Coronavirus rules the world right now. Spreading, infecting, killing.
The human race had to retreat into social distancing, self-isolation, quarantines and lockdowns.
And, for many people, it is the first time that they are truly alone. Cut off from their bustling lives and social interactions.
And, even if they never before struggled with low self-worth, they now feel insecure, unsettled, anxious. Because, in isolation, they are starting to doubt their worth.
Now, feeling worthless is nothing new for us introverts.
We are the social misfits, the outsiders. The ones who are always too anxious to introduce ourselves, start a conversation, invite others in.
We are the ones who never fit in, no matter what we try. The awkward rejects, who are too terrified to speak up and claim our place in society.
And we always believed that we were experiencing social isolation because we didn’t have enough worth. And as such we were unacceptable to others.
But what if worthlessness was never the origin of our social isolation? What if, instead, social isolation creates a feeling of worthlessness?
We aren’t lonely because we were worthless. Rather, we feel worthless, because we are alone. For 4 simple reasons.
Let me explain.Read more
Novel coronavirus, severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), has the world in its clutches.
Since I wrote the first part of the “What to do if you panic about coronavirus” series a couple of weeks ago, the number of infected people has risen to more than 1.4 million worldwide and over 80,000 more have died with COVID-19.
The number of new cases surges at a terrifying pace. With the global panic pandemic spreading faster still.
And all we can do is delay the inevitable. Wait out the storm. Hoping for the best while fearing the worst.
Because we have no treatment for the new virus strain.
And we feel out of control. Powerless. At the mercy of a ruthless enemy, with no pharmacological weapon to slay it.
We are defenceless.
Or are we?Read more
“Calm the fuck down!”
Several times I have seen this phrase written on colourful backgrounds of social media posts since the terror about coronavirus has clutched the world. Since people are self-isolating, social distancing and panic buying. And we all fear for our own lives and those of the ones we love.
And you know what? Me, personally, I would love to calm down.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful to wake up and realise it was all over? To find the threat of coronavirus disappeared over night.
And with it our inability to breathe. Or to focus on anything but the looming catastrophe. We wish for nothing more than to stroll into a sunny, new dawn with a light heart and a peaceful mind.
Knowing we are safe. And all is well in the world.
But it’s not that time yet.
And for those of us who struggled with anxiety and panic attacks before the pandemic, the current level of fear becomes unbearable.
Everything is changing yet again every few hours. We are overwhelmed by uncertainty. And a constant feeling of dread chokes us.
We try our best to keep functioning in a world that is now devoid of routine.
But we can’t eat because our stomach is too tight with anxiety. We can’t sleep, our mind ruminating endlessly, tormented by worries and fears. And we barely hold it together during the day.
And nobody knows how long this nightmare will continue.
So, what can we do to stop our emotional health from imploding? And the anxiety from swallowing us whole?
What can we do to calm the fuck down?Read more
A free guided meditation that you can listen to anytime you feel anxious or tense.
Sit back, relax and discover how to calm your nervous system, take the pressure off your chest and shield yourself from negative energies.Read more
Part 1: How to protect yourself and others from COVID-19
Novel coronavirus has been spreading across the world for weeks, followed by 24/7 news coverage.
As I start writing this post, at 4.40pm on 13th March 2020, 140,081 cases and 5,123 deaths have been recorded worldwide. By the time I’ll finish writing later today, the toll will have risen further and the whole situation will have changed.
Things are moving too rapidly to comprehend.
We are now dealing with a full-blown pandemic. Whole countries are in lockdown, travel bans in operation. Healthcare systems face breakdown, doctors and nurses burn out. The world economies suffer as stock markets plummet.
Schools and universities are closing. Supply of some essential items is low due to panic buying. Sporting events and concerts are suspended. Thousands of flights cancelled. Millions of people quarantined.
And we panic.
We are scared for our own health and the lives of the people we love. We are overwhelmed and confused. Focus on every sign of illness in ourselves and those around us. We are petrified of meeting other people. And we worry we run out of food (and toilet paper) in case of a lockdown.
Our anxiety spikes as we are bombarded with terrifying headlines and pictures of people in hazmat suits. And sometimes we can’t breathe and our hands shake. Because all the horrifying information on the unmanageable enormity of the problem becomes too much to handle.
So, in exceptional circumstances like this, how can we stop panicking? And how can we protect ourselves and others?Read more
I noticed lately that anxiety is creeping up on me again.
Several times in the last few weeks, if only for a moment, its invisible, cold hand clutched my chest and twisted my stomach. Especially before meetings, teleconferences or when I had to go out. Even if it was only to take the cat to the vet or my daughter to ballet lesson.
