We never have life figured out but there are times that we feel that we have. It’s generally when life is going smoothly and it feels less arduous. These are not those times. And we really don’t enjoy the feelings that we are having these days and so we look to fix it. We look to offload it. We look to find someone to blame.
We’ve all done it. We will all do it again. Anymore I am learning it’s less about whether or not you lose your focus, lose your center and more about when. And then the question, or the critical skill, is how quickly do I realize it and come back to center, come back to emotional sobriety.
While out on a walk I had a lot of time to listen to some podcasts, to ponder, to pause what I was listening to and let the words sink in. I think that’s why I like to be out on long distances alone sometimes. I am not simply consuming the information as entertainment but I like the ability and the space to be able to take it in. I like to be able to reflect on it and consider how it can be implemented into my life or how it pertains to me.
I started the weekend feeling a tad bereft about the state of our country. Many days it appears and feels like we’ve been involved in one long temper tantrum and everyone has taken a turn. If you think you haven’t, I invite you to kindly reconsider.
I was feeling like we had all devolved into such a painfully reactive state that we might never find our collective center again. Then I heard therapist, Kati Morton, say on a podcast we are all simply stuck in a fight or flight state as a whole. We are all looking for a way to feel safe. She said it seems like we are all reacting to coronavirus, masks, the election and more but it’s only a little about those things. It’s also for each of us something deeper.
That overall statement that made me feel better. It reminded me again that we are almost never upset about what we think we are. And other people are often not upset about what it appears they are.
I realized we aren’t really fighting about science or masks or viruses or the election. We are but we aren’t. We are fighting because we are grieving, afraid and unsure. It’s the grown-up version of having a monster under the bed, in the closet, and in the hallway outside your bedroom door. All of us. And when under stress and duress we all revert back to old, often unhelpful coping mechanisms at some point or another.
This allowed me to experience something that I had been sorely running low on for a few weeks: compassion. I was able to tap into compassion for myself and the ways I have been reactive and difficult. It allowed me to have a softer view of every single person that is lashing out on Facebook and Instagram and wherever else on the internet. We are all looking to get a hold of something that feels solid and certain. And if we can come to a conclusion in our minds, and find some other like-minded people who agree, we gravitate to each other like moths to a flame. Because in consensus we feel connected and we feel safe. Safety always feels like truth even if it’s not. Period.
Now just because we are afraid does not mean we’ve lost accountability. We are responsible for our actions. We will have times where we need to apologize. And I hope that I can offer and receive them graciously as the opportunities show up.
We are not at war with each other, it just feels that way. We are really at war with unfathomable seemingly endless amounts of fear, grief and fatigue. That’s what we really want to do battle with and worse yet, I offer that you consider: what if fighting wasn’t the answer? What if being here with it was? Feelings are meant to be felt, that is all. They inform us of how we feel moment to moment, that is all. They will leave as they are properly acknowledged, that is all.
This pandemic is real-time proof that our lives can change dramatically in six months. There has been tremendous upheaval and loss in this time. There has also been, I imagine, in our quieter, private moments forms of awakening. We have become aware of what is working in our lives and what really wasn’t before and really isn’t now.
As we move forward in the coming weeks and months, what if we could both acknowledge the hard parts and also look for ways that this difficult experience has been “for us.” What has this experience shown you about yourself? Where do you need to grow? Where has your hard work prior to this paid off?
This isn’t a form of toxic positivity where we pretend all is well, it’s all fine. It’s true positivity, which can hold the tension of opposites: this time is really painful AND it will not last forever. That is grounded positivity.
There are signs everywhere that our grasping toward normalcy and traditions is rather desperate. We cling to what we knew before, it’s natural. Now we are being offered the opportunity to entertain the idea that we are releasing what we had for possibly something better. We get to decide if this experience is entirely happening to us and we are witless victims or it’s happening for us and we are learning what in us and around us needs adjusting, shoring up, or entirely released.
How would your perspective of this time shift if you believed it was difficult AND happening for you?
Sunshine & Sarcasm,
Lowi & G