The Universe/God/Higher Power never stops teaching us. While it is easy to feel aligned with this Power’s influence when times are easy, it is much more difficult to see the Universe at work when we are amid stormy waters. However, the fearful feelings that overwhelm us during these times are important messengers from our soul. This is the lesson I am learning under the tutelage of COVID-19.
There are times in life when choosing positive thoughts to drive your behavior rather than relying on the negative ones, is not possible. It is important to acknowledge that choosing positive thoughts does not always overcome your suffering. Strong emotions will win over thinking any day. This is why it is unfair—even thoughtless—to suggest to someone who has just lost a loved one, saw their bank account disappear or whose boss has placed them on an indefinite furlough to reflect on the positive lessons they will learn from the experience.
Learning from life’s watershed moments
All of our thinking comes from our experiences and what the surrounding adults taught us when we were children. Although much of this is good, not all of what we learned is healthy. Some of our experiences have left us fearful about the future and unsure about our value.
Case in point
This time of uncertainty has given me great anxiety even though I am safe, sheltered and financially sound (knock on wood). This anxiety hid in the situation’s newness. But, as the days rolled by and the freedoms in my life suddenly disappeared, I could sense a darkness casting a shadow deep within me.
At first, I blamed the round-the-clock news media and their constant barrage of talking heads reporting on the rising numbers of cases and deaths. Noticing the darkness within was worsening daily like a thickening fog, I stopped watching the news altogether. This helped at first, but it didn’t take long for the uncertainty this terrible situation has proliferated to overtake my emotional well-being.
My first instincts were to distract myself with meditation, exercise, connecting (virtually) with family and friends, walks in nature, reading a good book and focusing on what I have to be grateful for. But bouts of anxiety began interrupting my sleep with insomnia and reduced my attention span during my waking hours.
To manage this new condition, I started taking sleep aids at night and naps during the day. A few mornings later, my anxiety raised the stakes. I woke up to a horrible shrill sound in my ears coming from inside my head. I had experienced nothing like it. After five minutes of this nuisance, I was frantic. After an hour, I was desperate.
I seldom search for medical advice from Google. Every time I have done so, the brains at Google seem to think this is a sign I going to die from it, even from having dandruff! (ok, so I exaggerated a little), but today I needed advice on how to deal with this intolerable situation. My Google search found an ailment called “tinnitus”, but it didn’t offer any quick strategies to quiet the sound. Suddenly, I had a panic attack. I don’t remember ever experiencing one, but this was serious. Not only was I at a loss about how to minimize it, I could not imagine living out life in such a state. There was nothing I could do except ride out this anxious wave.
I found a little relief by breathing in and out of a bag I held around my nose and mouth. Broadcasting some peaceful sounds through my earphones also seemed to help. But no amount of choosing positive thoughts, concentrating on my breath or reciting a mantra had any effect. These had been the tried-and-true methods I had been using to find peace and joy in my life, but they were useless in this situation. It left me shaken.
Many people are suffering during this pandemic. The pain they are experiencing from their loss can leave them feeling as desperate as having someone screaming in their ears. I just learned this lesson firsthand. My heart goes out to them in love and compassion for I know they must be desperate inside. I also learned some other things.
Your soul’s messages
There are several published articles from medical professionals about a general feeling of anxiety many are experiencing during these times. This is why I wanted to share what I learned.
The main lesson is this; anxiety, anger and fear, although they make us uncomfortable, are not bad things. These emotions are your soul’s effort to get your attention to things buried in your psyche. Your soul waits for the right occasion to bubble these hidden feelings up so you can heal them.
Our ego has stored weird things in our unconscious mind. New situations remind your unconscious mind of old ones. It then reacts to these situations according to the old knowledge stored. This works well most of the time. For example, if you learned to ride a bicycle, you would still know how to do it today even if you haven’t ridden in decades. However, it is one thing to remember how to ride a bike; it is another to deal successfully with overwhelming pain based on terrible things you experienced as a child.
My soul overpowered me with such severe anxiety that it left me with no choice but to sit with it until it subsided. This was excruciating for a while, but it slowly settled into a more manageable level. Strangely, during this white-knuckle period of waiting, I recalled a time when a severe asthma attack shook me from my sleep. This happened in a converted Army barracks in Miami that was being used to process Cuban children—sent unaccompanied by their parents to the United States—to orphanages around the country. At the time of my asthma attack, my brothers and I had been living in these barracks for one week following the traumatic separation from our parents, a day I will probably always consider the worst day of my life.
Once I could calm down, something told me that this memory and my current anxiety were related. I was ten years old and at the lowest point in my life at the time of my asthma attack. There was no way to foretell how my life would turn out. The uncertainty about my future filled me with overwhelming feelings of fear and anxiety. Who would take care of us? What about our future? Would we survive? My brothers and I were like three leaves floating at the mercy of an unknown wind. We were helpless and had no choice but to rely on unknown adults to decide our future for years to come.
The terrible prospects of this pandemic had triggered in me the feelings I had experienced as a little boy. I was reliving in the present the traumatic feelings that had hidden in my psyche since my turbulent exodus from Cuba in 1961. It is my own case of PTSD, and the coronavirus has forced me to face these long-hidden fears.
Pay attention to birds. They don’t have bank accounts, retirement plans, nor do they need to hoard toilet paper. They don’t question how the Universe will provide for them; they just know that it will.
The same lesson applies to us; a Higher Conciousness has equipped each one of us with everything we need to deal with all life throws at us. The lesson I am learning is this; my soul used my anxiety to show me the self-doubt keeping me from connecting with my higher self and my place in the world. My hidden fears and insecurity have been hiding this reality from me and I am sure yours are doing the same. There is something important for you to discover in them.
Where do I go from here? While no one can guarantee our future and that of our country, I recognize that I am not a helpless child at the mercy of strangers deciding my future. I am a grown man with many skills and experiences. Whether I live one more day or twenty more years, I can choose to believe the Universe has equipped me well and will conspire with me for my greatest good. And, while I don’t control everything that happens in the world, I can deal with what comes in my conscious realm rather than succumb to the unconscious reaction based on the fears I buried in my psyche since I was a little boy.
I don’t know if my anxiety will go away, but I am pretty sure I am on the road to healing the cause.
I hope my story helps you recognize the gift your soul is giving you through negative feelings.
Remember, paying gratitude for your life forward will reward you with much joy and contentment.