(Reading time 3 minutes)
There hasn’t been much that feels gentle about the last period. With everything seemingly changing hour by hour, uncertainty weighs heavy. With the sense of “not knowing” so palpable, it’s difficult to plan anything. Hopefulness slowly slips away along with the weeks. Quite honestly, I’ve been in survival mode. It’s been a letting go of everything but the absolute necessities. I’ve had a locked-in focus on the pandemic – needing to know everything I can about it, following the stats, doing everything I can to stay safe, wondering when things will turn around and when the restrictions will begin to lift. I know I can’t stay in this high alert state forever. It’s too exhausting. What I am slowly, reluctantly beginning to realize, is that we may be in for a marathon instead of the sprint I thought it was going to be. If that is the case, I need to change my pace. I need to do something to replenish my energy. I need to stop looking for the finish line and start focusing on running the race that is in front of me. It’s not the race I thought I’d be running right now, but it’s the race I’ve got – we’ve got. As I let go of my resistance to the thought that this might go on longer than I imagined, gentle acceptance washed over me. I realize the letting go of trying to figure out what is unknowable is like breathing after being stuck underwater. In the stillness that follows, I realize shifting my pace means including pockets of healthy routine that will help nurture and sustain me over a more extended period. This gentle acceptance has me moving from feeling helplessly suspended into making some plans and taking some action. It feels like I’m reclaiming my life.
Here are a couple of things that helped shift me to this place of gentle acceptance:
- Connecting to my coping capacity: Realizing that I have been through challenging times before and have come out on the other side. I can do hard. I might not like it, but I can do it until it’s not hard anymore. (You can read more about how to do this here)
- Gentle Acceptance of the situation we find ourselves in – it is what it is.
- Compassion: Allowing all my emotions – letting go of the guilt of sometimes not being able to see the silver lining, letting go of the thought that my “bad” emotions will drown me if I allow myself to feel them (Learn more about difficult emotions and how to deal with them in psychologist Susan David’s podcast Checking In – Why Bad Emotions are Good.)
- Uncertainty: The quote below is helping me change the way I’m thinking about uncertainty.
Hope locates itself in the premises that we don’t know what will happen and that in the spaciousness of uncertainty there is room to act. When you recognize uncertainty, you recognize that you may be able to influence the outcomes – you alone or you in concert with a few dozen or several million others. Hope is an embrace of the unknown and the unknowable, an alternative to the certainty of both optimists and pessimists. Optimists think it will all be fine without our involvement; pessimists take the opposite position; both excuse themselves from acting. It’s the belief that what we do matters even though how and when it may matter, who and what it may impact, are not things we can know beforehand.Hope in the Dark, Rebecca Solnit
If you just want to connect with another human or would like help finding that place of gentle acceptance or changing the way you think about uncertainty, please connect with me to set something up.
SUE DAS, COURAGE COACH, CPCC, ACC, B SOC SC (SW)