Dr. Shefali helps Parents Navigate Life Changes due to Coronavirus

Dr. Shefali helps Parents Navigate Life Changes due to Coronavirus


Renee Jain, chief storyteller at GoZen, bringing you my friend, my colleague, my mentor, my spiritual sister. Her name is Dr. Shefali Tsabary. And I sent her a message this morning. I texted her and I said,
listen, I had this thought. I’m not gonna lie, I was in the shower. I just thought to myself, I really, really want to talk to Dr. Shefali because she is a master at
breaking down resistance, and based on what’s going
on with the pandemic, with the coronavirus, with lives changing, we are all in a state
of resisting the change. So let’s talk to clinical psychologist, bestselling author, and
awesome lady, Dr. Shefali. Hi.
– Hi, how are you? – I’m okay. So, radical changes are afoot everywhere. I am experiencing them myself. You might even hear my
kids around somewhere. My kids’ school is closing tomorrow to decide whether to close further. That’s what the closing
is about, literally. So, I have found myself and
many parents in our community resisting, feeling upset at the change, at the changes, of course. Feeling anxious and fearful,
but today I wanna talk about I don’t want it to be this
way, so I’m gonna fight it. And I know you are a master at accepting. So what do we do? Help us. – Well what we’re seeing right
now is just an exaggerated, concentrated form of what life always is. We just don’t see it
scrolling through our newsfeed the way we’re doing it now. So for example, every
two seconds cars collide. One just did just now. Did you get it on your feed? Oh you didn’t, okay, great. But if there was a new coronavirus case you’d get it on your feed right now. So things are happening
all the time in life that breed uncertainty, breed
panic, breed pain and fear. This is the irrefutable nature of life. It’s uncertain. We’re never certain about the future. Change is always imminent. But because for the
most part we are secure in our little bubbles of our lives, we think we’re immune to
life’s unpredictability. And this coronavirus is just slamming us with unpredictability, unpredictability and we can’t adapt because
unlike our ancestors who adapted all the time,
every single day to transients and impermanence, elements of the weather, cold, hot, mosquitoes, snakebites, berries today and meat tomorrow,
no meat for three weeks. They constantly adapted. We have become so stagnant
in our capacity to adapt. But what a wonderful opportunity to adapt. This is life. Life is eternally transient, impermanent, constantly changing, and uncertain. Now we’re getting a heavy dose of it. So I look at this as an opportunity to elevate our consciousness, like I look at everything
in life as an opportunity. Now some people will say,
oh, but this is different. We could die. And I’m like, yeah I could
have died yesterday 10 times. I just probably missed death by a second. It’s this illusion that this
is not happening anyway. Sure, this is unique. This is a new thing. It’s just a new phase of
life’s unpredictability. – Okay, so I hear that and I feel that and I understand that, and I’m also facing okay,
now I can’t go to the office. My kids are home and I
understand that this is maybe an opportunity to
connect more with them, but I also feel like we’re gonna be in the house all the time. I’m gonna be struggling. And I’m okay with unpredictable
as log as it’s finite because the messaging
that we are hearing is well we don’t know when
and we’re not really sure. And this could go on for two weeks or maybe a month or maybe more. I’m not sure I can stay
in that agile state where I’m moving around and adapting for that period of time.
