What a crazy time this is! Many of us are under stay-at-home orders due to the SARS-CoV-2 virus. We are having to do things differently, with no specific endpoint in view. Will the order go through the end of April? Will it extend into May? We just don’t know. Many are just hoping to return to ‘normal’. But what does that even mean? Things will be different once we all start coming out of our homes. There will be small differences and there will be big differences – all requiring us to adapt. We will have to re-create our lives – work-wise, socially, and publicly.
All of this uncertainty causes an emotional reaction including stress, anxiousness, and fear. To help ourselves, and others through this time, we have to be able to listen to, and work through, our emotions. If we don’t work through our emotions, they fog us in. They cloud our ability to think clearly, we mix up probability and actuality, and we then make decisions out of fear. There is a good reason why decisions should not be made ‘in the heat of the moment’. The heat of the moment means in the swirl of the unresolved emotions. Good decisions are never made out of the unresolved emotions. Good decisions are only made after the emotions are worked through.
So – what can we do? How can we support ourselves in working through our emotions? How can we support others in working through their emotions? Here are a few ideas:
- Don’t pretend you don’t have any emotions about this crazy situation. Pushing it all down to be strong, to be calm, whatever your reason is, doesn’t help you or anyone else. Plus, when those emotions finally do come out, the pile will be bigger and more entangled than if you had just expressed them from the beginning.
- Write about your emotions. Grab a journal and start writing down everything you are feeling, not just what you are thinking.
- Talk about your emotions. Find a good listener – someone who will let you express whatever emotion you need to express, without judgement or evaluation. The trick is to keep expressing everything you are feeling. Don’t think that you’ll necessarily be done in one 15-minute conversation.
- Be the good listener. Suspend listening for yourself. Don’t ask questions – just relax, be present, and listen to how they feel without interruption.
Doing these things will help both the immediate situation and in the future. We will be living with uncertainty and change for quite awhile to come. It is unlikely that there will be a ‘return to normal’ because the definition of normal will have changed. That change will bring additional uncertainty which will cause more fear and also conflict. The only way to get ahead of this is to work through the emotion so that you can resolve the conflicts that will come up. Without that, you get stuck. You can’t go back to the normal that doesn’t exist any longer, but you also can’t move forward into the new normal.
Benjamin Disraeli said, ‘Fear makes us feel our humanity.” What better time to express our humanity than to listen to our own fear and the fear of others? Expressing the emotions enables us to tuck them in our pocket and take them along for the ride. We still feel the emotions, but they don’t paralyze us or run us. We can do what we need to do and make good decisions, in spite of still having the emotion.
During this time, we are providing good listening. If you need someone to ‘just listen’, please reach out. We can do this over the phone or via the web. If you are a good listener, reach out to others. Just because we are apart doesn’t mean we have to be alone. Let’s all show ourselves, and each other, a good dose of humanity.