• Dr. Jin Lee

Where is your mind?

Updated: Apr 17, 2020

Last night, I was watching a movie Cool Runnings with my family and got a text alert about stay-at-home order in Colorado.

When I saw the text, I was thinking the order was just a matter of time with the ever increasing COVID-19 concerns.

After the thought went through my mind, something also hit me: Mixed feelings – feeling relieved, restless, surreal, disbelief, you name it.

They were almost like waves of the ocean hitting me, one after another.

Then I read this article talking about the way we are feeling (“discomfort” it said) is actually grief. That’s right, grief.

When we hear grief, we think of death.

With the COVID-19, I think it’s fair to say that we lost our “normal life” (whatever normal means these days).

Some might have lost their job or loved ones.

Others might be worried about losing things, which is called anticipatory grief (“something bad is gonna happen”).

The famous stages of grief were introduced by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross about 40 years ago.

The stages include:

1. Denial (What’s happening? I don’t believe this)

2. Anger (Why is this happening to me? It’s not fair? I blame XXX)

3. Depression (I’m doom gloomed. Why bother?)

4. Bargaining (Maybe if I can change a little bit, things might be better.)

5. Acceptance (This sucks, but it’s going to be ok. I will be ok)

Then David Kessler, a grief guru, added the 6th stage:

6. Finding meaning (Maybe this was meant to be XXX)

The bad news is that we go through these stages back and forth constantly – denial to bargaining to depression to denial to anger to denial to depression to bargaining to acceptance to anger, etc.

The good news is that these stages and our feelings are temporary, just like waves come and go.

Wherever your mind is, here are some concrete action plans you can do to get through the stresses:

1. Write down your stage -  Where are you now? Rather than thinking in your head, writing down clears your mind (remember brain dump?). The moment you write down, it’s out of your brain!

2. Kindness – the article talks about stocking up compassion. I would say do one act of kindness to yourself or others, big or small, doesn’t matter. When you act on kindness, you automatically feel better.

If you have a bad day, that’s ok. Acknowledge it, and continue picking yourself up because there is no such thing as a failure.

It’s just another day, just like waves coming and going.

Eventually we will ride the wave and come to the shore.

What stage are you today? And what kindness action did you do (or are planning) today?


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