• Antti Vanhanen

Trying to Stay Positive During COVID-19 Is A Terrible Idea

This morning, I came across about the 17,000th COVID-19 post that talked about our need to stay positive and resourceful during this pandemic.

You may have seen a couple thousand of those, too. On the face of it, it seems like a perfectly logical thing to say and promote. After all, isn't being positive better than being negative? Isn't it better to be resourceful than helpless? The only problem with it is - what do you do if you don't feel positive and resourceful? What if you happen to feel confused, overwhelmed, helpless, and insecure? What do you do then? Try to force yourself to feel different? Isn't that the equivalent of telling someone who is worked up to "calm down"? Fundamentally, what all those well-meaning posts are based on is the mistaken idea that it is fear, insecurity, and anxiety that make us perform worse and do stupid, selfish, and unhealthy things. Framing it in such a way makes fear and other negative feelings seem like problems that need to be avoided and/or solved.

But it isn't actually FEAR that is the problem.

On the face of it, that may sound like a weird thing to say, but it isn't actually FEAR that makes us act selfishly, inconsiderately, and unhealthily. It isn't actually FEAR that makes us start wars, skim from the cash register, start fights, or drink too much alcohol. After all, fear is nothing but a feeling. If you're afraid, then you're afraid. There's no problem. Yes, fear may cause your knees to wobble. Your heart may race. Your vision may blur. Your thoughts may scatter. You may even cry. And all of that is okay. They're just perfectly natural symptoms of what happens when we're afraid. And if we don't do anything about the fear, it will inevitably pass and we will feel something ELSE instead. This is how it has always been - with every single feeling ever. Every feeling in your life has come, and after a while, it's gone.

Fear is no different.

So if FEAR isn't the problem, what is then? Ironically, it's our RESISTANCE to fear. You see, when we are afraid, we often want to avoid, fix, destroy or cope with the fear. Those are all forms of RESISTANCE. Each of them is a strategy to make the bad feeling go away, because we are unwilling or unable to face the discomfort of fear. It is thus our RESISTANCE to fear that makes us cheat on our spouse, drink too much, procrastinate, and act like an inconsiderate, selfish knob, because those are all ways of avoiding, fixing, or coping with fear. So if you don't feel positive and resourceful and motivated and confident amidst this pandemic, that's totally okay. There's no one way you or anyone should feel. Not now, not ever. You are 100% allowed to feel whatever feeling is there. There's no feeling that is a mistake or a sign that something is wrong. ALL feelings are equally natural and human and healthy - including the scary, uncomfortable, or boring ones. And when you allow yourself to fully feel what you feel, that feeling will soon depart - just like every feeling you've ever felt before has departed. So rather than chase that perfect state of mind or try to put yourself in good feeling, just be present for whatever is there now. If you're confused, be confused. If you're anxious, be anxious. If you're terrified, be terrified. It's all okay. You were built to hold any and all feelings. There's no feeling that could possibly break you. Even the feeling of breaking is ultimately just a feeling that comes and goes. It doesn't actually break you. Ultimately, what you will see is that all uncomfortable feelings are just illusions that are blocking your true nature of freedom, peace, creativity, and joy. By feeling whatever feeling is present, you clear those feelings out. And then what's left is a mind that is calm and clear that knows exactly what to do. Just because you allowed yourself to feel what you feel.

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