As time passes, we become weighed in with the reality of it all. This virus, as has been the case for so many contagions before us, could last for much longer than we had initially anticipated. It may become a way of life for a while. Working on managing the virus with social distancing, wearing masks/gloves, and being home-bound may be the beginning of a long process. How do we move beyond interrupted anxiety about “what could happen?”; or lingering isolation with deepening loneliness and depression; or ongoing family or relationship conflicts with no individual space; or heightened stress about how to pay the bills or put food on the table?
How do we endure? How do we use this time as a way to challenge ourselves with what we actually can change? As well, how can we embrace our suffering so it doesn’t overcome us? Indeed, it would be quite the challenge to allow ourselves to suffer without being run over by our negative thoughts and fears, much less the certainty of the realness of this crisis.
What is it inside of us that brings ourselves to a sense of calm when the world is spinning around us? Of course, it can be denying or minimizing the true effect of the spinning. But beyond this, what characteristics or values or beliefs or vision does one hold to truly not give way to all of the chaos around us?
Is it a sense of who we are or how we define ourselves that makes a difference, or how we put together the real meaning of life? Maybe a goal is to have an internal locus of control vs. reacting to what happens outside of ourselves. Maybe it is redefining our purpose that drives us throughout our lifetime, regardless of the circumstances that befall upon us. Maybe it is a time to turn in and look at what shapes our own principles or values, and sense of resolve, or true Faith beyond ourselves that gives us resolution? Maybe that is what will help us endure – coming back to our roots; asking ourselves what life is supposed to be all about. Maybe that is the way we can challenge ourselves with what we can actually change – a sense of serenity during a time of chaos.
Claudia A. Liljegren, MSW, LICSW