You Are Doing So Much Right.
Acknowledging our resilience in and of itself can help us cope during tough times.
At Practice, we often teach skills around noticing and critically evaluating what we are thinking. Specifically, behind every big emotion is a series of thoughts– and many of these thoughts are inaccurate. If we can recognize distortions in our thinking, we can push back against distorted thoughts that are causing us distress… and then we are likely to feel better.
This is also of course true at the moment. Even (and probably especially!) in the midst of this global pandemic– and the subsequent shelter-in-place– we are all thinking lots of thoughts, many of which are making us feel worse. Our patterns of thinking may indeed be distorted in some way. We may be overestimating the likelihood that we or loved ones will catch COVID-19, or catastrophizing about the possible financial impact upon our families. We may be focusing on feared outcomes and overlooking other, more manageable ways in which things in the future might unfold.
But in this situation, many of the things that are stressing or upsetting us are indeed very real. Lots of people are getting sick. There are record numbers of people on unemployment. Families are under immense amounts of stress as parents navigate working from home with kids also at home. There is no clear roadmap about how we will transition out of the shelter-in-place– and it is becoming increasingly apparent that life as we have known it will be changed.
I still could encourage you to reality-test your thoughts about this pandemic. (For what it’s worth, if you did do this kind of reality-testing, you probably would find some places in which you could potentially shift your thinking.)
I could encourage you to try to find the silver lining (I’ve seen a lot of this kind of stuff, and I bet you have too!).
I’m not actually going to push either of those things. If those strategies are accessible to you even in the midst of all of this– great. And if they’re not, that’s completely understandable– and that’s OK too. This is hard. Everyone is suffering in some shape or form.
So I’m not going to discount that suffering, or the stress of having so many things outside of our control. What I AM going to do is remind you is that we are all immensely resilient… even in the midst of incredible stress. And I’m going to express confidence in your ability to cope with whatever this pandemic throws your way, worst case scenario or otherwise. I’m going to encourage you to pause to think about how much all of our lives have changed and been turned upside-down over the past eight weeks– and to take a moment– even if it is literally just one moment– to pat yourself on the back for the ways in which you’ve adapted to those changes, the ways in which you’ve stepped up to the plate. You are doing things that a few short months ago probably would have seemed completely impossible. It might not be pretty (and inevitably is imperfect!), but you are making it work. You are getting through. And no matter how things unfold from here– no matter what the summer looks like, no matter where things go in the fall– you’ll keep on adapting in more ways that will probably surprise you, because adapting and coping is just what we do.
Sending deep breaths, a pat on the back, and lots of warm wishes from my family to yours.