Our world changed in a very short period. There is a lot of conflict right now – within ourselves and outside of ourselves. And while none of us like conflict, except maybe us conflict managers, conflict is a sign that something needs to be changed; that there is a problem or problems that need to be solved. Conflict is an opportunity for growth and growth is painful for sure. We like things to be predictable and steady, and life is full of joy but it’s full of problems too. Problems are not in the way – they are the way. They happen. They are part of life. And sometimes it’s hard and it’s messy and this time, this virus, and with politics, it’s really hard and it’s messy. We need each other. We only know what we know. We only see through our lens. We need other people to help us know and see through a bigger lens. We all need to be heard, to be seen and to be understood, to be helped even and maybe especially if we think differently. During times like this, we need to do some supportive community building. We are all in this together. We also need to check in on our interior – our own experience as a human being – who am I? What are my fears, concerns, distresses? And we need to build resilience – a way to stay strong and calm and centered during these times. We’re not in this for a short sprint. Life as we have known it has changed radically.
Uncertainty is one of the best triggers for our deepest fears – and those fears are not just around our current trauma, but also they bring up our past traumas. Many of the fears that come up are stored in our bodies. When we are afraid, when we act in fear, we are not making our best decisions. Our fears can grow and grow and we can become avoidant and distant. We need to notice and deal with how we react and who we are, particularly in these difficult and uncertain times.
So how do we build resilience in the face of fear?
First, we need self-regulation. We need to notice what’s going on within us. We need to recognize what emotions and what physical symptoms we’re experiencing. Then we need to slow things down. How do I feel right now? Who am I today? We cannot control the circumstances of our lives, but we can control how we show up; who we are in those circumstances. When you’re feeling overwhelmed, when in doubt, come back to yourself. Regulate your stress. We need to try to stay in the present. What is true at the moment? You are breathing. You are here. Ground yourself. Feel your feet. Scan your body and feel your presence. Breathe deeply and slowly. We need to take care of ourselves so that we can also take care of others.
Second, we need relationship regulation. We need to reach out with compassionate listening – not giving advise – just being there for each other. Emotions are contagious. Anxiety breeds anxiety, fear breeds fear. Here again, we ground ourselves so that we can contribute to a better experience. Please check the information for the truth. Make an effort to create and share positive news and information. If we can show up calm and just being there for someone in a relationship, we can lessen the anxiety that we are all feeling.
Third, we need group support. We need intelligent community building. We need local – in our own homes, and community, and global innovation. We need problem solving and inspiration and we can’t do that if we’re coming from a place of fear. We close off and distance when we are in fear. From a place of fear, we react rather than respond. When we respond, we are giving. We’re so much more effective. Come together for the sake of coming together. Reach out to others. Be part of the solutions.
This time needs to be run by love and compassion. Keep your heart open. Support each other. Stay courageous and brave.
There have been crises throughout history, and we have gotten through it, stronger and better. We can do this. We need to support each other and provide a supportive community.
We have to let go of how the world was yesterday. We need to release ourselves of what we knew – we can’t keep looking back. As much as we can, we have to look forward. We need to reduce our need for solutions that are too far ahead and look at the next step that we can do that is doable. We need to build hope. We can do that through our spiritual practice and peacebuilding. How do you build hope?
So, we need to look forward to take the steps that we can see; staying in the present moment, and doing the next right thing in this moment. We need personal and team regulation. We need to invest some time every day to have a discussion and come together and have a moment that we see ourselves as a team because we’re more effective together as a team.
When in trauma, in fear, we come from a place of scarcity – of not enough- time, not enough space, not enough things- in this case -toilet paper. This reaction is hard-wired into us. When it feels scarce, it’s time for us to give. Love needs to run the show – not fear. Bring yourself back to a place of love.
I want to talk about blame for a moment. I agree with Brene Brown when she says that blame is a way to discharge pain and anger. It’s a way to feel like we have some control. It does nothing to help the situation though and can even make it worse. Instead of “who is to blame,” it would be nice to focus on “what are the solutions.” It doesn’t matter whose side of the boat is sinking, we are all in this together and we need to figure out how to swim.
Finally, we need gratitude. Spending time every day recognizing what we do have helps us to center, appreciate and calm. One of my favorite quotes that a friend shared with me once, “In life there are 10,000 sorrows and 10,000 joys. The sorrows will find you. You must look for the joys.” Find them. They are there.
Kimberly Best, RN, MA is the author of “How to Live Forever: A Guide to Writing the Final Chapter of Your Life Story”
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