In the past few year, we have seen SARS, Ebola, AIDS, and all sorts of diseases ravage this new world, but we have never seen anything as widespread and as horrible as Covid-19. It has caused tens of thousands of deaths in some countries, sick people left in hospital corridors unattended , bodies piling up in mass graves, borders closed to incoming visitors. Some industries like tourism, hospitality and retail have had zero income for months and months, causing joblessness to climb day by day. It has caused countries to be locked down, scrambling for cover.
And then there is you, the business leader or owner , with a massive challenge in front of you.
You have a business that is at a standstill, and a small team of wonderful people looking to you day by day. Your business is not earning anything but you have these people to pay. So in the middle of all of this chaos, you decide on a few options to try and save the business. All of them came back to the fact that you can’t afford to pay your team so you have to let some or all of them go. Redundancy. You can be clinical in dealing with all of this but you can’t deny the fact that this will cause you emotional turmoil. Especially if some of those you are letting go are your good friends.
What is it that you are feeling right now as you see the names of the good people you have to let go on your list? While in the process of saving the business you might feel an inexplicable numbness that will help you go through it all without breaking down. After that phase, you might feel angry or fearful for the future. You might feel extremely guilty knowing that these people will have no way of paying their bills, or putting food on their table. But notice that all of these emotions will lead you to feel pain. Letting the people who have been like family, go, is a loss similar to death. When you lose someone, you will grieve. So you will feel pain.
This is normal. It is not easy, but it is normal. You will go through the stages of grief: denial, anger,bargaining,depression and acceptance. The process might not be linear, and you might swing from denial and anger and bargaining on one day and back again the next day. You will feel pain in every stage, and the pain can physically manifest in some parts of your body. That is normal. The challenge now is not to get stuck in any of the first 4 stages, with depression the most dangerous stage to get stuck in. So what can you do to reduce the pain and the length of your grieving?
Here are a few things you can do to hack your brain:
Release your emotions- Allow yourself to feel. If you feel like crying, do so. If you feel like you want to release your energy, find a safe option like running or biking or any hard exercise can release your pent up emotion. It is like allowing the air in a balloon to fizz out in a slow calm manner. Allowing the balloon to take more and more air in will cause it to burst. Let all the energy out. It is OK to feel and release.
The last thing you want to do, is to use numbing agents like drugs or alcohol as a way though this stage. You can not think straight with these agents, and you need all your facilities to get through this stage of your life.
Identify your feelings. Write them all down one by one. Identifying them one by one gives you a stepping stone to get out of the swamp one step at a time. Are you angry, guilty, sad all at the same time? Identifying is the first step to untangling your confused brain. Allowing yourself to feel all of them at once is like staying in the deep waters with no where to go. Do it one by one by one. Slowly. Step by step.
Identify the thought behind the feeling. Write them down too. Why are you thinking as you are, where is all of that coming from. The emotions you are displaying is a result of the thoughts you have in your mind. Do you feel angry that you have to close your business? Or is it more fear? Why are you angry? Is it because you think you are powerless or not in control? Is it because you are afraid that the people you are letting go will hate you or stop being your friend? Are you afraid to lose their love and respect? Write every single scenario you can think of.
Identify your beliefs. Being aware about your beliefs regarding business, people, relationships, money can help you to understand why you are feeling what you are feeling right now, and help shorten the grief cycle. A belief that money is evil, and believing that being a business owner has driven a wedge between you and the friend you just let go will compound your grief. You will beat yourself up for being in the game. But the belief that money is a neutral thing that can be used for good or evil, and that you being the business owner are lucky to have had the chance to give people a source of livelihood, will help you want to get up and do it all over again because you want to do good, you want to help. And this event right now is just temporary. This crisis might even have taught you a few tricks to apply in your future business.
Step outside of your situation and assess it objectively. Being in the experience can be too overwhelming if you can not come out and get that gasp of air. Seeing the situation as an observer will allow you a different perspective. That space will allow you to think clearly. An observer will see the situation without emotion, so you see it with a clearer head.
Find a Kindred Spirit. For some people, processing all of these on their own is too heavy to carry. It will take a toll on their emotion and health. Give yourself permission to share this part of your life. Talk to someone- maybe a friend, mentor or coach, who understands why you are doing what you are doing. The people who understand where you are coming from will give you moral support and will calm your mind, ease the pain. Be aware though, that there will be those who will condemn you for wanting to save the business or save your family home that you have used as collateral to the business. They are those who can not see things from your point of view. Talking to someone who does not understand or refuses to understand where you are in your life right now, or even someone who has a different set of values as you, will only cause more pain and turmoil to your already grieving soul. Not all of your friends or family will be so understanding. Choose the person to talk to.
Accept your situation and move on. I understand that this may sound too casual to you to just accept and move on. However, this is the last stage of your life cycle. If you want to be able to live a fruitful life, know that life comes with its own seasons. Your pain right now is part of your winter. The next part will be spring, where new life starts to bloom from the once cold earth. The soil will start to thaw and expect summer to follow. If you keep this in mind, you will know to expect good things in the future.
Some countries are now on the tail end of one of the most destructive pandemic the world has ever seen. Some businesses are starting to come back to life. It is now the spring of their lives. Economies are opening up slowly, day by day, and people are rejoicing.So will it be for you. One day you will wake up and see it has passed.
Call to Action: Find a Kindred Spirit, a mentor or a coach to help you through this process. A coach can help you identify the beliefs and values you hold to make you understand your journey a bit easier to travel on. Find someone who can teach you how you can become your own coach and re-build anything you set your mind on. Get in touch with us for your free 30 minute initial coaching consultation. DARE to reset your life.