You may be home with kids. You may be working an essential job. Like me, you may be sheltering in place in your apartment, alone. There may be chaos all around you. There may be silence all around you. Things have taken a significant turn for each and every one of us.
A pandemic, at this level, is something none of us have lived through. As the reality of our situation sets in, we are all reorienting our minds, our routines, and our priorities. It is important to remember that we need to give ourselves time and grace.
In America, we have a profound addiction to positivity and good times. Feeling good is acceptable, feeling anything else is not encouraged and often not tolerated. Over the last 50 years or so, we have embarked on a feel-good at all cost journey. Denying our negative emotions and never learning how to fully process our feelings of sadness, fear, pain, disappointment, and grief.
We have filled our day to day lives with so many goals, obligations, and events that we never stop moving. Our minds are full of dates, tasks, and plans. We move all the time. And all of that movement makes it hard to take in our lives. To reflect on how we are doing emotionally and spiritually. I have noticed over the years how anxious people get when they have a slow down imposed on them maybe by an illness or a snowstorm.
So I hope you will take a week (or a weekend, but really a week is better) and start the shelter at home with an energetic reset. Don’t master the homeschool thing, stop striving for the cleanest house, or attracting a bunch of new clients. We are all overwhelmed, take a breath.
Shut the noise off for a big swath of the day and connect with yourself and your feelings, connect with your family and their feelings. Make room for your hearts and your stress and remember that this too shall pass, as nothing is permanent. Not our joyous triumph, nor our stinging defeats.
We are, in fact, all in this together. Our personal losses and disappointments can and should be acknowledged, while also remembering that we are all suffering losses right now. How can we nourish each other? How can we soothe the discomfort?
We can start by acknowledging them and making room for our own feelings of loss, pain, anxiety, and fear as well as those of our friends and family. We can make room in the day for just sitting in our feelings and allowing them to pass through us. Knowing that acknowledging them won’t bring us down, we won’t drown. They will have their moment and clear our cluttered minds and hearts so we can face the next task with grace and strength.
And the real truth is our lives are most fulfilling when we fully experience our feelings–all of them. People who have lived through something profound like war, know they do not want to relive it, and they also grieve and miss it when it is over. Because it is when we are so close to the edge that we truly feel alive. Struggle is what allows us to truly know ourselves.
The good, the bad, the ridiculous, and the tragic make a life. When we can strengthen our faith, we strengthen our resilience. And then like Helen Keller said, the shattered world emerges into light.
We can do hard things.