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5 Mental Pruning Strategies I Welcomed to Reimagine Purpose During the Pandemic

Unprecedented and uncertain—two words embedded in seemingly every article and social media post to fundamentally describe the weight of this moment in history. The COVID-19 pandemic has rattled every fiber of our existence on a global scale, to the point of the utmost diluted comprehension.

When coronavirus disease began to dominate news outlets and alter our way of living, I felt smothered by stratus clouds of confusion. The disorienting state of trying to cope with a pandemic that has drowned healthcare systems and shocked the economy caused emotional numbness to seize my mind. I didn’t know how or what I was supposed to be feeling.

As the coronavirus outbreak amplified, I faced emotional duality. I felt guilty and happy for experiencing times of laughter; selfish and grateful for enjoying added time with my wife at home. Meanwhile, my sense of purpose was compromised. Those who know me know my purpose is rooted in making a difference—in the community and within an organization. Once social distancing restrictions were put in place, I had no idea how to effectively help others. Having left my job to build a new career right before the outbreak, I found myself going in circles as business opportunities diminished. For me, coronavirus reclassified individual belonging and social inclusion to isolation and fragmented self-identity.

Photo Credit: Sharon McCutcheon of McCutcheon Photography

So, there I was…in the pandemic abyss, trying to make sense of the world and figure out how to regain my sense of purpose. Ultimately, I had a decision to make. The choice to either be swept away by uncontrollable factors, or to blossom using willpower and strength. And at that defining moment, the choice became clear. I choose me.

If you’ve read my story and can relate, then I hope you find value and comfort in understanding how I’ve been unearthing the ‘new me’ within our ever-changing ‘new normal.’ These are the mental pruning strategies I have welcomed to repair the foundation of my inner self and create a new platform for growth.

If you’ve read my story and can relate, then I hope you find value and comfort in understanding how I’ve been unearthing the ‘new me’ within our ever-changing ‘new normal.’ These are the mental pruning strategies I have welcomed to repair the foundation of my inner self and create a new platform for growth.

1. Seek to understand your story.

Everyone has a unique pandemic story, continuing to unfold in real-time. Imagine you as the protagonist and coronavirus as the antagonist. Practice self-reflection to understand how the antagonist has affected you, and you alone. Focus on yourself and your resilience strategy, while letting go of what you cannot control.

2. Perspective is everything.

Amy Gallo, contributing editor at Harvard Business Review, writes,

“…one of the most important things you can do right now is to be generous in your interpretations of other people.”

Photo Credit: Stergo of Pixabay

3. Reframe the way you understand social sensitivity.

Social sensitivity is the way we make sense of other people’s behaviors. It is a skill that helps us be socially respectful to others. Under social distancing restrictions, however, the dynamics of social sensitivity have shifted from in-person interactions to almost entirely virtual. The way we identify cues and contexts in social exchanges have undergone a complete makeover—a digital renovation. Be mindful of the changes in our surroundings.

4. Initiate small acts of kindness.

If you are like me and find purpose in helping others, approach your virtual interactions with this adjusted understanding of social sensitivity. Reach out to people within your network on a one-on-one level to find out how they are doing. Ask them to share their stories; be there to listen. Amy Blaschka, writer for Forbes says, “Small acts of kindness, done consistently over time, will not only improve your relationships and boost morale, but they also have the added benefit of being contagious in all the best ways, causing a beautiful ripple effect.”

5. Be a conduit of compassion.

On social media, I have observed an increase in online shaming and fear-based messaging. The uncertainty of our times is scary. Try redirecting your fear (and if you are comfortable) redirecting fear from others using compassion. Music artist, Pitbull, released a song about coronavirus titled, “I Believe That We Will Win.” The song is a message of hope about how we will rise above this time of crisis. Use this message of hope as a guide of grace for inner reflection and outward perception.

“You know what spreads faster than any virus? Fear. And when it comes to fear, you can either forget everything and run, or you can face everything and rise.”

Everyone has a story, an autobiography of the challenges and triumphs of COVID-19. What you see and what you read is what others choose to share. Make no mistake, there is more going on beneath the surface. Radiate compassion for others but remember to have compassion for yourself. Love and remind yourself that you are human and you will get through this. If you experience a moment of joy—a work promotion, a certification, a birthday—celebrate it without guilt. Help others in any way you can. As Jana Stanfield says, “I cannot do all the good that the world needs but the world needs all the good that I can do.” We will get through these unprecedented and uncertain times as change champions of each other.


Melanie Masessa

Proud CDP Graduate, Empathy Advocate, & Learning Nerd

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