I now see the meaning of my own creativity not as a way to stand out, be original or superior, but as the unexpected pathway towards powerful human connection with everyone who has struggled to observe and best express their life experiences. What a humbling, freeing, and comforting discovery!
It has been three weeks of adaptation. While the professionals have been working intensely on finding solutions to the virus crisis, attending to the sick, developing policies and communication strategies, or performing their essential services duties, we have been sitting at home, working (or not), eating, shopping, and looking after children and elderly. We are doing our best to maintain a sense of continuity and stability in the midst of dynamic uncertainty. These last few weeks have proven that we are not only able to adapt but also to enjoy elements of this new reality.
Here are some ideas on how to make the best of this worst of times:
- Put your own oxygen mask on first. You cannot help anyone if you are sick, your energy is depleted or your temper is short. If you get low on physical, psychological or emotional health, pause. Retreat and take care of yourself.
- Elevate your level of self-awareness. Monitoring your state of being is particularly important right now. Pay attention to how you are affected by others through direct contact, media or work. With vastly reduced access to our usual outlets like team sports, exercise, face-to-face contact, access to nature, and entertainment, we have fewer possibilities to recover. Navigate your direct and remote environments in the way that best supports your wellbeing.
- If you are enjoying yourself right now, good for you! There are numerous benefits this situation presents. If you are doing well, you are more likely to abide to the new rules and contribute to the global intent for a successful resolution. You are also more capable of giving others support, energy and love.
- Worrying about the unknown future, while completely understandable, is simply not good. Worry drains mental energy, dampens creativity and lessens our intelligence. Employ all available to you techniques to cease it before it flourishes. Seek professional help if you need to.
- In the quiet of your home (when it is quiet), try sitting silently and doing nothing. Let your thoughts and feelings come to your consciousness. Do not be afraid. They are just thoughts and feelings. As they come, try to name them. “I am afraid when I shop in the store. I am antsy. I feel bored”. Whatever it is, it is fine. So you feel this way. If you need to sit quietly and shed a tear, or put on loud music and dance or even yell, do it…as much as your environment allows. You are not crazy for having these impulses.
- This is a suitable time for projects that require an uninterrupted amount of time. This unique time will be over, sooner or later. Use this opportunity.
- If this unusual situation has spun creative ideas in your head, act on them. The extraordinariness of this time puts us in a unique emotional and mental state that can stimulate creativity that is normally not as available to us in our busy, crowded with activities lives.
- Pay attention to all that is unchanged. When looking at the TV screen, we see a disastrous picture. When we look through the window, life is reliably and comfortingly the same. The planet we live on is unchanged, if not slightly improved. It is beautiful, nurturing and unmoved by some fragile virus.
- Be with nature. No more to be said.
- Have faith. Faith is about trusting in a positive outcome without having any proof that it will come. Visualize the end of this, a triumphal end that will mark the beginning of a beautiful new phase on the globe. A phase in which we are more humbled, united, present and competent.
In love, it seems that often incongruity, misunderstanding, miscommunication, and triggered trauma are what engage us day-to-day and minute-to-minute. However, if you take a breath and submerge under all this, you are likely to discover the powerful and unwavering simplicity of indisputable, unforgiving love. When love is at work, everything else submits to it. We try to deal with it in all ways we can imagine and with all tools that we have acquired to this point. It might anger and frustrate us. It could scare or upset us. We will attempt to kick and push, protest, whine or pretend that we don’t notice. Our attempts to move away from these states, however, should not be considered as anything more than that. For we have no power to stop love when it has settled in our bodies and our minds.
Children are endearing to watch. They are funny. Cute. Delightful. Other people’s kids.
Three-year-old is Max playing in the sand. He dashes towards the road and looks back at his mother laughing. She sprints to catch him. Her face is tense. No trace of delight.
Charming smiles, tight hugs and sudden kisses, heartwarming love admissions. Squeals, loud cries. Expressions of misery and hate, grabs for the face and hair. A mix of pleasure, love and fear. Richness. Exhaustion. What was it like before – when she was just a child and not a mother? A distant memory she grasps on in brief off-duty moments.
Homework, backpacks, lunches, sports, play-dates, negotiations. Her eyes are no longer locked on her child. Her mind still follows him. The possibilities of future form, hopes of success and happiness…
She stands before the mirror and sees a woman who has nurtured, worried, and sat in the car for hours chauffeuring. Things are no longer the same. She heads toward her son’s room to remind him of something she has just remembered. A gentle knock. A loud yell in response, “Go away! Leave me alone! And you know what? I don’t like you.” She sits down. Waves of disbelief and rage sweep over her. Her knees feel weak. Her mind is empty. She stares in the dark space.
So, this is what it feels like to be a mother? Her soul aches. She is confused and grasps for answers. She tries to push back and revert the past. She wants to add control, to attack or even belittle just like her mother did to her. Or maybe she could just check out of motherhood?
She suffers yet she chooses to stay…close to her son’s experience. She feels theforce of growing up and changing. Her own self-hood is called to find answers, strengthen and expand. She must find a way to be that makes her happy.
Mother and son sit in the kitchen. Her son puts his arm around her shoulders. She looks up. Their eyes meet. He smiles so very innocently. “Sorry.”
Parenting is emotionally intense. Parenting teenagers is particularly hard. It could sweep the peace out of your home and throw you into a storm. Staying open to ideas when emotions run high is not easy. Part of your child’s job is to test your parenting fitness. If you are on your way to scold, lecture or insult your child marching to his/her door, you might want to turn around, take a walk or go to your room, and consider the following:
- What emotion am I experiencing?
- If it is fear, what am I afraid of?
- If I feel anger, what specifically angered me?
- If I feel hurt, what specifically hurt me?
- If it is something else, what exactly is the issue?
2. What other thoughts are coming to mind?
For example, if your child arrives from school with a low mark, you could think “He is going to end up like me. I think I was wrong to sign him up for this school. I failed him as a parent.” Or “I give her everything and she is not doing the one job that she has! Does she think it’s easy for me to work 50 hours a week. I hate this job…” You get it.
3. Could my emotions have anything to do with how my day has been going or how I have been feeling about myself recently?
An example would be when at work your team has failed to deliver what they promised today. You come home and find the tasks you gave your child are not done. You kept polite at work but you are enraged at your child for going against you, disrespecting you and ultimately trying to bring you down.
- Is my child demonstrating a repeated behavior? If so, have I set aside some time to think through what might be going on? Have I discussed it with my parenting partner?
For example, you have noticed that your daughter has started staying up late, her marks have dropped, and she is more abrasive with you than before. Fear overcomes you. Following Step 1, you have identified what you are afraid of. In Step 2, you have made connections to your past experiences and determined what your fear is based on. In Step 3, you have de-tangled the issue from your current emotional state. Now you can think more clearly about the problem, come up with some ideas of the reasons and potentially bring them up to your partner.
- Could I ask my child and how would I go about it?
In the case above, you could go straight to her and ask her to immediately revert her behavior, or you can sit down and talk to her. It would be of interest to understand when and why her behavior has changed, what is preoccupying her, and what she thinks about the change.
Finally, you may often get the steps wrong or skip them. Emotions often rule over our intelligent minds. However, when you are calm again and your thinking starts to clear, do tell your child that you have made a mistake. Admit that emotions took the best of you, and then talk to them. Keep trying and you will succeed.
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Thank you for reading,