Is it normal to feel this way?

Is it normal to feel this way?

Over the past few weeks I’ve had a lot of coaching conversations. My clients have very little in common. They range from their 20’s to their 60’s. They are diverse in just about everything – how they identify their race and gender; what they do; their levels and the industries in which they work.  

And you know what? For as different as they all are, there are certain universal themes that are underlying all of our conversations. Every single one of them (us) is grappling with varying degrees of fear, grief and uncertainty. All of us, more than ever, are experiencing the inescapability of what it means to be human. We are more bound by the realization that none of us are exempt from the hard stuff.

Now take that universal experience and layer on your own unique life. This is where the complexity lies – each of you has a full, multifaceted, and sometimes complicated life. Here is a broad brushstroke of just a few of the factors that might be impacting what it feels like to be you right now:

  • Your physical and mental health

  • Your financial state

  • Your level of introversion/extraversion

  • Who you share your space with

  • Who is in your life and what they are facing 

  • What else is happening (or was supposed to be happening) 

  • Your values and belief system (how you make meaning)


All of that to say, each one of you is having an absolutely unique experience. Some are struggling with pain, isolation, depression, lack of motivation or feeling guilty for what you’re not doing. Some are optimistic about what might come of this. Some of you might welcome this chance to step back and reset. Others may not be feeling much at all. And for some, each day is different. You feel focused one day and foggy the next.  

And all of us are looking around and wondering if what we’re doing, thinking and feeling is more, less, or different from how others are handling things. We’re reading articles, scrolling through social media and talking to friends and family with the underlying question, “Is it normal to feel this way?”

Yes, it is.

With that in mind, I’d like to offer some questions for reflection about your unique experience, insights, and ability to use this experience to create something meaningful, as well as some resources I have found particularly helpful over the past few weeks…

3 Things to Receive:

  1. Read this amazing article from the NYT: “On Coronavirus Lockdown? Look for Meaning, Not Happiness”

  2. Listen to this episode of Brene Brown’s new podcast, Unlocking Us“David Kessler and Brené Brown on Grief and Finding Meaning” (If you haven’t read it yet, you can also find Kessler’s HBR interview here.)

  3. Listen to this soul-filling episode of On Being“David Steindl-Rast: How to Be Grateful in Every Moment (But Not for Everything)”


8 Things to Ask Yourself:

  • WIN – What’s important now? Amid stress, tiredness, and continuous interruptions, you may be finding yourself less focused and less productive. Pause and ask yourself what’s important – not tomorrow, not next week – but NOW.  

  • What are you noticing about your energy levels and patterns of the day/night? (e.g. happier when busy; can’t sleep; more worried during evenings; low energy mid-day)

  • What routines are helping provide a sense of normalcy/structure?

  • What works/doesn’t work?

  • What could you add or remove to increase your well-being?

  • What could you let yourself ‘off the hook’ for right now?

  • What is the advice that you find yourself giving to friends and family? (e.g. Be kind to yourself. Rest. Get some fresh air…) Why is this important? Because the assurances and advice we offer to others is what we most need to give ourselves. 

  • What small joys can you savor more? Cornell gerontologist Karl Pillemer says that elders across America who have lived through a Depression and a world war remind us to notice small things. “A morning cup of coffee, a warm bed on a winter night, a brightly colored bird feeding on the lawn, an unexpected letter from a friend, even a favorite song on the radio.” 

For most of us, our energy ebbs and flows. Each day, each hour and even each minute brings a new emotion. It has been bringing one of my favorite poems to mind – a reminder that our emotions are messengers that have something to show us, if we’re brave enough to listen:

The Guesthouse

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
As an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.
Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.


If you need resources or support of any kind, don’t hesitate to reach out to me at

Starla Sireno is an NYC Executive Coach. She partners with leaders to more effectively navigate the complexities of their roles, increase their influence at all levels, and hone their interpersonal communication skills in order to become more impactful both internally and in client-facing roles. Inquire how you can work with Starla or her team.

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