Let it Go
Coping. It has been a year of coping with undeniable bullshit. Times like these seem to compound our ever-growing access to information from all over the world, and then seemingly far more drama than our parents ever had to deal with. All this weighs heavily on us. Especially when our news is so full of horibl-ality to the point where we start to question the motives of the “news: at all. All that aside, we have our daily lives to contend with as well. Let’s say your normal level of stress in a year is … about the size of a Twinkie. According to Ghostbusters and my estimates, this year’s stress would be a Twinkie 35 feet long, weighing approximately 600 pounds. And yet, we did it. We put down what we had to in order to survive and maintain our sanity throughout this giant creme filled golden sponge cake of a year.
But how did we manage? Many, myself included, have used some crutches to let us hobble through our reality of mandated lockdowns, job losses and social separations. Turning to view in hardship to ease the pain and be coping mechanisms is nothing new. However, in 2020 there is no social group for you to fall out of norm with. There is no circle of friends on Friday to be aware of your physical changes, or emotional shifts. We are ALL in the same throws of survival mode. Instead of the village picking you up, we are just finding others that happen to be falling in the same direction and find comfort in the idea that Hey, we ARENT alone.
In order to find heathier, moderated habits of getting on with things, there are a few stages that need to happen in order to make a transition. Making a clean transition is the key. We do not want to create just another diversion, which is just another coping mechanism.
It all starts here. And it may be the hardest or easiest thing to do. If you can evaluate yourself and your habits as they are different from this time last year, and then you say “But COVID”, shrug, and do it anyway, that is the exact behavior we need to identify. Some vices are traditional. Stress eating, drinking, and smoking for example. Our newest might be the desperate need for “social (media) acceptance” or even online purchasing that was even encouraged by our ‘powers that be’.
Identifying some of our coping habits lets us identify not only what we have turned to in our need to seek fulfillment but allows us an opportunity to analyze what is really serving us. Some people have found new levels of confidence performing in front of their phones, not all vices are all bad hence the need to analyze each.
Acceptance and ownership
As I stated above, not all vices that we have embraced are a total loss. If we can learn a little bit about ourselves, then that opportunity should be embraced and added to our collective tool kits. God, I hate that term, let us say that learning is like press. Even bad press is good press. Finding these aspects in our behavior allows us to accept what we have done and gives us a little ease in grace to accept that we have perhaps not been behaving without own best intentions as priority. Survival mode aside, is where we need to return our behaviors and attitudes. We are done surviving; it is certainly time to thrive.
To Make a Death
This is the real tough part. Dealing with the grief of realizing that we are going to have to release our grip on the comfort of using our circumstances of this last year as an excuse to go with the downward spiraling patterns that we held on to as distractions from our augmented reality. Everyone likes a vice or two. Those things that give us a pause for matters of reflection or companionship, excuses to gather, or to be alone. They are comfort. And having identified that excessive comfort is not good for us for so long, we must be ready to say we will miss being in pajamas on the couch on a Wednesday at 2 o’clock in the afternoon, For Work. So, we need to take these negatives and bury them. Jung said “No new life can arise, say the alchemists, without the death of the old. They liken the art to the work of the sower, who buries the grain in the earth: it dies only to waken to new life.” And so, we can take what we decide to change, and use the positive to grow new habits and in turn embrace our new growth.
Give One, Take One
The ‘cold turkey’ method of separating from our coping mechanisms is not for everyone. It is certainly more difficult now when we have less casual social support to lend a hand in accountability, reinforcement, and encouragement. It is still an effort to log into Zoom versus being in the presence of someone in a causal setting who would normally help. Trying to do this on your own is a tough but rewarding choice. And a transition plan is certainly one vector to attaining your desired outcome. By replacing a small aspect of your old behavior, with a sliver of a positive one not only feeds you a reward for good decisions, but it also starts the all-important pattern for habit building. By slowly rewriting your habits, even if “going to the gym” does not sound much like a reward, it in turn CAN and should be rewarded. Hard work is in fact, hard work.
These processes just in themselves aren’t really that easy. You can expect mental, emotional spiritual and even physiological challenges in our personal adaptation. It was easy to fall into a pattern of comfort, so we can surely expect to expect the inverse. We are however very aware of what we are doing this time, and not at the whim of mandates or other outside influences. And we have tools that we can use.
Reflexology can give us insights on what our bodies are actually in need of, and how we can take care of them moving forward. They did just take one for the team, we should be performing some “thank you” maintenance on ourselves.
Teas and Herbs can address some of the physiological effects that our new behaviors may induce. Taking care of your bodies needs in a natural way is cleansing and rewarding on its own.
Essential oils help build relationships with your new patterns and can help reinforce your bodies desire and abilities to heal and be a better version of itself.
Armed with desire, motivation, and a selection of tools, we can take this wintery opportunity to educate, evaluate and eliminate those things that no longer serve us, but helped us to survive up to this point. We are leaving ‘Survival Mode’ in favor of Thrive-All Mode.