When the pandemic first started we were all feeling overwhelmed and uncertain. Feelings of insecurity and fear were constant and persistent. This moved many in many ways. Some entered a fearful mindset and began thinking only about the past (in the things we lost and couldn’t retrieve soon) or thinking about the future (the anxious feeling that what’s to come might be worse than what’s been happening). Many others were moved to find solutions and alternatives like how to work, organize their homes and gather socially. Those people thinking of solutions were able to focus on the present, observe their surroundings and act accordingly. In this way, may restaurants and stores offered home delivery, classes migrated to online schooling and workplaces gathered from home offices around the world. Parties and celebrations were also transferred to online avenues as well.
uncertainty means not having a clear picture of something, for example not knowing how or when the pandemic will end, when will we be able to leave the face mask behind and plan a trip with some notice. This lack of knowledge tends to make us feel insecure, anxious and fearful which in turn ejects us from the executive mindset and makes it hard for us to make confident decisions.
Impermanence on the other hand is a different way of seeing things. It is a philosophical term that sees life as a series of constant changes. It states that everything is temporary and always changing, a truth present in every single detail in life. Just like the day turns to night and different to the previous day, challenges too come and go and are different to those faced in the past.
If we see things through the lens of impermanence, yesterday you might’ve been on vacation but today you are not, but you will return to travel one day again. Maybe the trip won’t have the same original destination or be on a different day.
If we accept impermanence we can understand when things get unexpectedly canceled, when a co-worker misses work or a close friend’s wedding gets moved. If what I’m living will only last a certain period of time then why worry? Things will surely change!
Of course, accepting the concept of impermanence is not enough, I need to adapt my way of facing change:
If I choose to paralyze I stop perceiving what is happening and can’t act. However, if I observe with close attention to what happens and move in the direction of change then I can adapt and make better decisions. I can see the situation as an opportunity or a challenge and accept that it’s something that’s simply just happening and that I can probably extract a lesson from.
Being conscious about our ways of thinking and acting is important because it’s in those words and actions that we communicate to our close ones our intentions.
What do I want to transmit to my loved ones?
Do I want them mto be able to see change as an opportunity for learning and that they can be capable of analyzing different options that are presented to them with an endless amount of variables and factors so that they can make a decision? Or do I want them to be fearful in the face of the unknown and subsequently seek refuge in food, boredom or addictive behaviors?
If you’re still not comfortable with the term impermanence, guess what? Even still things will constantly change and we don’t know what route they will take. So in that case we might as well as ourselves what will be more helpful? A fearful outlook or a calm and comfortable one?
Impermanence can’t answer our questions about the future, nor the certainty that things will be better, just a knowledge that things will be different. The safety and confidence must come from within us. In the knowledge that we have all the tools we need to confront difficult decisions and the right people around us to listen, value and accept us. The security that if we fail we can do something different next time because things change and opportunities present themselves frequently.