As we approach a year in semi-lockdown we’ve been filled with powerful emotions. Social niceties often allude us as we exchange suspicious looks with masked strangers. We don’t have to dig deep to touch upon anxiety or aggravation. They are neatly placed on the surface of our emotional reservoirs. Our tolerance level has been masterfully challenged. And at times our sustained tolerance is losing ground. Well-wishers tout positivity. I am all for optimism. Heck, I write my blog with self-care tips. But when we’re on the edge, as we often find ourselves in this pandemic, the last thing we want to hear is how lucky we are.
When I feel blue, I’m resistant to hearing that I should be grateful for what I have. And, if we’re being real, most of us have had blue periods in this time of Coronavirus. I’m not saying that gratitude isn’t important. I have an active daily practice of gratitude, and it’s been invaluable. But I do believe that we have to be where we are. When we force gratitude or self-care on ourselves or others, we negate the real experience in that moment. I know things are tough when I’m easily annoyed with little slights. Telling me to let it go, just adds to my exasperation. If we’re going to find hope or gratitude at all, we have to start with where we are. We can’t always make the leap to positivity because someone else is uncomfortable with our irascibility.
When we are able to acknowledge the hardships and upset that we’re experiencing, then we can move on from there. Each of us deals with this differently. Sometimes I can yell into a pillow, cry, and take a walk. And in doing those things I find myself in a lighter place. Other times it takes a good night’s sleep. Or I need to talk in therapy or to a friend. When I do, I have the wherewithal to be delighted by small kindnesses. Just this week strangers made room for narrow paths in the snow, and neighbors waited at the open door while I carried in my groceries. It was lovely. Their kindness allowed for an ease of gratitude. When I have the bandwidth, I, too, will do what I can to ease someone else’s load. And, when I don’t, I’ll do my best to have patience with myself, remembering that we’re living through a pandemic.
- Create a list of complaints. Sometimes we need to unload. Be a complainer, write down what bothers you. Give voice to your agitation. If it helps, tear it up, or cut it up, then throw it out with force.
- Growl, sigh, exhale loudly. Sounds give voice to our unheard feelings. (If you live with others, warn them first.)
- I delight in ______ (fill in the blank)
- See if there is a way to make room for whatever you filled in above. If not, see if there are any first steps you can take to have or do whatever you delight in.
- Stop what you’re doing. Pause. Ask yourself, “how am I doing?” It’s always good to check in with yourself. It’s good information to have even when you can’t take an action to address it.