With the right mindset you can look for the benefits that can come from the coronavirus.

Just as a rainbow can only be seen after the storm, there can be silver linings to our challenges right now…if you look for them!

So at this time, we have an opportunity to choose how to respond to what comes up for us. Perhaps an old pattern would have been to react, stay in fear, maintain habits that didn’t bring you joy or fulfillment, or over-identify with old stories of how you define yourself.

But this great pause that we are in is offering us a chance to do things differently, and if we are mindful of this opportunity, we can use this time for our benefit to grow and create lasting change in areas that we’ve most desperately been needing a shift.

In this week’s episode (click here to listen now!) of the Journey Forward with Joree Rose podcast, I interview Robert Strock, a licensed marriage and family therapist of almost 50 years. He offers great wisdom and tools that, if we choose to, we can use to harness a silver lining in light of what we as a common humanity are experiencing.

So, here are 5 tools to practice right now to create lasting positive change in your life:

It’s okay to be human and acknowledge your experience. You have emotions. You have hard emotions. And that’s okay; this is part of the human experience. There is nothing wrong with you for feeling what you feel. It’s normal and natural. The key is to look for ways to care for yourself when you are feeling what you are feeling. Can you be kind to yourself, rather than judge yourself?

Can you allow yourself to have friendly thoughts, even when your heart is hurting? Practice allowing yourself to notice and not run away from what feels uncomfortable.

The emotion isn’t permanent; it will pass. Simply allow yourself to be with what you’re feeling without judgment and resistance – see what happens.

Don’t ask “why?” There often isn’t an answer to the question of why. Asking the question of “why?” puts you right back into a spiral of reactivity. There are some things that there are no explanations for and yet we accept; the sky is blue, the grass is green, feelings are normal.

When we can accept what is, without spiraling into the “why?” of what’s behind it, we suffer less. The “why?” often leads to judgments, reactions, resistance, denial…all of which create stronger negative thoughts, more uncomfortable sensations in our bodies and emotions that may be hard to sit with.

Accepting what is, allows the thoughts, emotions and sensations to quiet down; it’s a paradox that acceptance shortens and softens our experiences.

Know that vulnerability breeds connection. We’ve been listening to Brené Brown tell us this for years, and while it’s true, it is way easier said than done. But when we can be vulnerable to not only feel what we feel, but share our vulnerabilities with those around us, we realize that we are not only human, but we are a process, and not always need a solution.

This knowledge helps us to be more able to show up to others when we aren’t hiding behind what makes us human. Only once we can show up for ourselves, can we show up for others. And when we show up for others in this vulnerable way, it gives them permission to feel what they are feeling as well. This shared experience can bring you closer together with others.

Recognize where your choices are. While you don’t have a choice in what arises (such as your thoughts or emotions), you do have a choice in what you do with it when it does come for you.

Robert Strock tells us that “emotions are a terrible barometer into how you are doing.” He says that it’s how you respond to your emotions that is more important than how you feel. The question isn’t to ask yourself how you are feeling, but rather “how are you responding to what you are feeling?”

Learn to self-soothe. Every time you have a challenging emotion, rather than dwell and reside in the emotion, you can choose to tune into the healing quality you need in that moment. The old and often unskillful pattern might be to define yourself by where you are at and stay stuck there. My guess is that’s likely not serving you.

So, you can learn to self-soothe by being curious and compassionate about a wise action or a kindful thought you can provide yourself. Everyone can think a friendly thought to themselves, even if they are angry or sad.

Remember to breathe – it’ll calm the brain and the body. Pause to allow yourself to respond and not react. Give yourself a hug; your brain can’t tell the difference between hugging yourself and someone hugging you. And remember to offer yourself compassion; say to yourself, “this is really hard right now,” and let that reminder let it be okay.

Hopefully you have found these tools to be helpful. I’d love to know which one most resonated with you. And if you need extra tools, click here to check out my meditations that are available to download. Or if you are struggling with parenting right now, click here to download my Patient Parenting course; it is a great way to build strong mindful parenting skills.

Remember, this too shall pass, and – you can take with you the best lessons from this experience!