– First, here’s the grownup
truth, we have no choice. So we can kick and scream like toddlers and tantrum and get upset
and waste our energy or channel our energy into resources, into connection, into
helping people, into service. We couldn’t have been living
in a better time in history in terms of material abundance
and a plethora of resources. People are complaining that
toilet paper has run out as if water is out of style. We are also kind of just
exaggerated in our anxiety. There’s no reason right now to panic. So we’re looking into
the future constantly. And say this last for three years. Okay, we are gonna find a way to adapt, because we are adaptable. And sure, some of us may die. This is life. So instead of looking into the future, like you’re just doing,
you’re like what is this, I need a finite expiration date. Well life doesn’t have things like that so we have to grow up and accept this was always a possibility,
now it is a possibility, and now we have to live
in this and tolerate. It’s really difficult to
tolerate, I agree with you. We want to know. We want the finite end date,
the start date, the plan. We wanna check things off. But we have no choice right now. Right now we’re not in that comfort zone. So we have to now also learn to live out of the comfort zone. We have to grow up. It’s time to grow up and
stop kicking and screaming and take hold of our minds. Our minds are running
rampant into the future. That’s why we have anxiety. Anxiety is always about something that could happen in the future. We have to take charge of it,
recognize that it’s anxiety, recognize it’s future based,
and all I can tell you is we have to own and claim our own thoughts back into our hands and shift the gear into the present moment. Well, am I dying right now? Has anything happened right now? Do I have enough food right now? And most importantly, stop
thinking about yourself and ask how can I be of service? This is when we need to rise to service and help the infirm, the
elderly, people who need us. We need to donate money. Right now our coffers are not yet empty, so why are we acting like that? Because we all inherently come from lack. We’re always living in lack. Now this has shown us, whoa, we’re really living in a lot of lack. Y2K, same kind of flurry of–
– Oh my goodness, Y2K. I forgot about Y2K. – Y2K, remember Y2K? And then I was.
– The world was going to end. – Right and then you were in New York during Hurricane Irene. – Sandy.
– Sandy. – Sandy, yeah. – I mean that was insanity. People were getting nervous and there were fights at the gas station. This is not a unique phenomenon
in terms of our anxiety. We don’t need much of an
excuse to get anxious, because we are already
in the age of anxiety. We are already suffering from anxiety. So this is not necessarily a reflection of the virus, per se, but of the inner virus of anxiety. This is what’s getting inflamed. Something that’s already been there. We’re acting as if we’re only reacting like this to this virus. No, we react like this anytime we are in threat of the unknown. Humans don’t do well. This current era of human
doesn’t do well with the unknown. – With the unknown.
– We want to know. – And the radical change. So I wanna ask you this. There are, I’ll bring you back to your psychological training where there are the stages of grief. When something changes,
when there is a death. So let’s just assume this
is the death of the lives that we were leading up until this point. Do you think that we have
to go through stages? Do we have to be angry? Do we have to be sad? Before we come into acceptance? Because just being, just so you guys know, Dr. Shefali and I are friends, and so I have seen changes in her life, and I have seen like no other this woman come into acceptance. So how do we do that? Is there a fast track
for accepting change? – Yes, so that first step, so I like Elisabeth Kubler-Ross’s model
of D.A.B.D.A, D-A-B-D-A. So the first step is denial. And this is the problem,
we’re in denial that reality is always foretelling death
or some sort of change, death of the old self,
death of the old yesterday, death of the time two hours ago. Death is always happening. Change is eminent. Transformation is always possible. But we’re in resistance to
it because we are in denial. And this is what happens
when we really die or when someone really dies. Then we are in denial. So the fast track is to
take this moment in time, this coronavirus, as an invitation to elevate our consciousness
about what is life? What is the nature of life? And then realize, oh, this
