I cried three separate times in a 24-hour period last week. About three separate issues. Related to three separate people. Snotty, hands-over-the-face, melt downs. Anytime someone asked how I was at the beginning of a call or meeting, I responded with a half-smile, “Hanging in there.” But what I really meant was…I’m barely getting by.
The physical well-being of so many is at risk. Layered onto that is our emotional well-being which is suffering. I’m stating the obvious. Sometimes, though, stating the obvious helps us to realize what was anything but: that this is getting to us, that this is harder than we thought, that this is grief-like, that this is scary, and that sometimes this whole thing feels hopeless.
What I know in times of heavy emotion and weighted fear, is that we want to solve it. Which I think is why this new reality of ours is so hard…because we can’t solve it right now. Or anytime in the immediate future. We can’t hustle our personal way out of this or set goals and achievements to make this pass. Instead, all we can do is make choices that better our selves and the collective, until the collective is less at risk. That’ll take a while. So in the meantime, we’re being asked to sit in our shit: the shit of our feelings, our fears, what we’ve lost because of this, what broke down, and what will never return.
In that sitting, we can do something profoundly powerful for our emotional well-being and for our future…we can take inventory. We can reflect. We can ask ourselves what this particular experience is showing us. What are we learning about how we used to live that didn’t serve us? What are we finding is possible that society said wasn’t? What do we miss like hell that we previously took for granted?
Normal isn’t something we have to return to. I’d venture to say there are many parts of our old normal that we’re realizing we’d be happy to leave in the past. Or everyday elements of our past that we fully took for granted. The beautiful part of this Great Pause is that we can see clearly, suffering and all. Our lives until this point were like speeding across the highway at 90MPH while trying to read the small sign posted on the church doors. It’s impossible. It’s only in a screeching halt that we can make out the details of what that sign was trying to tell us.
Like any abrupt halt, it’s disorienting and sometimes painful because the force of momentum meeting your reality asks to be reckoned with. But once that sting wears off, everything in front of your eyes becomes crystal clear...if you choose to examine it, to make sense of it, and to question it…all of it.
Which I hope we do. So, I’ve made this 14-question worksheet to guide you through making the most of your thoughts around this pause. Hopefully, it’ll help you find a bright spot in the madness if you’re just barely getting by.