Now, I know what you’re thinking.
I’ve told you many times that I overcame my anxiety. I keep instructing you on ways how to eliminate the fear. And maybe that’s the reason why you are still reading my emails. Maybe you are hoping that you can free yourself from anxiety if you do what I did.
Because I succeeded.
So, to hear that anxiety is still part of my life must feel like a slap in the face. WTF, right?
But the thing is that I am not worried by anxiety’s return. I am not scared that I will be doomed to a life paralysed by fear. That I will return to a life sentence of misery. Trying to function in the world without anybody noticing my constant state of terror. Pretending that I’m fine while battling a fire-breathing monstrosity every minute of every day. Mortified of people’s judgements whenever I fail to contain the panic.
Been there, done that. Can’t recommend.
I no longer fear anxiety. It doesn’t make me feel like a failure, or a hopeless case. Or, in fact, a hypocrite.
Because I know something now I wish someone had told me 20 years ago. How much suffering it would have spared me.Read more
Tell me. Do you love yourself?
If your response to this question is “No” or “Uhmmm…” or a doubtful “Sometimes?” (usually accompanied by a knotting of the brows), answer me this.
Why not? Why can you not love yourself?
And that’s when your mind kicks in…
• Because I am not perfect, not good enough, not attractive, fit, wealthy enough.
• Because I am too old, too fat, too short, too lazy, stupid or selfish.
• Because my parents neglected me, my friends rejected me, my partner left me.
• Because I made too many mistakes, failed too many times, hurt too many people.
• Because I feel guilty for letting others down, am ashamed and disappointed with myself.
• Because I am single, lonely, behind in my career.
• Because I suffer from anxiety, depression or health issues.
• Because I am worthless and don’t deserve to be loved.
So many reasons to hate yourself.
But are your past mistakes really reason enough to abstain from self-love? After all, you are a different person now. You grew, evolved, make better choices.
And wouldn’t you look past other people’s flaws and shortcomings and still love them regardless? So why can’t you extend the same courtesy to yourself?
Even if nobody in this world loved you or cared for you (which is highly unlikely, by the way, no matter what your mind may tell you), wouldn’t this just be more reason to love yourself? Everybody needs love, right?
So, what’s the real reason why self-love is such a struggle for you?Read more
Have you ever asked yourself why you get so irritable?
When, all of a sudden, you feel so annoyed, or angry, or maybe upset that you could scream, cry. Tell everybody around you to just Fuck off.
It comes out of nowhere.
Ambushing you without warning.
One moment you think you are fine. The next you could strangle every person who wants something or dares to even talk to you.
The pressure in your chest chokes your breath and your brain screams: “Everybody just shut up!”
And it’s not like you at all.
You don’t usually snap at people. Or hurt them. You aren’t always so over-emotional or hyper-sensitive.
And you sure as hell don’t normally swear.
But, in this very moment, you can’t help it. It feels like you are possessed. It’s surreal.
And afterwards, when the short-tempered storm has passed, you feel so embarrassed. So guilty for being awful to the people in your life. For fighting with your partner, making the kids cry or causing your co-workers to retreat with this look of judgement in their disbelieving eyes.
You lost it.
Now you have to deal with the damage. And the shame.
You feel like you can’t live with yourself. You beat yourself up for being a terrible, emotionally unstable person. Lay awake at night seeking an explanation for your mood swings. Wrecking your brain.
Why do you become so irritable, out of the blue, without reason? What is wrong with you?
When the answer is: Nothing. Nothing is wrong with you.
You are just neglecting something essential.
You know the feeling.
The red-hot lump of lava gathering in your chest. Its acid vapours crawling up your throat. Clawing, constricting, squeezing until breathing is a chore.
The tension inside that’s mounting. Intensifying, swelling. Filling your entire body with unbearable pressure.
And you try to control your anger. You do your best to force it back down, distract yourself from the overwhelming urge to surrender to it. You struggle against the impulse to scream and punch, just to alleviate the pain and make the agonising stress disappear.
But, once again, you fail.
Once again, the rage is uncontainable. Its sheer intensity and power take you over. You have no chance. It explodes from you in a violent outburst. Destroying, insulting, smashing, hurting.
And when it’s all over, the welcome wave of relief is soon obliterated by shame, guilt and self-disgust. You feel like a horrible, unhinged brute. Maybe even a danger to yourself and others. Regret chokes you, makes you hate yourself.
How can you ever make this right, repair the damage you did when you allowed your fury to take control? How can you live with yourself now and for the rest of your life?
And perhaps most importantly:
How can you stop it from happening again, and again, and again?