Nancy Goodman, LCSW provides counseling through her practice, A Parent Connection. She sent this suggested activity via email today, and it resonates with me as a mindful way for us to grow during this time. I thought some of you might find it supportive. I share it here with her permission.
As we continue to live in this odd, unsustainable time, we have a unique opportunity to learn some things about ourselves. To that end, here’s a writing suggestion for you to work on over the next few weeks or however long this lasts. It is designed to be a work-in-progress kind of writing exercise, so maybe keep it somewhere where you can add to it every few days or every week.
I’m picturing one page, front and back. On each side, draw a line down the middle so you have 4 columns total, then label the columns:
There may be overlaps, but each column title might bring to mind different aspects of all this. Judgment-free is key! No one has to know what you like and don’t like about our current situation. You will not be publicly shamed for being bummed that you have to work while others wish they could, or if you frankly despise having to being around children all day and night or if you are in heaven and could live like this for the rest of your life.
The exercise is for you to get clarity about who you are and what is meaningful to you, what is hard for you, what you need and what you really don’t want. My hope is that when we all start to create a new normal, that we do it consciously.
The human tendency will be to fall back into the way we’ve always done things or to mindlessly run out to get what we haven’t been able to have, whether we really want it back or not. (I just keep picturing millions of Americans flocking to Disneyland the moment it opens just because they can!) Not that there’s anything wrong with that–unless we do it unconsciously because we don’t have our more personal vision to pick from.
If we take advantage of this once-in-a-lifetime time as something that has created a quasi-clean slate in many of our lives, we can choose a little more consciously to:
…work more, or work differently, or work less…to spend different kinds of time with friends and family…to learn more online or be online significantly less…to garden more or shop more efficiently less often or cook more or eat out more…we might walk the dog somewhere new from now on because we see more or less of the neighbors…we might be ready to quit this job and look for a new one or we may have to look for a new one and so look for something more fitting…we might realize we need marriage counseling or parenting coaching…we might want to spend more time alone in the basement or more time living together in the main part of the house….we might decide we will be more fulfilled if we are more involved in our community from now on or might realize that we’ve been spread too thin and are much higher functioning when we lay low.
Big changes, little changes. Now’s the time for awareness about all that. The more ideas we have now, the easier and more committed we might be in a few weeks or so when things start to open up and either suck us or invite us back in again.