The coronavirus pandemic has brought humanity to the brink of a mental health crisis, what with millions of people losing their jobs, worrying about their health, and fearing for the safety of their loved ones. At a time of great uncertainty, people look to thought leaders for inspiration and guidance.
What makes someone a thought leader? In the podcast Speaking Your Brand, host Carol Cox describes thought leaders as having a unique perspective; being bold, direct, real, and vulnerable; having a universalized, relatable personal story; and having a message that is carried through in mediums where others can be involved.
As we weather through difficulties brought by the world’s changing tides, thought leaders can guide us in realigning with our true selves, releasing our anxieties, staying strong, and keeping calm amid the chaos of current events.
I would like to share my favorite lessons from today’s leading thought leaders that have helped me most in staying grounded in these trying times.
Gabby Bernstein: The Choose Again Method
Who doesn’t know Gabby Bernstein? A #1 New York Times Bestselling Author, motivational speaker, and life coach, Bernstein was one of the pioneers of the modern personal development movement. She was branded by Oprah herself as a “next-generation thought leader”.
Like many of her kind with a great story to tell, Gabby channeled her difficult experiences into her mission of helping people connect with their spirit. Before beginning her career as a coach, she worked as a public relations consultant and club promoter in New York, getting into the partying lifestyle and falling rock bottom into unhappiness and addiction.
Her book Super Attractor details the Choose Again Method, which has proven to be very helpful in relieving anxiety, especially during these times.
First, she calls us to notice the fearful thought: basically, accepting and honoring that we have thoughts that cause us to feel tense and uneasy. Next, she tells us to forgive the thought, by being compassionate with ourselves for catastrophizing and assuming the worst.
Lastly, she asks us to proactively choose better thoughts and feelings; that is, taking the current thoughts that we have, e.g. “I’m going to get sick with COVID-19”, and reframing it into something more positive, e.g., “I’m alive, healthy, and well, and I’m keeping myself safe.” This method is a good way to ground yourself when you are burdened with anxious thoughts.
Brene Brown: Overcoming Comparative Suffering
Brene Brown wears many hats: she’s professor of social work, author, podcast host, and public speaker. She rose to fame for her TED Talk, “The Power of Vulnerability”, and one of her lectures, The Call to Courage, was filmed and launched on Netflix in 2019. She’s also the host of the podcast Unlocking Us.
What I love most about Brown is her approach as a thought leader; her stories are relatable as they go deep into the topics of shame, vulnerability, and empathy. She’s also very authentic and direct and makes her audience laugh with her self-deprecating humor.
In the context of the pandemic, Brown cautions us against comparing ourselves with people who might have it so much worse. Doing this doesn’t make our suffering any better; in fact, it only makes us feel bad because it stops us from expressing us how we feel, and making us feel alone in the process. She says, “The refugee in Syria doesn’t benefit more if you conserve your kindness only for her and withhold it from your neighbor who’s going through a divorce.”
This tells us that putting your own struggles into perspective and expressing how you feel should not be mutually exclusive; our individual feelings are valid, and we have every right to be hurt, or scared, no matter how bad our surrounding circumstances are.
Leisse Wilcox: Channeling the Feminine
Leisse Wilcox is becoming one of the most powerful voices out there in the field of mental health and spirituality, and is proving to be a thought leader in her own right. A survivor of childhood trauma, breast cancer, grief, and divorce, Wilcox has a profound understanding of what it means to endure, overcome, and create something wonderful out of pain.
Today, as a Transformative Mindset + Success Coach, she “[helps] high-potential women courageously become the version of themselves they just can’t stop dreaming about”. She recently launched her first book, To Call Myself Beloved, which rose to #1 in Amazon’s Hot New Releases for Self Esteem as well as Mental and Spiritual health categories. Her podcast of the same name also ranks among the top 50 self-improvement podcasts in five countries.
As we all struggle to get through and try to make the best out of this difficult year, Wilcox points out that we all live in a system where the most important thing is to do and achieve, which is a very masculine kind of energy.
Now that the world is in flux, she calls on us to make the daring move to channel the feminine; to be receptive, slow down, and get curious about what is happening around us. In this way, we are able to turn inward, listen to ourselves and what we actually need, and figure out what we need to do next.