You might be wondering about it, too.
“Shouldn’t I be adjusted to this whole pandemic thing by now?”
With the uncertainties that COVID’s ushered in, spikes in stress and social isolation, increasing levels of anxiety, and exhaustion are now the norm.
What many predicted would be a 3-month stint with a nasty virus, is an unmitigated disaster with profound impacts on your day-to-day life.
Early on we were all using “surge capacity” to function, that collection of adaptive systems — both mental, physical, and spiritual — that we draw on for our short-term survival in acutely stressful situations.
Unlike natural disasters, where you can observe the amount of physical damage done, COVID’s invisibility makes it elusive, its scope ongoing and indefinite.
Activities and support systems that you’ve relied on–the gym, getaways, even running errands–aren’t available now, resulting in radical shifts in work, family life, and education. Basically, everything.
And, since none of us has ever experienced the likes of the current situation, there’s no way we could’ve prepared for it.
It’s safe to say that COVID’s upended our collective sense of what’s normal.
We’re all feeling vulnerable, whether we recognize it or not (it’s just part of being human), edgy, fearful.
This can lead to strained connections, unpredictable moods and emotions, and loss of faith in the goodwill of fellow citizens.
And, none of this feels great. In fact, it stinks! And these everyday experiences leave us wide open to, you guessed it, more uncertainty.
Vulnerability, Shame & Recovering Our Humanity
Probably the biggest vulnerability we all face is shame. Shame disconnects and isolates us even though we’re all hunkered down together at home.
Shame moves us to doubt ourselves, to hang back and isolate, to not recognize need help or support. It leads us to buy into the fear that there’s something fundamentally wrong if we need extra sleep, time alone, fresh air more often.
In truth, all of us are beginners at this pandemic thing. So to expect to be used to this, or managing it well, is actually quite unrealistic.
If you’re willing to share your shame, what was once perceived as weakness or disdainful, or simply a secret to be hidden away, becomes a source of energy, connection, humanity.
In fact, when you’re feeling vulnerable, if you can stay with it, you’re also choose to open up other’s positive influence, too.
Your strength and frailty as a human being, your foibles and idiosyncrasies are a creative source for engaging with life as it unfolds each moment.
It just doesn’t typically feel like it.
Right now, standing right at the edge of what makes you most uncomfortable is the exact training you need to courageously engage with those around you.
Yet, it requires owning your vulnerabilities . . . admitting mistakes and failures, acknowledging not being an expert, and maybe needing help. It takes owning the tender difficulty of experiencing your emotions and other people’s too.
Your vulnerabilities connect you to yourself, and what it means to be human and compelling — amid all the messiness
Post Traumatic Growth
Believe it or not, you can turn your fears, high stress, and shame into what’s called post-traumatic growth. And, you can do it right now.
First, recognize and own how you’re feeling–now–even if you don’t like it. Name it, tame it.
Next, take a deep breath and slowly exhale, feeling your breath all the way down to your toes, releasing the feelings and tensions along the way. Notice the release in your body.
Then, choose to show your humanity and compassion by sharing your experience and asking someone else about theirs. Yep, and listen. Shared pain is pain divided. Shared vulnerability creates connection.
Lastly, focus on your connections–in your neighborhood and at work–we need each other. Ask for what you need. Offer your gifts. Community can sustain us.