*Four Minute Read (Para leer en español, haga clic aquí)
I’ve been struggling with the unknown.
The unknown of how long we are going to live with a stay at home order. How long will I have to miss so many of my coworker’s kind smiles and banter? How long will I have to wear a mask outside of my house? How long will I live in fear of someone I love being infected and sick with the coronavirus?
Are we looking down the barrel of another few weeks, months, or longer?
We don’t know. The reality is no one knows. The information and data are still changing frequently and there really is no clear way to know or predict yet when life will begin to resemble something similar to what we knew in early 2020.
And the unknown can be a very scary, hard place for me, and I know for many of you as well.
Because of past traumas in my life, the feeling of the unknown and instability creates an incredibly unnerving feeling in the pit of my stomach. I start to doubt myself and allow other people and things to occupy too much room in my brain and too much energy in my heart.
When I feel unstable, I can fall back into old patterns of behavior that helped me survive those difficult times in my past. But they are behavioral patterns that no longer serve me well.
They were patterns and behaviors for survival.
Behaviors like distracting myself to avoid conflict, ignoring the reality of what was in front of me rather than attempt change, or just holding on for dear life until things passed.
But I no longer want to just survive. I want to thrive! I want to come out stronger, wiser, and kinder. These goals require more from me than simply behaviors for survival.
I’ve worked incredibly hard to change those old patterns and don’t want to regress. And unfortunately, I’ve caught myself regressing at times over the past few weeks.
I’ve felt anxious. Scared. Unsure. Insecure. And when those feelings hit, I might just zone out or isolate myself. Drown my sorrows in some carbs or spend a day on the couch. Or all of the above!
The better option when I find myself regressing is deciding to name what I’m feeling. I stop and reflect trying to identify what I truly am feeling and then change directions.
So, if I’m consumed with overwhelming and anxious thoughts for essential workers who are bravely still going into the community daily, I stop and remind myself that they are wise. So wise. And taking the necessary steps for their health and safety to simultaneously care for their communities and keep themselves as safe as possible from exposure of the coronavirus.
If I feel concerned for those of us simultaneously working while teaching and parenting children at home, I remember that we are capable and patient. I remind myself that everything needed to get through this time as parents is already inside of us and we simply have to allow it the space to shine, overshadow, and drown out the expectations of others.
If I feel heavy hearted for those of us struggling with our mental health, I think about all the tools available to help us cope and navigate this surreal experience in a healthy and positive way. Tools like Be Well Indiana and Mental Health America.
If I feel sad for those of us feeling isolated and alone because our environments have changed drastically over the last few weeks and our social supports have vanished, I remember this is an opportunity for connection to other people and ourselves in new and unique ways.
So maybe my fear and distress, that pit in my stomach, during uncertain times isn’t really about the unknown and uncertainty of what lies ahead.
Maybe my discomfort isn’t about not knowing when life will go back to some sort of normalcy.
Maybe my fear is actually my self-confidence waning. A diminishing belief in myself that whatever life throws at me next or the next time I have a challenging day that I won’t be able to bounce back as well as I might hope.
If I can just take a few minutes to stop and remind myself of my journey thus far in this thing we call life, I have all the proof I need to remember that’s simply not true. I have gotten through every day in my life so far and I’m still here to talk about it. The odds are in my favor that I’ll make it through anything that comes my way next too. I have to believe and trust myself enough to know that is my truth.
That is my primary job. Today and always. Trusting myself. Believing in myself.
Knowing that much of my life is a direct result of the choices I make. I can choose to live in the uncertainty of the unknown. Or I can choose to trust and believe that whatever lies ahead I will not only survive but grow from and thrive as a result.
Let’s make wise choices. Let’s create and continue healthy and positive patterns of behavior that serve us well today and into the future. I’ll do it if you will. Who’s with me?
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Stevie Cromer is the Cultural and Enrichment Manager for LUNA Language Services. Stevie regularly provides engaging content to LUNA’s team to encourage a culture of care within our own LUNA family. For more suggestions and resources about how you might build a culture of care throughout your organization, please reach out to Stevie at stevie@LUNA360.com.