is the nature of life. So what am I fighting? Why am I resisting the inevitable? We always tell our toddlers, for example, don’t fight if, don’t be
upset, don’t cry it’s raining. It’s just rain. This is how nature is. Now we’re crying because
we are all getting muddled because of the coronavirus. Well, we’re like toddlers. Unable to accept that change is here. The world has changed. Now we’re in the new
tomorrow, in the new today. So how can we accept this
instead of fighting it? We will waste so much energy
fighting rather than accepting the inevitable reality of life. Right now, this is all
high-falutin, I understand. But life is to be lived with an attitude. This is an attitude toward life, and when you have the
right attitude toward life then things flow much more easily rather than if you’re
just reacting to life. So when I see coronavirus
in my present day reality. I immediately realize, okay, galvanize your attitude,
the right attitude. I don’t let the virus
take over my inner scape. I don’t just react to everything
coming across my feed. I realize that the pedestrian human mind is a reactive mind, is a
toddler tantruming mind. So I very carefully discern whether I’m going to react to the news or not. Actually I’ve turned off all the news now. I got it, wash your hands,
stay away from a lot of people, and just try to take precautions
of hygiene and distance. Got it. How much more do I need to get? I could still get the virus. And then I will deal with it then. I could still get cancer tomorrow. I’ll deal with it then. So in the now is where we need to live, and we need to live with
caution and discernment but not paranoia and phobia. There’s a big difference
between living with discernment, like you do when you drive
your car, you discern, versus are you always scared
when you get in your car? And if not, technically
you may need to be, because there are accidents
happening all the time. But we don’t get into a fear
of traffic jams and accidents because we’ve become accustomed to it. You see, the coronavirus
is scary right now because we don’t know,
it’s unknown, it’s new. It has a new phase. So with time I believe we
will gather our senses, we will take claim of our
thoughts, of our minds, and enter calm and relaxation. Right now we’re just knee jerk reacting. We’re just like toddlers
looking at the rain and having a toddler tantrum. Soon I do believe things will calm down. I wish it would just calm down right now. It would be lovely. And people not buy toilet
paper and just use water, like people used to do back in the past, and leave the resources for the elderly. So it’s new, that’s why we’re scared. It’s natural. This is the human mind. But we have to understand,
this is an opportunity to grow. Don’t just react the way
everyone else reacts. Don’t just respond in fear just because everyone around you is in fear. You can make a different choice
about your present moment. – Are there any practices
that you suggest for people who want to stay grounded? Do you have any yourself that are your favorites?
– Well, it’s really about looking around me in the present moment and asking, well what is in my now? Is my now okay enough? Can I be grateful for the now? And do I have enough right now? Even before coronavirus we didn’t know when we were gonna get cancer. Even before coronavirus we didn’t know if we would live two more days. Even before coronavirus we didn’t know if there would be a tsunami
and we’d be under water. So, the coronavirus is a
wonderful slap in the face, a wake-up call to make us realize that we always lived with uncertainty. So now is the time to galvanize
our sense of abundance and not panic at just this
new phase of uncertainty. This is just a new phase of uncertainty. But uncertainty has always
been part of our lives. This is nothing new necessarily. So the panic is only a
part of the mass hysteria. And as individuals who
wish to grow and elevate we need to make a decision
not to join the mass hysteria. So that’s my daily practice. I don’t open my social feed much. I don’t react to the news. I don’t pay attention to every case because all this is designed to alarm us. Just like I don’t want to know if there was a traffic accident right
now in Queens, New York. Right now I don’t wanna know
what happened in Nebraska. Right now I don’t want to know
what happened in Thailand. In the same way I don’t need to know about every new case breaking out. It’ll just cause alarm. It is not meant and designed for calm. So why would I go toward that? It doesn’t help me in any way. – So you don’t feel
like doing those things makes you feel more prepared. So there are a lot of parents saying, well I just wanna be prepared. I wanna know.
