COVID-19: The One Thing To Remember

More than threatening our lungs, COVID-19 is targeting our mind, with its fear inducing campaign. The media’s in-depth coverage of severe cases has gone viral. While this serves as an effective warning urging us to maintain social distancing, there’s no doubt it’s also corroding our resilience.

A plethora of studies have confirmed it long ago: anxiety, fear and negative visualization can suppress our immune system. Not only we are more prone to catch the virus, but if we do – we experience the symptoms more severely and we delay our healing. In other words, what we feed our mind with is a critical prognostic factor – at times, more important than the underlying health condition or the advanced age.

Most of us are oscillating between the fear of a positive diagnosis and the denial of positive thinking: “It won’t happen to me”. But what if? What if you do test positive for COVID-19? Either because you are a first responder or simply because your infected neighbour sneezed in the hallway, a few moments before you went to take the trash out. How will you deal with it?

Recalling other patients’ lost battles, the virus’ unpredictability and its potentially severe symptoms can be daunting. Everything you’ve read fuels your negativity bias, increasing the risk of a self-fulfilling prophecy. Instead of visualizing your healing, you keep imagining the destructive spherical cell with spikes protruding from its surface. No wonder – after all, you’ve seen this picture so many times in the media. So how can you shift your mindset?

I am challenging you to uncover the tremendous mental resilience, confidence and faith within. Escape fear by sailing through it. Remember the giants you faced in the past and take heart! Remember the inspiring stories of survivors who defied the odds. You need to know you are unbeatable. You need to feel it in every cell of your body: You’ve got this. I want you to promise to yourself that no matter what, you will fight and conquer it.

Look in the mirror and face any self-doubt. You are more than just a number reported by Worldometers. You are equipped to go through it, so program your mind to survive. Your immune system is more trained than a Navy SEAL. Your life force will set in motion your healing. I hope and wish that none of us will ever need to remember this message. But if life does put us to the test, the only line you will need to remember is this: You are incredibly strong and you will make it.

***Note: By no means you should put yourself and others in danger. Stay at home. Follow the instructions provided by your local authorities and the prevention advice of the World Health Organization.

The virus is COVID-19. Who Are YOU?

The world, as we used to know it, has changed. Quarantine. For a moment, we forgot how fragile we were. We forgot that life is a deep personal experience, entrusted to us for a brief period of time. Our journey is ours alone. The safety of the herd is precious, life-saving at times, yet not irrefutable.

We felt secure surrounded by people. Yet here we are. Isolated. Safety is no longer defined through connection, but through distance. The “live” is risky, the online comforting. We are being taught there is no manual. No absolute concept. Only resettable truths.  

We surrounded ourselves with material things. With expensive cars. Now, we have nowhere to drive them. Nowhere to go. We traded our time and energy for money. Now, they can’t save us. We defied the sun in our quest for efficiency. Now, feeling its sunrays on our face is a luxury.

We paid tickets, marvelling at the creative minds behind a screenplay. Now we are living it. And we are being taught resilience, courage, humility. The “off” button is out of our reach. We are not the spectators. We are the actors. Somewhere, a high-resolution screen plays our movie.

We got intoxicated by our possessions and routines, fixated on self-made truths, entangled in the intricacies of our own busy lives. We saw in our achievements frail stairs to “forever”. We were deaf and blind to the world. To the statistics. To the poverty and hunger in Africa. Because we had it all.

We polluted the skies with our inflated egos and we called it smog. We built ivory towers to host our trivialities and we called them sky-scrappers. We swarmed across the globe until earth’s sigh dissipated us all.

Now, the virus can’t be bought. Our routines can no longer hide us. The truths are redefined. Safe is not “together” but “apart”. Busy is no longer an excuse. And the gratitude for today is the only firm step towards forever. The ego bubble burst and the skies are clear. Suddenly, we are exposed. Alone in our ivory towers, devoid of distractions, we must face ourselves. Who are we? Who are you?  

**Image via Alexandre Chambon, Unsplash

Shades of Spring

Nature is so colorful and joyful! A song about God, not a hymn to serendipity. Yet every day we estrange ourselves more from its vibrant rhythms, cutting the cord that supplies us with liveliness. Instead, we’re sinking deeper into the gloomy routine of our office cubicles and shopping malls.

Have you noticed? When asked to describe a certain color, we point to the synthetic dyes around us, instead of nature’s sublime nuances – the warm yellow of a daffodil, the soft pink of the sky at sunset, the dazzling purple of a lilac, the vivid blue gracefully worn by a butterfly.

