By Deborah Marini, Certified Youth and Adult Mental Health First Aid Instructor~
“Everyone around me seems to be learning lessons”
“Everyone around me is growing” …But I just feel…numb
If you identify with any of the above statements you are not alone.
What makes some rise to the top and see these times as an impetus to propel forward and learn while others slide by in a state of fog waiting for the answers that never come?
It all comes down to the patterns we have established before this…and they are ALL good!
We are all born with a unique “purpose” and gifts that are our own. We have all created our own safe reality. Yes, we may meet others whose goals align with ours, but our paths are different due to life experiences along the way that shaped our belief system. These beliefs also determine how much others influence us in a healthy way … or not.
So, how you react without social connection depends on what beliefs you had before!
Using Independent and Dependent personalities or labels as an example (I call it a label because labels can be removed and doesn’t define who we are permanently) I’ll explain what I mean.
Most Independent people have learned to derive their purpose from within. Most are driven and self-motivated, so it makes sense that their initial reaction to the social distancing and the crisis is to tap into their own resilience. You see them rising to the top during this challenge and looking at new ways to achieve their purpose. This does NOT mean they don’t experience periods of struggle! What it does mean is they are less likely to be dependent on their external surroundings to drive or influence how they behave or determine their value. They see the world around them as an enhancement to who they are not a driver. But this can cause isolation.
On the other hand, most Dependent people have accumulated tools and processes that rely on external surroundings. Most possess a strong sense of empathy toward how others may be feeling. They operate or act independently but use their surroundings to instinctively arrive at what is needed and jump to action. As a result, being cut off socially leaves them floundering for direction. They search for their own resilience feeling lost.
The stress, for both personality types, of needing to find a new way can create a numbness. To reboot and change patterns requires time. The numbness is not denial but time needed to allow yourself to adapt and redefine how you will be moving forward.
Let’s compare it to how, every day, you drive the same way to work or school. One day there is a detour.
If there are signs you know how to go…
But if not, you may feel lost for a bit and it may take longer…but you WILL get there!
Whether independent and trying to learn to be there for others, or dependent and trying to learn to go within…you eventually find your way through this detour.
What can we do to keep grounded?
Accept- be ok with not being ok.
Allow yourself time- YOU say how long you need. This is not a race.
Find new tools to cope that work for you…find what works.
Reframe your negative thoughts… This can be difficult but here is a tool I use…
Whenever I am feeling alone, I picture the amusement park rifle game where you have targets that move in front of you as well as a stationary tree with a bullseye.
On my great days, I’m in my zone and hitting every moving target!
On the bad days, I still play, I just aim for the tree. You don’t earn as many points when you hit it but you’re still in the game!
We accept that on some days we just can’t emotionally “hit” where others are and go for the steady bullseye. These are the people around us that we align with emotionally. They remind us we are not alone in how we feel. There is always someone feeling the same way you do! Use them to ground yourself!
In the end…our purpose is our seed… so let’s fertilize it with kindness.