– How much more can you prepare? How much more? So you wash your hands 1500 times. Please do wash your hands. But it could still happen. So do it, do it. I’m talking about the doing here. There’s a lot we can do in real life. We can wipe down seats, we can not go on planes, have a party. Don’t do all that stuff. But what’s more important
is how we manage it up here. What is our attitude to this? And the attitude is to get out of denial that this is something new. This is just life presenting
another phase of uncertainty. And it’s going to test us, test our capacity to live in the present. And what a wonderful opportunity. For me it’s a daily spiritual practice now to see if I can live in flow, if I can live in abundance, even though there appears to be a threat. We have so much power within us to transcend the patterns of our mind. And people don’t realize that
what’s happening right now in social media, this mass
hysteria, is a pattern. And it’s a mass pattern and it feels real. Again, because it’s a new face of anxiety, but really, beneath the
surface it’s all the same drama happening at every Thanksgiving, at every, in every divorce law case, in every outbreak of a cancer case. It’s the same anxiety because
we all want to be immortal. But the fact is, no one is so special, and we all are just human animals, and we have an expiration date, and it’s about accepting that. And if it happens to us, it happens. No one is more special than the other, and there’s great democracy
in terms of our mortality. Everyone will die at some point. And to accept this with humor. I know some people
don’t like to hear this, it feels morbid. For me it’s joyful to
understand my mortality, and when things like this happen I’m confronted with my mortality. I don’t get depressed by it, you see, because I’m not in denial of it. I celebrate my life because
I know I’m gonna die one day. – So I think that there will
be people who are listening who will agree with you, but then will say, however,
I have younger children. And I’m okay, I’m at peace
with what happens to me, but then what about them? And then they sit in that worry. They sit in that worry. – Yeah, and I say to them no one, when we had children
what were we thinking? That they would be immortal? I’m sorry to talk so straight, but I want people to snap out of the toddler level of consciousness. Not that toddlers are, the poor toddler, I’m after him or her today. But just at a lower level of consciousness where we had resistance, like you said, and we need to understand like grownups what life is about. Life is about our mortality. Life is about our transience. And unless we truly accept this, any ebb and flow of life
will throw us into a tizzy. Life is full of ebbs and flows. Marriages end, friendships end, youth ends, beauty ends, physicality ends. We are always dying. So, this is part of life. It happens to young
children or old children. Time and age has nothing
to do with nature’s way. So accepting this about
life brings serenity. Surrendering to the fact that we don’t have control
at the end of the day, to me, brings me the greatest liberation. I don’t want to have
control more than I can. So there’s a limit to our control, and this coronavirus is
showing us we are limited, and that scares us. We want to be limitless in control. That’s an illusion. We want to be immortal. Illusion. We want to be more powerful than life. Illusion. So now we are getting to confront that we are to be humble,
we’re to be grateful, and we cannot be
grandiose in our ideation. We need to come back to
what reality truly is and reality is transient. You don’t like it about
reality, check out of reality, that’s all I can say. This is reality. It’s the brutal truth of reality. I say it to my child. She’s like I’m really scared. I’m like, okay, I don’t
have anything else to say except okay, I get it, I understand. This is life. I can’t tell her not to be scared. It’s a normal response to life. I can’t tell her life will change for you because you’re scared. This is life and I
understand people are scared. But we have to, there’s one
thing to be cautious, as I said, and then there’s another thing to live in paranoia and phobia. – Well we are humbled and
grateful for your time today. Thank you so much. – Thank you, and I know it’s hard. It’s so hard, isn’t it? It’s hard for people. – It is really hard, but
this is really helpful. It really is. I think even if I have to–
– But Renee, what about, what about if somebody
comes to you and says, but you know what, I lost my job. That’s when it gets really hard. – Yeah it gets really hard–
– The economics of it. – There’s a ripple effect. I have to go to work. Well I can’t go to work because
my kids can’t go to school and then the employer of that person says, well, I feel really bad
but I need you to come in because we’re a service business, or if there’s a restaurant that’s open or a gas station that you have to be here. Well, I can’t be there. And okay well you’re gonna lose your job. Or heaven forbid someone gets sick and then, sorry, but
they don’t, at this time, especially in the U.S.,
don’t get sick pay. It’s, yeah, it gets very difficult when it gets very real like that.
– But this is, this is where we need to
realize the power of community. We are all going to go, like my several talks have gone. So that income’s come. Different things have happened to you. Other people have lost their job. So people are genuinely nervous on that very physical survival level, and this is where we need
to step in as a community and help each other and
give things for free or do more service or donate
or call people into our homes. This is when we can rise as one. But our paranoia and phobia
is keeping us away from people because of this unique virus. But we can still offer
support in all sorts of ways. That’s why you wanted to do this. You wanted to offer
emotional support to people. And people can use you and me for that and use other people for
other kinds of support. But this is when we can lean on each other and come together as a community. – That’s beautiful, thank you. Yeah, thank you, thank you.

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