An experience I had flying back from Florida recently got me thinking more about the theme of personal responsibility. It’s easy to deflect personal responsibility for the state of our lives. We blame others—our partners, bosses, childhoods—for our irrational behaviors. Lately, I’ve been observing that it’s become socially acceptable to blame the COVID pandemic for a broad spectrum of things and passively wait for it to go away rather than take steps to proactively bring in change. Having an unwarranted emotional outburst? Blame COVID. Avoiding finding a more fulfilling job or partner? Blame COVID. Don’t want to see your relatives? Blame COVID.
I was waiting my turn at the American Airlines outdoor check-in counter. As I stepped up to speak with the skycap, a woman walked up, interrupted me, and began an emotional rant directed at the skycap. Her situation was related to her broken luggage, and had nothing to do with him. She then walked away blaming her rude behavior on the stress of COVID. The skycap kept cool.
[Read: “How to Protect Yourself From Other People (and the News).”]
I asked him what percentage of the people he currently interacts with seem emotionally unbalanced.
“Umm…about forty percent,” he replied.
“And before COVID?”
I told him it seemed like COVID was now the excuse for everything from bad behavior to politely declining an invitation from the in-law you don’t really miss. That after two years our brains have formed habits that aren't empowering us.
“We need to take our power back,” I said.
“You’re damn right, Miss.”
Yes, the lingering nature of the pandemic has taken a toll on everyone’s mental and physical health. I do not minimize the very real difficulties we have faced.
But every trial in life can be considered as either an excuse or an opportunity for personal growth. Both mindsets require your energy. One drains it further while the other feeds it. Do you want to be a victim or a creator of destiny? The latter is the only choice if you want to thrive.
[Read: “6 Signs You May Have COVID Trauma.”.]
Here are eight ways to help you create rather than blame.
Do Joyful Things. Don’t stop singing, dancing, and feeling joy. Engage in creative pursuits and listen to high-frequency music.
Meditate. Research proves that the practice of meditation results in long-lasting positive psychological effects that support optimism, self-awareness, and stress reduction. It also helps us to become more attuned to the temporary nature of our thoughts and emotions and makes it easier to let go of bad habits. Begin with five minutes a day for a week, and increase to ten minutes the next.
Practice Gratitude. Combat fear-based narratives by counting your blessings. Break your life down to what’s most basic and appreciate it. (Remember, a large portion of the planet doesn’t have fresh water flowing from their tap.)
Minimize Alarmist Media. Fear-based messaging equals negative energy, be it related to health, politics, or local news. Protect your energetic field and minimize your exposure to this.
Touch Others. Human beings are hardwired to be social and connect to one another. For example, holding a premature baby on the bare chest has been shown to increase survival rates. Help someone or see them rather than text, phone, or Zoom.
Rethink Life. Every challenging experience allows us to discover something about ourselves, if we let it. Choose to leverage this pause in activity by reevaluating your life. Have you redefined abundance? Are you where you want to be? Living purposefully? In the right relationship, vocation, or location? What, exactly, will make for a fulfilling life?
Prioritize Preventative Health. The pandemic has reminded us that a strong immune system is our most important asset. Your holistic health is a result of your mental, physical, and emotional states. Stress negatively impacts each. Learn how to balance your nervous system and incorporate nutrition, movement, and nature into your lifestyle.
Take Action. Take small steps to create the life you want. Contact that person, take that class, initiate that lifestyle change, reach out for support, etc. Taking action puts the energy of your intentions into motion.
The skycap checked in my bag and handed me my boarding pass and baggage claim check. As he did, a man ran up to him yelling that he had missed his flight. After sounding off for a few minutes, the man realized that he had overstepped his boundaries. He quickly apologized, blaming his behavior on the stress of COVID, then ran inside the terminal talking to himself.
“Thank you for being here today, Miss. Enjoy your flight … and your power,” the skycap said with a wink.
You have far more command than you realize. Stop blaming COVID and choose to take your power back.
Looking for more articles on reclaiming your power? Read: “Tapping Therapy: Reclaim Your Emotional Freedom.”