Recently, I engaged in a dialogue, and the purpose of the dialogue was to answer a question I had. In particular, how to deal with the craziness we find ourselves in. Not surprisingly, the dialogue ended without a conclusion. For me, that was such an indication of the moment we find ourselves in, a moment where we do not have answers, all we know is that we have to do what we have to do to just keep going. And even that feels really hard at times.
However, during these times, what I am learning about myself is to cultivate a balanced and complete perspective of my Self. In essence it requires me to take each day as it comes and as I am able to, address the different factors, both positive and negative, controllable and uncontrollable, that impact on how I feel about myself and what I am able to do for myself to be well.
While it does not take away the much broader stress, the anxiety and all the other stuff that comes with the current moment, it has helped me to focus my energy and attention on what is within my control. I have learnt to focus on small things, and when I am not able to, to give myself a break. I have learnt to celebrate small gains in self-care, and even steps in asking for support when I felt like I am drowning. My biggest AHA moment during this time has been that perhaps, despite the stormy weathers outside, the best gift to myself in this moment is to keep my boat afloat and safe. Even if I do not know the destination in these deep seas right now, working on coping and self-efficacy is enough.
Some areas that I focus my attention on, include:
# 1 – My needs and values
Being clear on my needs and values grounds me, for example the value of connection, contributing to other’s wellbeing or the value of growth are all possible values. Understanding these values as priorities, means that during these times of uncertainty, I have to assess how these values are being met in my life. This in a sense, also allows me to remain connected to my own overall wellbeing.
# 2 – My wishes and desires for wellbeing in this time
Even with all the uncertainty, and sometimes increased pressures (care work and other related pressures), I have also made time to connect to what (even in the short-term) my desire is for myself during these times. This has assisted me in prioritizing feeling good in my body, feeling connected to people in life, feeling like I can still function (in terms of work) and also identifying opportunities for learning.
#3 Identifying and addressing your leaks
If I was really sailing a boat, then potentially there could be leaks that would affect the efficacy of my journey across the seas. Similarly, in my life, during this period, I have taken the time to identify behaviors, practices and even mindsets that affect me staying afloat and being well. I cannot say I have eliminated all of them, but it’s a work in progress and a constant commitment to be better at being kind to myself. As one of my clients said, “I realized that when I cannot take better care of myself, I am less able to support the people in my life that are important to me.” Thus addressing your leaks is an act of self-preservation on one hand, and on the other hand may also assist with enhancing your ability to be more available and present to your loved ones.
#4 Accentuate the positives and celebrate the strengths
In these times, more than others, it is important to be able to identify and celebrate the things we are able to do well. This is an infusion of energy that is much needed and lightens the spirit.
#5 Assess and adjust
As one would navigate the seas, we rely on a compass to guide us. In these times, we have to be our own compass. It requires creating space to reflect on how you are doing. Acknowledge areas you are not great at, without beating yourself up over it. Also, if possible, adjust what is not working! If we think of this work as a balancing act, wherever we are out of balance, we have to adjust.