“2020, really blindsided me…”
“I guess 2020 made me think…”
I read a report recently about increased demand for personal counselling and sadly, an increase in the number of divorces filed.
It made me think about my workload this year and in late 2020, and the number of personal crises my friends experienced/are experiencing.
If there was a metaphor for 2020 and 2021, it would be a community in recovery. In a community, we see the immediate reaction to a traumatic event with “hunkering down” where we see the absolute best of people – throwing themselves into action and coming together to accelerate recovery.
After about three months, we see a “WTF” moment where we reflect on what happened, how it has affected us and our relationships.
I have always felt that what follows trauma, is that things get better, and then things get worse and then eventually becomes better again. This always seemed to occur around that three-month mark when we see the effect of the change or event.
My casework (and that of many of my colleagues) this year has seen an increase in personal coaching and relationship support.
Let me tell you, it’s tough work…for me, but more critically, for the people who are crying out for help.
How can we help ourselves?
What are some of the things we can do to help ourselves through a period that consists of real questioning, reflection and sometimes even resetting how we manage our lives?
The first thing we can do is to listen to our bodies. I am a great believer in that our bodies and souls are designed to look after ourselves.
Call it intuition, a gut feeling, a “sixth sense” or whatever you wish -just listen to it. Listen to what it is saying, consider its wisdom and how it works for you, and apply the message.
Secondly, lean in – don’t lean out. Don’t avoid or deny feelings.
Don’t let the gap between your perceived and actual reality become too big – this leads to behavioural dysfunction such as addiction, drinking, gambling and inappropriate relationships that takes you away from your true purpose.
Lean in and accept help, have the difficult conversations, do the hard yards regardless of what the outcome is, you know what you did was necessary for your world.
Another thing we can do is to look up and out, not down and in.
When we are going through some troubles in life, we tend to only look within and downwards, and get distracted by the little things.
We fail to see the big picture and all the opportunities that lay in front of us. Gone is the attitude of gratitude; replaced with a sense of incompleteness instead.
We start to blame others for difficult experiences and forget to reach up and out not down and in.
Looking in and down leads to a fear of missing out. Looking up and out, however, reminds us of what we already have and that things may not be all that bad.
It is equally important to surround yourself with good people who will call out your behaviour.
When we go through periods of uncertainty and introspection, we tend to shut out the messages that we need to hear. We attract “fence-sitters” who fear telling us the truth or can’t express it in a constructive way.
So, surround yourself with good people who have the best intentions for you in their heart. Those that are willing to act on those intentions for your benefit regardless of how difficult or uncomfortable the situation.
Focus on moments and memories.
Life’s journey is made up of both positive and negative experiences throughout our existence.
It is these moments and memories that you look back on in your end of life.
What do you want those moments and memories to be and what can you do today to achieve them?
Keep communicating. But remember information is like oxygen – if you don’t get enough, you die. If you get too much, you get giddy and lose perspective.
Think about the best way to communicate what is important. How to make the message receiver-orientated and when and where to deliver the message to achieve a mutually respectful result.
Life changes people. We can’t stop storms from coming towards us, but we can change how we choose to prepare for and react to them.
The other analogy about storms in life is that this too will pass.
My experience tells me that a lot about life is just “turning up”.
So, think about your relationships in the context of changes in your life.
At the end of the day relationships are the only thing that matters.
How you nurture those relationships is, in my opinion, the most important thing that you should concern yourself with.
Change creates resets but that does not mean that you wipe out all the memories and experiences that have helped you grow.
Life is a series of lessons – learn them well.