You Don’t Have to Change the World During a Pandemic, Give Yourself Space to Bloom.

Image: Author’s own.

There is currently a lot of buzz around what people “should be” doing during the quarantine. Should be starting a “side hustle.” “Should be” learning a new language. “Should be” branding yourself. “Should be” learning an instrument. “Should be” discovering your purpose. And the list goes on.

Let me start off by saying that there are no “should be’s” in quarantine life. In fact, there are no “should be’s” in non-quarantine life. Where we are right now is where we’re meant to be. And what we’re doing right now is what we’re meant to be doing. However we’re processing the current situation is how we’re meant to process it.

These “should be’s” turn a blind eye to one very important point: we are all operating from different planes of consciousness.

While I admire the ambition, appreciate the sentiment behind all of these suggestions, and am certainly all for each person living their best life, bear in mind that these suggestions are all being made without regard to two very critical elements….each individual’s current circumstances and their current state of evolution.

I’m here to set the record straight, and to help you relieve some of the pressure you might be feeling to be doing more than you are right now. By using an approach that blends a psychology theory with the universal truth that spirituality is an individual journey, we can make significant progress toward accepting exactly where we are right now, without judgement and without feeling the need to do more or be more than we currently are.

It is important that we fully honor and embrace where we are, as each season of evolution serves as a stepping stone to the next. There is simply no way to accelerate the process or bypass certain stages.

In a time steeped in sky-high levels of uncertainty and fear such as the current pandemic we are facing, our focus may be on meeting our basic needs. Our current needs may be getting through the day, battling addictions bubbling up to the surface, making ends meet financially, or putting food on the table.

Some may be called to unleash their life purpose, but you may be in a very different space, and that’s okay.

Chapter 2 of my book SOAR serves it up straight with no sugar-coating, and reminds readers that this journey of life is an inside job:

“Whatever decisions you make in your life, people may feel the need to weigh in and express their opinion. Don’t worry about what people may think. That’s irrelevant. What you decide to do with your life is your business and your business only. You don’t owe anyone any explanations for what you’re doing or why you’re doing it, and you don’t need to solicit input or validation or approval from anyone. Your life is not a democratic entity; you’re the decision-maker. What it comes down to is if it resonates with your soul, then it’s the right thing to do. Everything in your physical reality will fall into place the way it’s supposed to when you learn how to co-create your reality with the Universe.”

Our willingness to stay true to our individual journeys, coupled with a basic understanding of an important psychology theory, and reinforced with a spiritual interpretation, will lay a solid foundation for truly honoring where we are.

Psychology courses introduce the concept of Maslow’s hierarchy. I’m not going to get all psychology text-booky on you, don’t worry, but stay with me.

Maslow was a psychologist who theorized that all human needs fall on a spectrum, from the most basic to the most evolved. Depicted in a pyramid, the needs are illustrated in five different tiers, beginning at the base of the pyramid as follows:

-Physiological — the most basic human needs for human survival, such as food, water, shelter

-Security — financial stability, good health, safe environment

-Social or Love and Belonging — family, friends, relationships, connection, community

-Ego or Esteem — recognition by others, status, feeling of accomplishment

-Self-Actualization — becoming the best version of yourself, discovering your purpose, adding value to the world

We start at the bottom of the pyramid, with our most basic physical needs being satisfied first. After we have established a stable foundation there, then we may progress to the next level of human needs. Every level serves as a stepping stone for the next, and we must graduate through each of the levels in a sequential order. There’s no express lane to the top of the pyramid. You have to go through all of the levels, one step at a time.

It is important to take note that humanity is currently undergoing a massive shake-up right now. This pandemic is leaving many people feeling vulnerable across the entire spectrum — physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually.

Some people may be relatively unaffected by the current events, and others may be struggling to make ends meet financially, may be experiencing turbulence in relationships, or are experiencing a variety of other hardships or challenges.

The “should be’s” the article opened with — the side hustles, the new languages, the branding, the learning an instrument, the changing the world…those are all endeavors that happen at the self-actualization tip of the pyramid. The highest, and smallest tier. And to put this into perspective, Maslow suggests that all other needs must be realized before a person reaches the self-actualization tier. And this is a very small slice of the population.

To celebrate this statistic, there are people on this earth who are meant to change the world. The world can always benefit from more thought leaders, visionaries, healers, spiritual warriors, and change makers.

If you don’t feel like you’re in that place, rest assured that you are in good company and that you’re where you’re meant to be. Meet yourself with self-acceptance and self-compassion and grace. Embrace the place you’re in, and focus on what is right in front of you, right now.

When we view the world through spiritual lenses, we realize that there is never a need to compare our journey to anyone else’s journey. The sooner we ditch the comparison mindset and embody a growth-based mindset, the sooner we open ourselves up to happiness, contentment, and fulfillment.

Every person on this planet has a unique set of life experiences that have molded and shaped who they are, and have played a role in delivering them to their current state of evolution. People are scattered across the various tiers of the pyramid.

The best thing we can do for each other is to become a silent observer in others’ realities. In my book SOAR, I discuss the individual nature of the spiritual journey and the importance of letting everyone progress on their journeys at their own pace:

“Everyone is on his or her own individual journey and awakens at different times, and at different speeds, depending on what situations and people are placed in their own personal reality. There’s really nothing that can be done to accelerate someone else’s evolution to bridge the gap between where they are and where you are. It needs to happen on its own time and in its own way. All forms of change and transformation need to come from within. Trying to force someone else’s transformation with some extrinsic factor is like trying to force a rose to bloom by prying the petals open. You’ll crush it. We must sit back and let the flower bloom in it’s own time. Everything in nature happens according to its own schedule. Some flowers bloom in early-spring. Some bloom in mid-spring. Some bloom at various points in the summer. In much the same way that we sit back and observe nature, the best thing we can do for someone else’s journey is to become a silent observer in his or her reality.”

Just as nature gives the space and the grace for flowers to bloom naturally, we must also grant that same space and grace for others to bloom according to their own time frame. All we need to do is sit back, relax, observe, and trust nature and the Universe.

During these challenging times, remember to give yourself the gifts of self-acceptance and self-compassion. We’re living in unprecedented times right now, and putting undue pressure on yourself to accomplish more than is realistic would be counterproductive. You’re doing the best that you can right now, so take a moment to recognize your efforts and celebrate your small victories. Simply by virtue of you showing up every day trying to do your best, you are changing the world in a positive way. I’m proud of you.

Formerly a consulting actuary for Fortune 500 companies, now the Founder of her life-coaching business Live Authentically & Author, her book SOAR available now.