Life is too short to expect to gain knowledge from just one type of genre. Some basic outcomes of reading are to expand your mind, perceive situations and events differently, expose yourself to other viewpoints, and more. If you only stick to one author and one type of material, you are missing out on a great opportunity to learn new things.

Having said that, if there's a book you are simply not enjoying, remember that life is also too short to continue reading it. Simply, close it, put it away and maybe give it another go later on, or give it away. There is no shame or guilt in not liking a book; even if it's from a favorite author. It's pretty much clear that you won't gain anything from a book that you don't even enjoy, let alone expect to learn something from it.

Summarize

If you're able to summarize what you have read, then you have understood. When you summarize, you are bringing up all the major points that enhance your understanding. You can easily do so chapter by chapter.

Take a good look at your life and what's going on in it. Accordingly, you'll choose the material that is much more suitable for your situation and circumstances. When you read a piece of information that you find beneficial, look for a way to apply it to your life. Knowledge for the sake of knowledge isn't all that beneficial. But the application of knowledge from a helpful book is what will help you and make your life more interesting and more meaningful.