Adversity, suffering, loss, worry, a sense of failure, mistakes galore. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed, depressed, and hopeless right now.
Dwelling and ruminating on these feelings makes them worse, then even harder to bounce back. Feeling and naming our grief, despair, and other feelings is the first step to healing, coping, then moving forward with purpose.
Our culture seems to have the mindset that bad things are not supposed to happen. We’re not supposed to make mistakes because it’s some kind of character flaw or lack of intelligence on our part.
It’s just not true. Life is VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous) and it’s impossible to predict and prepare for all inevitabilities. Therefore, bad things and mistakes are just going to happen no matter how hard we try.
Plus it’s also true that we’re not perfect, especially in VUCA conditions. The definition of being human means being flawed, but that does not mean we have to dwell in our failures, losses, and imperfections. Being overly-focused on failure and loss usually results in us being unable to move on or move forward.
Science tells us that having a growth mindset, i.e. one where we believe we can learn and grow, can help us be more resilient and successful. We need the growth mindset more than ever now, and the willingness to transform mistakes into lessons and opportunities, and bad things into learning and growth.
The pandemic is a great example of a VUCA situation, one in which we were not prepared to deal with. We’ve made mistakes along the way, we’ve experienced losses and grief, and challenges galore. But we do not have to hitch our wagons to the downward spiral that comes with a fixed mindset, or the belief that we cannot grow, change, and learn. We must grow, change, and learn so that we can be more resilient, more successful, better prepared, and spiral upward to thrive better than ever.
Since the onset of the pandemic we’ve seen things we cannot unsee, we’ve learned things we cannot unlearn, and we’ve developed new habits that are currently our new reality. We’ve rediscovered communion with nature as a source of comfort, inspiration, and entertainment. Maybe we can’t unsee the fact that she’s always been there for us with open arms, and is bringing her creatures to us in ways we have not seen for generations.
Earth is embracing us when we need her. She embraced me when I was going through my own crisis that started just over two years ago. What I could not unsee after that was her constant and loving presence and care for me. I cannot unlearn how she comforts me and inspires me, and makes me feel like I can never be alone.
It’s not just Earth’s presence and care that had been flying under the radar for years. The COVID pandemic is also revealing to us the workers who labor on behalf of our wellbeing, often under the radar: the people and industries that provide essential goods and services. We ignore them, we under pay them, we do not protect them (incredulously, even now), yet they are there to make sure we have what we need to maintain our health and homes.
This decades-long habit of taking for granted what is most important has to stop. The pandemic has opened our eyes to what is most important, including Earth and others who provide for what we need. The question is: What we do with what we’ve seen and learned during our sequestration? Do we continue to act as if front-line people and Earth do not matter? Or do we finally start aligning our priorities with what is most essential to our survival and ability to have a good life?
I know this is a time of reflection and introspection for many of us. To ensure that we move forward with the highest chance for all to thrive again, perhaps channeling our lessons into a new way of doing business going forward, is in order. Let’s build our learning and hard-earned insight into practices and priorities that reflect what’s most important. Let’s transform our losses and grief into improvement and more effective practices that can provide for all in the Earth community.