Many people might agree that 2020 hasn’t been a great year, so far. We’re more than halfway through it and things just don’t seem to be letting up. There’s an increasing sense of hopelessness, and a sense of dread that leads us to ask–will our lives be ruined forever? Leisse Wilcox, a Transformational Mindset + Success Coach, begs to disagree.

Leisse shares her wisdom on how we can make things right even when everything seems to be going wrong, by simply using the power of our own minds.

In your practice, you’ve always emphasized the importance of identifying what you’re feeling as an important step towards healing. Needless to say, this year has brought on a motherlode of emotions for all of us. Could you help us put a name to what these feelings are?

There’s a lot of fear on the surface, but deep down, what we’re feeling right now is grief. We’re experiencing emotional trauma, and the reaction to that is grief. We’re mourning the loss of the lives we once had; of the illusion that we had total control over our own lives. The pandemic has woken us up and made us realize that anything could happen at any time.

We’ve lost touch with the familiarity that once made us feel safe, and now we’re faced with the unknown. Our brain hates not knowing what’s going to happen. This is what causes us a lot of anxiety.

But we can’t be dominated by these feelings. We have to realize that no matter what happens around us, we still have control over what happens in our inner environment. We have the agency to decide how we, as individuals, will respond to this crisis.

Just when we thought the pandemic was letting up, sociopolitical crises like systemic racism and political violence have been putting an even greater strain on our mental health. What can we do when our emotions get too intense?

Whenever things start to become overwhelming, try to zoom out, and see the forest for the trees. Think about the direction in which these crises are taking us. Things are changing, yes, but consider as well how they could be changing for the better. Get curious about the direction this is going to take us in. This is fleeting. This will end. Something good can come out of it. Don’t focus on the fear; focus on the great possibilities ahead of us.

Also, gratitude never gets old. Take stock of all the good things you still have in life. Feel grateful that you are healthy, that you have a home, that you are safe, that you still have food on the table, that you can wake up to a new day, and that maybe, you now have time to work on the things you’ve been putting off before this crisis happened. Don’t lose sight of the little things. No matter what happens, you still have a lot to appreciate.

If feeling grateful doesn’t seem possible, then that might mean that you need to determine what you’re afraid of. Ask yourself, what is the story that you’re telling yourself? Then, ask yourself if that story is true. If you figure that it isn’t, then why does it feel true? And then, how do you shift the story that you’re telling yourself? This is a good grounding technique for whenever you’re overcome with anxiety.

How did the pandemic derail your own plans for this year?

I told myself that this was the year I was going to focus on public speaking. Well, you can already guess what happened. Events got canceled here and there. At first, I thought to myself, “why is it that every time something good happens in my career, something unfortunate pulls me back?” First there was childhood trauma, divorce, and then I got breast cancer.

I began to ask myself, “Have I lost my chance at success?” Absolutely not! Those unfortunate incidents in my life led me to greater opportunities in my personal and professional lives, because it forced me to pull lessons and learning out of each experience, and really make them my own. That has developed into a thriving coaching practice, speaking engagements (including TedX), writing my first book (available August 2020), a five star, top ranked podcast, “To Call Myself Beloved,” and the opportunity to share my story, healing, and education with my community…and my little family, too.

I made a promise to myself to let go, allow surrender, and go with the flow. It might sound funny now in the context of a pandemic, and 2020 has been a great testament to the power of choosing to have hope, and relentless optimism.

What advice do you have for people who are struggling with uncertainty amidst these times?

Something I like to do to inspire myself is to study biographies of successful people; understanding someone who started out with a few dollars in their pocket could establish a successful career, for example, as an actor, musician, or entrepreneur. Many people who’ve “made it” to icon status have hit rock bottom at some point, but they made the choice to not let their failures and circumstances stop them. It’s all part of the hero’s journey.
Looking at your own story, how are you going to use your experience of this crisis for yourself? If you look at others’ success stories, you’ll see that it’s never linear, and it’s impossible to predict how it’s going to work out. This is not the end, it’s a chapter. Life has a way of working out, and it’s easier to see that when you allow yourself to really feel your feelings, and take insured action to heal forward.