In the last nine months, we have been through cataclysmic changes. We have lost loved ones, jobs, and lifestyles to COVID-19. The social upheaval that demands an end to systemic racism has left many of us angry and fearful. Some had to face challenges to their fundamental beliefs. Others have developed only guarded hope about the possibility of change. Lots of us took major financial hits. The pandemic also took away our usual coping strategies. We lost in-person contact with our families, friends, church members, schoolmates, and co-workers. We also lost stress-busting outlets: the gym and our favorite sports, entertainment spots, bars, and eateries. Even though some of us got stimulus and unemployment checks, went virtual for socialization, and felt relief when our activities opened up a bit, it isn’t the same. Now, as COVID-19 surges, we face the uncertainty of whether we will go back to full lockdown, and we fear that neither we nor our economy will survive if we do.
Although these are scary times, The Prison of Silence is only a prison of the mind. Here are some keys to open the door:
- Commit to connection. Chatting by phone or online is better than isolating silence. Arrange socially distant walks or porch conversations. Listen to and support each other. Share your fears, your hopes, and any pockets of joy you’ve found. Also, share your coping strategies.
- Stop avoiding change. Humans will protect sameness above our safety and sanity. We will even protect the comfort of familiar discomfort. When you resist change, you close off opportunities to thrive. Even after the virus passes, many things will never be the same. Courage is not the Absence of Fear. Even if you’re scared, you gotta be willing to try something new.
- Cultivate an attitude of gratitude. What IS working? What HAS NOT gone wrong? For example, I am grateful that I lost only one loved one to this pandemic. I’m glad that I can use a mask instead of a ventilator. I’ve finally had time to really look at my situation, sit, think, and plan my next life moves.
- Remember what your grandmother told you: “This, too shall pass.” “Trouble don’t last always.” “We go THROUGH not just IN.”
A good friend also told me, “To live is to change. To live well is to change frequently.” All change starts as discomfort but only for a time. After the pain comes growth and freedom. Let’s help each other get out of prison. We’ve got this!
Escape from the Prison of Silence and Courage is Not the Absence of Fear are affirmations in my book, Dear Lauren, Love Mom: 31 Days of Affirmations for My Daughter, for Myself, and for YOU. The book is available on Amazon.com. Give copies to everyone you love and want to encourage, and make sure one of those people is YOU. Photo by Dr. Brackette F. Williams.