by Sam Smith
April 06, 2020
This weekend I was reflecting on my schedule over the past couple of weeks. I’ve been leaving the house at a minimum, because many of my work activities are constricted. Although my kids are at home, they are fairly self-sufficient at ages 17 and 21. My partner is working from home as well, leaving even less frequently than I have been.
It’s been a series of huge changes.
Among the social media groups I belong to, I see many comments about a variety of challenges that our world’s current circumstances have brought upon us. For many people, life feels out of control.
How to get ready for a challenging week? Start by giving yourself grace; giving the people in your life grace.
We are all facing the challenges – myself, the other parent in my household, our children (together we have a total of 6, and 4 of them are over 18 so facing their own home-life challenges). In your circle, perhaps you find yourself alone, or maybe the kids are at home expecting 3 meals a day and needing to keep up with schoolwork while you need to do your job AT THE SAME TIME.
I think there is no easy answer, but here’s an idea: embrace the change, and overcome the challenges.
It’s completely cheesy and overused to say ‘embrace the change’, and I actually kind of dislike that type of phrase, but take it in a slightly different direction since this is a different experience.
When you are faced with something that is outside the norm it’s easy to become frustrated. When things or other people are out of our control, we feel frustrated. All day long, each of us has expectations about how things are “supposed to happen” and when they don’t happen that way or interpersonally you’re not having your expectations met, you get frustrated. If you think about it, feeling frustration can be a selfish approach to a challenge.
So I go back to the idea of looking at things differently, the idea of embracing change. We all know that there is no ‘normal’, as in the way of life we have known up until about 3 weeks ago. In fact, we are existing in a ‘normal’ right now – it’s a new version of normal, and the only thing we can truly do about it is to comply for the greater good of humanity.
At this point, I feel pretty sure that whatever was normal 3 weeks ago is not going to come back 100% into existence after another 3 weeks of quarantine (April 30, 2020). The more we resist this change, the longer the restrictions will be in place, and the less normalcy we will feel. As long as people keep resisting embracing the reality of changing to a new normal, this existence will be prolonged.
Yes, it’s exceedingly difficult to be unable to go to work because your business has been ordered closed.
Yes, it may feel impossible to be expected to keep kids up-to-speed on school assignments while doing your job full-time from home.
Yes, it’s frustrating to be a teacher trying to keep your students educated for success, because you have even less control of what and how they are digesting the curriculum.
And, oh-how-surreal it must feel to be working in the highly-essential businesses of health care professions, supply chain participants, grocery stores, emergency services… all of which have drastically changed as a result.
Humans are resilient, no matter what age or circumstance.
Increase your ability to be resilient by finding the pieces of life that are beautiful, which you are lucky to have. Whatever it might be. Bring to mind or write down at least 3 things right now that you can be grateful for, and at least one of those things needs to be something you are unhappy about… find the happy in the unhappy.
There’s always something to appreciate! For example
- If you are unhappy about being at home all day: Be thankful, you who have a home, because there are millions of people without a home today.
- If you stressing because you cannot go to work: Be grateful to have a job to look forward to going back to.
- If you are pulling your hair out because you are struggling to manage the kids at the same time you work all day: You have a multitude of happiness in your life between consistent work/income, having even one child where others would give up so much to have even that, spending time together even if it is a lot of arguing because you are all getting to know each other better…. I can remember when mine were young, they provided me with the biggest mirror showing me both my good and bad traits, and inspiring me to change the things about ME that I did not like.
If you’re not seeing the silver lining in those circumstances, start with the basics:
- Running water
- Fresh air
- Spring in the air – the season of rebirth
When it’s really hard to find things to appreciate about these circumstances, get outside. Whether it’s clear and warm or rainy and cold, getting outside the ‘four walls’ even if it means walking around the exterior of your apartment building may provide you with some positive thoughts if you look for them.
It could be that our biggest challenge is with ourselves and the relative complacency we exist in, during this point in history: we are being forced to be resourceful and creative whether we like it or not!
You can take control of your response to your circumstances, to your challenges. And when you take positive control of your responses, you WILL still find yourself struggling or frustrated especially where interactions with other people occur…. Your mental and emotional responses can be changed by finding a tiny speck of positivity, and feeding that with gratitude.
If you haven’t seen this yet, it can offer a bit of perspective. Written 160 years ago, it can still be read as if it applies to modern times. “What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.” – Ecclesiastes 1:9
And people stayed at home– Kathleen O’Mara, 1869
And read books
And they rested
And did exercises
And made art and played
And learned new ways of being
And stopped and listened
Someone meditated, someone prayed
Someone met their shadow
And people began to think differently
And people healed.
And in the absence of people who
Lived in ignorant ways
Dangerous, meaningless and heartless,
The earth also began to heal
And when the danger ended and
People found themselves
They grieved for the dead
And made new choices
And dreamed of new visions
And created new ways of living
And completely healed the earth
Just as they were healed.