Testing our foundations

For the majority of us, we are heading into week five of lock down. Those in New York and California are on week six.

I wonder how you are faring?

The first week felt like hurricane preparation. Massive uncertainty and collective panic led to preparation in the ways we knew how. I bought canned goods, cough drops and natural immune boosters. I swore off alcohol and sugar to build my immune system, and doubled my exercise.

By week three, I was overloaded by anxiety and fear. It felt a lot like how I handled the approach of hurricane Dorian last summer. An impending sense of doom led to me to a downward spiral of what-ifs. By then, I had reached a more moderate approach to immune building and was enjoying the small joys of life like homemade chocolate chip cookies and an evening glass of wine.

As we head into week five, I’m curious how this one will manifest. Now certain that social distancing, remote work, and furloughs will be with us for the coming months, my hope is that the next couple of weeks is when we have some respite to make sense of all the emotions we’ve felt since early March.

We seem to have reconciled the fact that life was over-scheduled. Yet, by now, we’ve come to the end of the obvious choices for spending our time and we’re about to tap into the next layer of our creativity.

We’re also positioned to have some time for deeper introspection.

Just this morning, I read an article from McKinsey & Co. about what’s next for our world. The context was business, but the application is also personal.

It said:

  • “The crisis will reveal not just vulnerabilities but opportunities to improve…”
  • “… The result: a stronger sense of what makes business more resilient to shocks…”

COVID-19 has revealed our own personal vulnerabilities. In my case, I never realized how susceptible I am to the gravitational pull of ‘what if…’ imaginings. While ‘what if’ is an important step for preparation, the power of ‘what ifs…’ in my life is over-weighted during times of stress.

What vulnerabilities have you discovered?

Awareness of our vulnerabilities gives us opportunity to strengthen our soft spots. There’s no shame in the fissures, but there is now an opportunity to strengthen our foundations and get ready for the next shock.

Early in this pandemic crisis, I was speaking with some friends about how our Baby Boomer (1946-1964) and Silent Generation (1925-1945) parents seemed to be weathering this much better than we.

Perhaps it’s because they’ve had more challenges and more chances to find the vulnerabilities and do the work of resilience.

Maybe it’s because they grew up on the heels of WWII and were well-aware of how close we are at all times to events that are “unimaginable”.

So, as we head into week five, we do so with much more awareness of our vulnerabilities (at least the ones we’ve encountered thus far). We also have no better time to mine our hearts for the ways we can build resilience to the shocks yet to come.

I, for one, have never been more cognizant of the paradox that an encounter with our own fragility is the essential step towards true strength.

My prayer for you this week is that it is one of gentle discovery — processing what you’ve learned so far and taking small mini-steps to edify one or two of your soft spots…all done with deep self-compassion and self-care.

*Image credit: Image by PublicDomainPictures from Pixabay

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