Don’t let this spring pass you by. Reconnect with nature. Let the sun’s soothing glow fill you with calmness; let the fresh earthly smell awaken your quest for new adventures; marvel its richness of colors and get inspired to replace the grey of lost hope with the turquoise of fulfilled dreams.

Have a meaningful spring!

**Image via Canva

Mindsets – The Modern Epidemics

Growing up with mindsets was pretty much a given for the millennials and not only. Our minds are modeled to fit in the boxes set by society, parents or religion. By the time we are eighteen we find ourselves constantly struggling to find who we are. But no matter how much we search, all we stumble upon is prejudice and a prescriptive life path designed by our families: you should study hard to get a well-paid job, buy a house and a car, get married and have kids.

Having a hobby is sometimes part of the plan – playing sports, painting or writing on your blog. Yet hobbies are nothing more than a concession aimed to diffuse the tension of living a predefined life; in other words, a hobby is similar to the spout of a teapot – can’t escape the heat, but at least is free to whistle. 

The deep quest for our authentic self continues through adulthood. The modern world could not conceal it, so it found a word for this as well: sabbaticals. Once the burden of our own life wears out our body, we take a break. Some manage to get closer to who they really are: take risks, make drastic changes to their lives – move abroad or start studying what they really like. Many go back to the routine, realizing that’s all they have. Their own self can no longer be rescued. So, they look up either with prejudice at the others’ rebellion or with admiration for their courage.

The continuous search for purpose and authenticity has turned into business. Big companies such as Google, SAP or Goldman Sachs have even introduced meditation & mindfulness programs for their employees. Everybody wants to enlighten, to let the silence push their true selves into consciousness.  Away from the routine, we look for healing, self-discovery and a higher something we cannot name ourselves; we desperately look for validating a simple truth: happiness is not about how good we are in following patterns but how strong we are in fighting against them.

No wonder motivational books are top sellers and “how to be happy in n steps” articles are the most searched on Google. The standards set by society are followed by the vast majority in an attempt to fit in, to please parents, bosses and friends. Or simply because nobody ever taught us how to redefine ourselves in their absence.

Yet, people have not given themselves up fully. The more books we publish on the topic and the more we talk about it, the more we feel we stand up for ourselves. But is this true change? No. In order to relearn how to live beyond mindsets, we must first unlearn, set our minds free from the cage, shift from emulating others towards building ourselves. Cutting ties. Taming fears. Going back to our unborn self and redesign it. Not letting it harden into new mindsets again; but keeping it like a piece of clay that allows us to constantly fine tune our amazing self.

**Image via Pixabay

7 Signs of a Toxic Manager

1. You developed anxiety. Your heart races before a meeting and you dread any interaction. On one hand, you want to sound confident and not let their quick temper affect you; on the other hand, you tend to give up and agree with any point they make simply because you have no strength left to make yourself heard.

2. You started to doubt your performance: are you good enough? Is your role too much for your skills? But then you remember your track record: you work with many stakeholders and you do have results. Senior management is satisfied with your work – you make things happen, you step in, you put in extra effort and add value to your team and your company.

3. Your word carries no weight. When trying to convey an idea, you are interrupted with a blatant “no” before fully articulating your case. Every time you flag risks, these are strongly disregarded. If they materialise, you are invited to self-reflect on how you can prevent them next time. If you ask for advice or a solution, you are responded with an angry grunt: “it’s your job to find solutions”. You feel burdened and alone.

4. You are not supported during meetings with other stakeholders. It seems you two are not in the same boat. Your manager fails to hear you or to stand up for your team. At times, you choose silence over feedback. As the saying goes, “leaders who don’t listen will eventually be surrounded by people who have nothing to say” (Andy Stanley).

5. You lack direction. Your experience no longer helps you make a decision and your inner compass leads you astray: when to say “Yes”?! when to say “No”?! Every time you say “No”, your boss will incline towards “Yes” and vice versa. Sometimes, they can change their mind various times and increase confusion through a lack of structure and consistency.

6. You are thriving in their absence. You are motivated and able to set things in motion. You work, you have fun, you build connections and trust. Conversations flow smoothly and you invest more energy into your work than in trying to overcome anxiety, doubt or heated arguments.

7. You are google-ing how to deal with a toxic manager and you think quite often about this quote: “people don’t leave companies, they leave bad managers”.

You don’t need further validation. Remember you deserve more. Stand up for yourself or just leave.