So, many of us have been in quarantine for some time now. Are you OK? I have seen, read, and heard reports of some people who are thriving under these conditions. They are learning new skills and talents. Some people have found a greater compassion for humanity and are reaching out and helping others. Some people have deep cleaned their homes. Others are reaching out to friends and acquaintances, some of which we may have lost touch with for a period of time, and are reconnecting. Our dogs are probably getting more walks now than in a long time! These sound like success stories.
There are others among us who are finding these to be extremely trying and difficult times. Perhaps they or a loved one has been suffering from COVID-19. They may have lost a loved one to the pandemic. For others, seeing the loss of people reminds them of the losses they have experienced in their lives, resurfacing unpleasant emotions. Unemployment is hitting many households. For many people it is difficult to be OK when they have no income and are worrying about paying rent, bills, and buying groceries. Business owners are not only concerned about their future, most are concerned about the future of their employees as well as their business. Parents find themselves at home trying to keep the house together, possibly work from home, and home school their children. Each of these is a full-time job!
Whether you find yourself in the first paragraph, in the second paragraph, or some combination of both paragraphs, again I ask, “Are You OK?” How are you feeling? What are your emotional reactions to our current situation? Remember, there are no wrong emotional responses. Emotions are what we feel inside. It is at this time that several Mandt lessons come to mind.
- Affirm the feeling and choose your behavior. It is OK to be sad, happy, confused, agitated, etc. These are all fine emotions. What some people do with these emotions, however, is where the problems arise. Some may choose destructive coping strategies (substance use, unsafe practices, etc.). Ignoring the emotions and choosing destructive coping strategies does not make the situation better. It will not make us OK.
- We all need to practice Assertive and Authentic Communication. Standing up for our point of view while also respecting the rights and beliefs of others is central. If we are not OK and we try to ignore it or hide it, we are not standing up for ourselves. In other words, if we are not OK, it is OK to tell other people that we are not OK and ask for help. Being a martyr, putting everyone else first, ignoring our own needs is neither assertive nor authentic.
- Build positive, healthy relationships. Part of building a positive and healthy relationship is being aware of the people around your life. Are the people in your house OK? Is your extended family OK? Are your neighbors, coworkers, close friends, social acquaintances, etc. OK? It is OK to reach out to people and ask them how they are. Actually, I would suggest it is a very good thing! During this pandemic I have reached out to many people through various channels to check in and many have checked in on me. It took a week and a half for a former co-worker, with whom I have not worked since 1996, to respond to my message and follow up. When she did, she explained how busy she has been and told me everything was fine with her family. We have touched base on social media several times since then. That feels good!
The question this week is “Are You OK?” Every answer you can think of is correct! If you are OK, I’m happy for you! If you are not OK, I’m sorry to hear and is there anything I can do to help?
Dr. Dale Shannon – Mandt Faculty