In early 2020, the world was blind-sided when it was suddenly hit by a pandemic called Covid-19. Never in living memory had we encountered something like this. Our entire lives changed drastically and for the worse. Nobody could have imagined this lasting for long because it was so alien, so we waited for it to blow over quickly. It didn’t. Eventually it started getting better slowly, numbers across the world gradually dropped and although with some trepidation, we dared to exhale again. In South Africa, strict lockdown was eased and we started getting back to ‘normal’. We relaxed, started moving around and began to ease our adherence to precautions. Many attended large gatherings. And then, out of the blue, the virus reared its ugly head again and this time it was much worse. Many more illnesses, many more deaths. We are numb right now, shell shocked. Wracked with grief at the loss of loved ones, the loss of jobs and the loss of the lifestyles we once enjoyed.

When there is need for change in our lives, in our world, the universe whispers, then shouts, then eventually bashes us hard on the head. And this is perhaps the biggest lesson we need to take away from the wreckage of our lives. We just cannot go back to the way things were. We cannot because not only has the world changed irrevocably, but also we shouldn’t, because maybe the world just needed this change. Maybe the universe was telling us that we needed to stop living the way we were – our grossly unequal and damaged systems needed a massive overhaul. The greed, exploitation, mass appropriation of resources to benefit the few, the human destruction of the environment and the self serving pursuit of expediency at the expense of truth and integrity, all needed to be changed.  And for those of us who are too numb now to think about these theoretical constructs, we need to learn to be able to just dust ourselves off, to be able to rebuild our lives and learn to actually live again.

How? This is the question that most people are asking now and understandably so – because this is all so new to us. We have never had to heal and build on such a massive scale before. We have never lived through something like this before. There is no rulebook we can refer to or look to for guidance.

The first thing has to be acceptance. We cannot fight this by railing against it, against God and the universe. We have to accept that it is happening and there is a reason for it; and at the same time we have to realise that it is not all bad. History shows that it is in times of great upheaval that human beings have built all manner of wondrous things. It is in the rebuilding, the reflection from lessons learnt that new and better things are forged. Often through a sense of complacency we will never move towards demolishing that which no longer serves us, which hurts us, unless we are not pushed, indeed shoved off the proverbial cliff.

The next thing is to heal: we need to allow ourselves time and space to do this. We need to accept that we are aggrieved and bereft and not fight it. We need to acknowledge the loss and go through the process of grief, so we can reach the point of acceptance. Everyone has different ways of doing this. I personally, as so many others, take great comfort in my faith, the belief of a higher power, that the universe will find ways to heal us all and move us towards a better future if we allow it to, if we work with it and we learn from the lessons it is giving us. Then we need to reach out to others for help and support – family, friends, colleagues, professionals. As a life coach, I have already helped a large number of people navigate their lives through the chaos of the past year and to work successfully towards setting and achieving new goals.

And that’s the next step – rebuilding our lives. We are nowhere near the end of this and it might get worse before it gets better; but it will get better and then we’ll need to rebuild. Some of us are not as badly affected as others, but there is hardly a soul who has not been affected in some way or other, so we all have some work to do. For some, it is going to be much more challenging and it’s going to test our survival skills, our resilience, our flexibility and openness to other possibilities and new methods of dealing with life, irrespective of age. Because we are not going to ‘return to normal’. Not now or ever.

Are you up to it?

On a macro scale, we will also have to navigate a future that is better, kinder to everyone and more sustainable. We should all be holding hands and helping each other through this challenge. As a life coach, I find that my service and skills are needed more than ever. I will need to help my clients heal, to work out what their future and life will look like and help them rebuild it. I am immensely grateful to have the opportunity to do that.

We have a choice: get completely immersed in the tragedy of it all, be angry, fearful, consumed with negative emotion and remain stuck; or we can shake off the mantle of victimhood, take responsibility and rise up to the challenge that has been placed on all of us- to see this as an opportunity for much needed change.

What will you choose?

It’s a new year, time for new beginnings. Let’s make it count.