I went for a jog today. It was a fresh, misty, slightly-chilly day. My favorite! It always feels great to walk outside for fresh air and open space where the only sound I hear is the beautiful tone of music I have singing in my ears.
However, amidst the worldly pandemic, this adventure outside started a little more eerie for me than typical. Usually I will see cars go by, people outside, and hear traffic sounds echoing in the air.
This time everything seemed to sit still even as I walked. Increasing my pace to a jog, I could feel my heart rate increase too–in anticipation of where I, in this crisis, was going. My breath suddenly felt caught in my throat. My muscles clenched in fear of where I may be headed. I quickly became overwhelming annoyed with the mist that began to cover my glasses as I ran. Even though I knew I would only be near-sighted without them on, I felt I had to take the wet, glassed off to even consider continuing my run.
In that very moment, I realized my clearest view of perseverance came when I took my glasses off.
I know this is atypical but let me explain.
Today, like my jogging, we are in a place of discomfort, uncertainty, and heightened stress. This certainly holds true when we consider the national run towards a cure for the virus. But beyond just this journey, I have to wonder if we all have moments where we are so blinded by what we want to see happen that we lose the value of where we are at that very moment.
When I took my glasses off, I gained a forced-focus on what was right before me. The hear and now. What I could handle. What kept me going. All of a sudden, I could gain stamina by focusing on just the next step rather than pacing in fear of what could be from my future steps. I was forced to reflect on where I had already been and from that alone find reasons to believe I could keep going. Being in a society engulfed with anxiety, that realization felt liberating.
That moment reminded me that we all need to resist being blinded from joy due to anticipation of a future unknown. This can be both a challenge and an opportunity many of us will face every day.
In this time of turmoil, here are 3 ways to find a clearer hope for today no matter what blinding fogs may lay ahead.
- Remember what you have made it through before.
Today is not yesterday. Thank you, Lord!
But we have all had a yesterday. There are experiences where we have all faced challenges, hardships, temptations, addictions, fears, illness, etc. Re-discover yours. Maybe there were times that you felt you could not make it through. But, look at you now. You did it!
In the stew of emotions and “what ifs” that surround you don’t lose sight of where you were before. Don’t forget what you have accomplished. Challenged. Faced. Preserved through. We can empower each other to continually run the race when we remember where we are compared to where we started. Find a way (such as a photo, a mantra, a song) to acknowledge and reflect on your past successes every day. When I was jogging, my reflection on how tough it was to even get that far was what fueled my stamina to keep going.
2. Find power in what you can choose to do today.
Don’t forget how much power you have in this very moment–today. Often we get so lost in the criticism of the one that should be most precious to us-ourselves-that we feel powerless. Stop that negativity! Give yourself verbal credit for being here, now, in this very moment, as a precious gift to yourself and others. Find a way to identify and focus on your greatest strengths.
- Put pictures of yourself using your strengths in a place you can see daily.
- Put a list of your accomplishments or a positive photo of yourself as the screen cover on your phone.
- Have a conversation with someone who knows you well about what he/she sees as your strengths. Write it down.
- Identify your strengths, learn about them, and then use them to influence the choices you make.
Equip youself to challenge temptations and struggles that may arise from hard times such as anxiety, alcohol, anger, abuse, or other negative behaviors. Silent that wolf that cries lies in your mind. Remember, you are not alone. No one is more than or less than the value of another. Let your internal strength blossom by choosing to accept that life is tough while holding the belief that you are too. Fight the urge to lose sight of how powerful you are by simple actions:
- Write down 3+positive things about yourself. Focus on how to use those skills daily.
- Laugh a little. (or a lot) Find ways to do it daily.
- Think about things you enjoy doing. Plan to do at least one of those activities 30+ minutes each day.
- Learn to do what you love so you can make a path to love what you do!
In my jog, I had to take my glasses off to remember that even though I couldn’t change the view of where I was, I could change the way I looked at and reacted to it.
3. Believe in a finish line
There will be a finish line. However, in this crisis run, maybe you can’t see it. Maybe it seems too far, far away. Maybe you are hurting. Maybe you are suffering. Maybe you are physically separated. But from a reflection of the mountains you have passed and the strong, purposeful choices you have made, you can find reason to believe that you and your story are not done.
Beyond a challenge (as time as has shown) there is more to come. And eventually, there will be a finish line in view.
- Keep your pace up.
- Focus on just the next step…and then the next…
- Remember times in your life when the finish line seemed so distant or even nonexistence but you kept going, and, eventually, the path you choose got you there.
The real power for omitting the foggy view of things so far ahead comes from taking nothing more than one step at a time and still believing there is a finish line. Do nothing less than believing you’ll get there! Onward…
Amber Jewell is K-12 social worker that loves to encourage and inspire people to push through tough times. She is a believer of great things, greater opportunities, and the greatest in people.
Instagram and Twitter@ajewellspeaks