If you’re feeling powerless and just a little helpless right now, join the crowd!  It’s a normal human response to a globally impacting, life-altering situation you have never before encountered.  Especially one that involves so much loss of life and so many unknowns.

The good news, however, is that just because you’re feeling powerless, it doesn’t mean you are.  You can shift from powerlessness to possibility.  Here is the simplest way to make such a monumental shift.

The Grand Canyon leap starts the moment you realize that focusing on what’s happening will only get you more frustrated and more stuck.  That’s because what you see creates your feelings, actions, and outcomes, including your way of being.  As you can see from the figure shown here, blaming your negativity on what’s happening means giving away the biggest power you have available to you: to choose the vantage point from which you will respond. 

Psychologists call this “framing.” It’s is a fancy way of saying that you can change the way you look at something.  After all, whatever you look for you will find.

Paul Dunn puts it another way.  He says:

“Only the view from where you sit will make you fear defeat –

Life is full of many aisles, why don’t you change your seat?”

His words are amusing, but you might appreciate a little help translating them to something a bit more concrete.  To this end, here are three possible frames you might consider as you search for a new “seat” from which to take in this COVID-19 crisis:

  1. Gratitude frame.  Rather than being worried about what is happening, every day look for one or two things to be appreciative of: “I’m so inspired by the way people of all backgrounds are coming together to try to make a difference.”  Or, “What are the gifts that seem to be coming from this?”
  2. Learning frame.  Instead of getting caught up with what isn’t happening, or what someone else should do, ask yourself: “What can I learn from what’s happening?”  Or, “How might this help me in the future?”
  3. Service frame.  When you get wrapped up in yourself, you just get more uptight and anxious.  However, the moment you find someone else to serve, your feelings, actions and outcomes turn on a dime.  Start with: “Who can I encourage today?”  Or, “What needs am I aware of and can help with?”

When you shift your attention from what’s wrong to what’s possible you will turn powerlessness into possibility, and frustration into fulfillment.  Even when the situation hasn’t changed, you will have. 

This article has been written by DeAnna Murphy – the founder and CEO of People Acuity and principal author of Shift Up! Strengths Strategies for Optimal Living and Choose to See You – in collaboration with co-thought leaders, Lisa Gregory and Steve Jeffs. It includes information about Interdependent Leadership, which starts with helping leaders lead themselves more effectively.  DeAnna is a Top 100 Global Coaching Leader who has provided keynotes and leadership development experiences in 32 countries.  For more information about how you can lead yourself (and others) out of powerlessness and into proactive possibilities, click here.