What gets us through hard times? Reflect for a moment on other times in your life when you were struggling to stay afloat. What helped you then?
For many people, a sense of community, knowing we are in this together, is a foundation of strength and resilience. Some families sheltering-in-place are finding that cooking, exercising and playing together are making them stronger as a unit as well as individually. They are using this time to get to know and appreciate one another. There is a sense that their fear and grief are shared experiences and that lightens the burden. When one person falters, another can take the lead for awhile. There is a balancing and emotional co-regulation within the group.
People who are not emotionally stable, are grieving, addicted, or under great stress and financial pressure may turn against one another. People who were hurt, abused or neglected as children don’t naturally turn to others for support. It is no surprise that we are experiencing a rise in domestic violence and alcohol use during this time.
Humans have a biological drive to surround ourselves with people who can help protect us from danger. Right now we are at greater risk from this virus by being around people. Whether we live alone or with others, some feel isolated from a lack of connection, a feeling that no one has our back, or that no one really cares. Loneliness, already a major problem, has been intensified with Covid-19.
We are frustrated with people who ignore science and hard facts. They dismiss Covid-19 as a hoax and do not seem to realize or care about their responsibility to other people. They sneer at our masks and ignore social distancing. They put us at greater risk and it infuriates us because we feel helpless. It is easy to get discouraged. There are many ways to take action.
Our nervous systems have taken a huge hit and we need to support ourselves physically as much as possible. Get enough sleep, eat well, limit alcohol and other drugs, phone a friend, dance, play music, feel the sun on your face, exercise, and make the effort to do things that you enjoy. We can’t have a party or go out to a restaurant with friends but maybe we could hop online with them or meet them for a socially distanced visit. These things make us stronger.
We need access to our power, especially now. We must to be able to take a deep breath and speak up, even if we are triggered into a shame storm. Cultivate your courage. Imagine yourself standing strong and confident, grounded and steady. Remember the strength and resilience of your ancestors.
Use your experience in life to guide you to action now, especially if you have a trauma background. Flight/fight/freeze/fawn are four of our major survival strategies. What is your history and how is this affecting you today?
I now see with deep regret how my pattern of going into freeze prevented me from seeing what I couldn’t afford to see. Had I acknowledged the truth, I would have taken action sooner to get out of the situations I was in. Knowing I could fall back into this pattern, I remind myself that I can’t afford to lose focus or minimize the danger. I need to be appropriately vigilant and pay attention so I can protect myself and others.
We all have a variety of experiences. For years in the 80’s and 90’s I was an activist. I woke up out of freeze and used anger at injustice to fuel action. I found my voice and challenged authority. I also have that to call on.
What is your experience? What are your strengths? Some people have a natural compassion and ability to connect with people. Others are funny and can ease a situation with humor. How can you support yourself and others during these difficult times?
Listen to this guided inquiry to tune in to the courage in your own heart.