By Judith E. Lipson, M.A., LPC
This pandemic is getting so difficult for so many! This is really not surprising! It’s been nearly 6 months since many began their sheltering-in-place practices. When the weather got nice, and school was over for “summer vacation”, there was an especially acute longing to get back to life – as we knew it. After all, summer is that glorious time when we travel with our families, by ourselves, or with special friends to escape the harried life of work and home responsibilities. Summer has become equivalent for many of us as the time for escape. But instead of getting the green light to take our escape, we were met with resistance. Some saw the resistance coming from the CDC, or their governmental leaders, while some recognized that this is a result of the impact of the novel coronavirus. Regardless, many see this as a time when one’s desires are being thwarted. And we don’t like that!!
In all my years of talking to people I’ve realized that one’s ability to shift and adapt varies. Actually, I will rephrase that to say one’s willingness to shift and adapt varies! One way to improve your adaptability is through equanimity. I’ve written about it previously, but I want to discuss it again in the context of COVID-19, and all that it is revealing to us socially, politically, environmentally, financially, educationally, medically, etc, etc.
I’d like to invite you to take a few introspective moments and look at “being uncomfortable”. This is not about justification that you have a right to your thought or feeling. We’re going deeper than that. Do you even have an awareness of the discomforting thought, feeling, or action? Or have you been so intent on avoiding the discomfort that you hadn’t even sat with it long enough to recognize it occurring? Identify what drives you, what troubles you, what ultimately makes you uncomfortable. In other words, what have you been avoiding or running from?
- Thoughts: i.e., “I don’t want there to be a pandemic.” “There really isn’t anything to be afraid of or react to.” “People aren’t going to tell me what I can or can’t do.” “I deserve this …… (vacation, experience, etc).” Those are only some of the possible thoughts that may have led to your discomfort. What are yours?
- Feelings: Anger and fear are the main emotions that people discuss. But I encourage you to go deeper. Is there frustration? Grief? Loneliness? Anxiety? Worry? Sadness? A sense of betrayal or injustice? Disappointment? Agitation? Feeling misunderstood? What feeling(s) are you experiencing? And have you been running from them?
- Actions: For some people, this is the easiest route to then access the rest. What action have you been taking that has provided you the opportunity to not have to feel the uncomfortable emotion, or think the uncomfortable thought, that you identified above? For instance, these are two extreme positions, but do you go into public with no consideration of the CDC recommendations? Do you stay home in your bubble when it is not medically required? What actions might you be taking that provide you an escape to avoid feeling the uncomfortable emotions or thoughts?
Now I would like to invite you to look at all of this a bit differently. [Read more…]