The purpose of the “Back to Center” advice column is to provide perspectives for personal realignment and empowered living in the COVID era. Sarah encourages you to reach out to her with requests for advice about self-development and emotional and mental well-being in these complicated times. Please send your questions to email@example.com. Looking forward to hearing from you!
For all other inquiries, please direct your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
I’m not really an “it’s the end of the world” kind of guy…but my brother is. He’s convinced that COVID, the war in Ukraine, and other world events going on right now are all going to snowball together into one giant, catastrophic scenario. Again, I don’t usually get too ruffled about these things, but whenever I talk to my brother, his panic makes me feel really unsettled. Does the fact that I feel that way mean that there’s some truth to what he’s saying?
This is a great question. Feelings are such powerful things! What should we do with the difficult feelings of others that come crashing in on us, and are feelings indicators of truth?
First, there’s some commonly used language around feelings that needs to be called out for skewing the truth. You said, “His panic makes me feel unsettled.” We hear this all the time, right? “She made me so angry.” “He made me feel embarrassed.” “That party made me so happy.” “You are making me so crazy right now!!”
The truth is, the feelings we have are 100% ours. They are emotional reactions to thoughts we have about our interactions with and perceptions of life. You can’t have a feeling without having a thought first (try it!). All of this happens within you and cannot be inflicted on you by another person or external force without your consent.
Your brother is living in a state of panic, and when you speak with him, the thought “What if he’s right?” crosses your mind. Then, you start to think about what it could mean for the world if he is right and before you know it, you’ve hopped on the panic-train with him (or the unsettled-train, at least). But these are his feelings. You said you don’t usually feel fearful about world events or get caught up in imagining doomsday scenarios; there’s just something about speaking with your brother that makes it easier than usual to move into that state of mind.
When talking with your brother, I’d like to suggest that you go in mentally prepared to recognize his feelings as being his alone. You do not have to take on his fear; it is a choice. Before you meet up, take a few minutes to remind yourself of your own beliefs about life and the world. Write them down, say them out loud. You can even imagine a line between you and your brother, or some other mental boundary that his feelings cannot cross over to influence you.
Once you feel you’ve got more of a handle on ownership of your feelings, you will probably find it easier to be supportive of your brother - to listen to his concerns and sympathize with him. It’s a very powerful thing to be able to support someone else who’s in emotional distress and at the same time keep boundaries around your own feelings.
As for whether feelings equal truth…Our beliefs and thoughts about life shape our reality, and the feelings we have about life come from that reality we’ve created for ourselves. There are the facts of what’s happening before our eyes, and then there’s the way we perceive and interpret the facts. Clearly, you and your brother are interpreting world events differently, and are feeling differently about them as a result. We can all choose what reality we’re going to create for ourselves. So, what will your reality be?
I will put in a good word here for working on an outlook of positivity and abundance, because what you cultivate on the inside tends to manifest itself on the outside in your life. When you choose to see the good, you will see more and more of it. It’s self-reinforcing!
All the best to you!
I am a person of faith but have really been struggling with my relationship with God since COVID arrived. The pandemic has taken a heavy toll on my family’s business, and the financial struggles we’ve gone through make me feel like God isn’t taking care of us anymore. I don’t even believe it’s a real pandemic – it’s such a pack of lies – which makes the whole thing even worse. I want to believe that God still cares about my family – and the whole world – but I’m just spiraling and don’t know how to find my spiritual footing again…
Thank you for sharing your struggle so honestly and openly. It’s been a really difficult time, and faith has definitely been under pressure. I’m truly sorry for what your family has gone through.
I can’t speak for God, of course, but I can tell you some of what I know. I hope it’s helpful.
I don’t know you, but I would imagine that as a “person of faith” who cares about his relationship with God, you are probably interested in personal growth – in becoming more loving, trusting, generous, compassionate, patient…In fact, you probably wouldn’t be writing in to this advice column if you were not interested in becoming a better person, whatever that looks like for you.
As a person of faith myself, I believe that God is interested in seeing us grow too.
And the only way to really grow is through discomfort.
When everything is going great and we’re smoothly sailing along through life, we don’t always feel so motivated to work on ourselves.
But when a challenge comes and hits us, like the challenge of losing money in your business and the financial struggle that followed – we are confronted head-on with two options: 1) Fall down and stay there on the floor, or 2) pick ourselves up and use the pain, turmoil, and discomfort as tools for growth.
Yes, I agree – It seems clear that there are people with an agenda behind this “pandemic.” There have been lies, manipulations, and lots of ugly stuff. But let’s leave them out of it for the moment. This is between you and God. So, imagine it’s just the two of you, and consider asking (in whatever way you pray or interact) questions like, “What do you want me to learn from this experience? How do you want me to grow? How can I turn this pain into purpose?” Then, listen and look for the answers within your life.
Something else that might be helpful is to make a list of all the ways you can see God taking care of you and your family…and the world. They might be different answers than you would’ve given pre-COVID, and they might seem small, but that’s okay. Look for every little sign of care and love, write them down, and keep adding to the list. See how this impacts your outlook.
The fact that you’re asking the question about finding your spiritual equilibrium makes me feel certain that you will. Be gentle with yourself along the way, and work on releasing your worries about the process as they come up. May this journey bring you to even higher heights of spiritual fulfillment and growth!
- 'I have lost confidence in our healthcare system, including my own personal doctors'
- 'Can you forgive yourself for the years you couldn’t be there with your daughter?'
- 'My wife is willing to take the sacrifice for her sister and I'm sick to my stomach thinking about it'
- 'I deeply regret taking the vaccine'
- 'Married 39 years and I thought we were on the same page when it came to things that mattered most'
- ‘How do I repair this relationship or accept that I may never see my son again?’
- ‘How can I stop fear from controlling my every thought and ruining my dreams?’
- 'How can I pursue my dream to find the person to marry, when it's so hard to connect with new people because of COVID?'
- 'How can I feel safe these days?'
- Advice column premier: Back to Center
Sarah encourages you to reach out to her with requests for advice! Please send your questions to email@example.com
Sarah Perron is a Certified Transformational Life Coach. Her passion is to help people create a powerful vision for their lives, identify and eliminate anything that holds them back, and step into their own unique greatness and mission in the world. She believes deeply in the power of coaching to bring fresh perspectives, ideas, and motivation to anyone who wants to thrive in life. Sarah works with clients one-on-one and in group coaching programs and presents exciting workshops on self-development topics. You can follow her on her YouTube channel Find Your Fire.
You are invited to book a complimentary coaching call with Sarah! Please visit https://calendly.com/sarahperroncoaching/45min to choose a time that's convenient for you. She looks forward to meeting you!