Dear soft hearted people,
I know there’s a lot to consider with where to go, when, and with which people. There are so many layers of privilege highlighted with the injustices of the pandemic including discrepancies in health care, individual transportation versus public transportation, having employment, having a home, and unequal access to education to name a few. When it comes to choices outside of paying the bills we can choose what to attend for community/spiritual unity, family gatherings, and when and how to support friends. It is crucial to have discernment with the understanding that our needs may change at any point.
Decisions of when and who to see can be complex. It may even be scary and you wish it wasn’t. You may look at other peoples’ outsides and compare to how you think you should feel on the inside. You may even be perceiving or experiencing pressure from a loved one to do something you are not quite ready for yet. It is a pandemic and it is evolutionarily appropriate to fear illness or the spread of illness to communities/loved ones. It is per our evolution that we freeze, fight, or flight when we encounter and try to survive a dangerous situation. It is scientifically understandable if you have freeze, fight, or flight reactions to getting sick from this virus. It is psychologically understandable if people have various responses to fear of death. I want to share with you ways we can further soften the heart and gain connectedness to self and others during these times.
It is crucial to be gentle with ourselves as we consider invitations, traditions, and time off or holidays. That may be an easy sentence to bypass so I’ll say it again. It is important to be gentle with ourselves. Easier said than done! It’s okay to take a moment to assess your level of comfortability with an invitation/plan/commitment. The cool part is, it’s okay to change your mind too! As new information rolls in, financial stability/instability changes, new guidelines are released, or testing becomes more available, we can even be gentle with change and flexibility being a challenge.
If we plow through a commitment because we feel obligated or like we may be perceived as being too uptight we may be separating from our inner wisdom or authentic self. For example, if you have a gut feeling you aren’t ready for dinner indoors with loved ones, but don’t follow that intuition you may feel internal conflict or inner criticism afterward. It can be helpful to honor that gut feeling rather than to spiral from not aligning with your intuition. If you’re thinking, “well how do I even get in touch with this authentic me in the first place” then please keep reading.
It can be so helpful to take quiet time (some may call this meditation or journaling) to reflect on needs/wants. You may reflect on the setting, people, your definition of social distancing and theirs, and compromises. If you do want to spend time with someone during the holidays you can discuss your needs. We can even be gentle with ourselves if boundary setting around COVID-19 is awkward. This can be easier said than done. If you decide to connect with someone and you want to experience the joyful moments fully you can meditate for a moment before you see them or envision the most loving person you know holding your hand as you arrive. A quick deep belly breath, grounded moment, or imagery can go a long way to help the joy sink in. It can also help your nervous system take a beat (ahh how wonderful).
These unprecedented times emphasize the importance of boundaries now more than many times before. You can start or continue practicing boundaries that are more authentically you today. And if you do something outside your COVID-19 comfort zone you can stop, leave, or not do it again for a while. You can even forgive yourself without blame to yourself or others while assessing what you’d like to do differently next time. It’s okay. These times are weird. Let’s be soft hearted with each other and ourselves as we all try to find or maintain connection in whatever that looks like for you today.
With a soft heart,
3 thoughts on “Gentleness with Decisions During the Pandemic”
Dr. J, I want to thank you for allowing us to see that we are not alone in our thoughts during these times. For myself, the pandemic has been challenging and sometimes confusing when it comes to meeting new people. I love how you gave us space to reflect on our feelings and gave some strategies to deal with our feelings too. Great 1st blog!! I can’t wait for the next one!
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Thank you for these fantastic tools to handle this pandemic. I especially love that you said to acknowledge my gut feeling and reflect on that feeling. I will share this post with my friends and patients!
Thank you Dr J. I appreciate your thoughts on following your intuition and practicing gentleness with ourselves, especially given that none of us have experienced this in our lifetimes. I didn’t realize that I was so tired and wondered why I was forgetting simple things and a little foggy. Your suggestions on slowing down, setting boundaries, and having some quiet time are just what I needed. These are wonderful reminders and I am taking deep belly breaths and allowing the joy in. 🙂
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