By Julia Samuel/ The Guardian
Having meaningful, connected relationships means we live longer; are healthier, wealthier, happier; and even have less pain as we grow old. Love is strong medicine. But love requires time. It cannot survive on a thin diet of scant conversations and transactional decisions. We need time to move towards each other, to openly connect and be together. It takes time to unravel and resolve misunderstandings and fights, time to repair after a fight, which is the foundation of trusting relationships. Will we embed this understanding of how important connection is, post-lockdown? It is hard to resist falling back into old patterns, but my guess is that the painful mark of the absence of connection will lead to boldness in wanting to live differently.
One of the key aspects of post-traumatic growth is that it changes our perception of what matters, and amplifies our gratitude for small things and for simply being alive. There is nothing like a health pandemic to raise awareness of our mortality and the mortality of those we love. People have had more conversations about death and dying in the past year than in their entire lifetimes, and paradoxically it has meant we value life more. It has radically altered our vision of ourselves and the future we hope for. Many of our concerns about performance and achievement have diminished in recognition that meaning in life is a more substantive goal.
At the other end of the spectrum, it has rejuvenated our joy in small things. Who would have thought hugging a friend and sitting down to supper with them in a cafe would feel like the greatest gift? We must strive never to take that for granted as we go forward.
The process of unlocking is likely to be tricky for some. I have clients who are fearful that they won’t know how to socialise any more; they have fogo – fear of going out. One of my most successful clients, who used to fly regularly, was shocked to feel a spike of fear when her colleague said she needed to meet him in Germany. The prospect of commuting and the busyness of office life is filling many with dread. The key to manage it is to support yourself in it, not to fight it. Turn to yourself with compassion and name your fears. Allow them. Breathe. Write them down. Go slowly, don’t push yourself; go to the edge of your comfort zone in small steps. Give yourself credit for getting there, and when that feels easy, push yourself to try something else. It will take time.
We would not have chosen to have this experience, and yet we must not waste the opportunity to learn what it has given us. If we have the courage to face our insight with self-compassion, to learn to know ourselves rather than distract ourselves, then change will bring growth.
A guided reflection on change
Get a notebook and write down your answers, or talk to someone you trust and take it in turns to explore these questions.
What has changed?
In your relationship with yourself? Your relationships with friends and family? Your relationships with work and with health – and any other important aspect of your life?
From those changes…
Which ones would you like to keep? How might you support yourself to embed them? This will include what you say to yourself, as well as your habits and decisions.
What are the things likely to get in the way?
Remember, small steps can have big outcomes
Picture yourself in a year’s time, after you have adapted and transitioned into the version of yourself and your life that you wish for. How would that feel? What would your belief about yourself be? Keep a list; make a mood board or Pinterest board of images that will inspire you in the weeks and months ahead. Add to it and change it, as you adapt and change.
LEAVE A COMMENT Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked*
Fitness enthusiast cycles to motivate
Will intermittent fasting boost my energy levels?
Unexplained, unexpected and unplanned
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
Ramadan habits ‘key to balanced lifestyle’
Tips for fitness fans during Ramadan
How many hugs does a person need daily?
Happily ever after