Part 1 - Many people are faced with something far more scary then the coronavirus. Being confined with the people they care about most 24/7.
We're beginning to see how distracted we've been from our lives and relationships. Those long work hours for many of us are no more. Bars, malls, stores, restaurants, you name it, closed. What do we have left without these distractions? Being confined with the people we're closest to and basically having no where to run and no where to hide when emotions begin to surface due to confinement. Where do you begin to handle those emotions and preserve those relationships in the midst of a pandemic that's forced us to be with our favorite people 24/7?
Here are a few tips that just might be what you need to help get you through these tough times.
One of the reasons Covid-19 outbreak spread so quickly is initially it was not taken seriously enough to implement an appropriate response by our government officials. Once it was and guidelines issued, many still don't accept it and the number of infections continues to rise. The new reality of our world today is that we must accept what's happening in order to accept the conditions required to slow the spread. Stay home. Accept that, together, we're all prisoners of the Coronavirus in one way or another.
2. Monitor your emotions
A big part of prison life is you can't go anywhere and you see the same people all day every day. With our routines altered, home becomes our prison and Covid-19 our jailers. Without the usual distractions of our daily life we can become bored, frustrated, lonely, angry and stressed. These are the real prison.
There is evidence that people in quarantine are more likely to report symptoms of depression, anxiety and post traumatic stress. According to Elaine Yarborough, A Conflict Resolution Specialist, when you come into conflict with others confined with you, the first step is to look inward with the purpose in mind to become aware of the emotions your experiencing. Think carefully about what you want and feel before saying what your emotions would have you say. It may sound good and valid in your head, and even sound that way when you first spoke them only to find out from your loved one's reaction, those words should've never left your lips.
Be aware of what you're feeling to learn the difference between what is happening now and what is related to old baggage or grief over the loss of your social life. Without this clarity, it will be your emotions, the playground of the ego, holding you prisoner, not the confinement, and the ones you care about become your enemy, not the coronavirus.
"We create our reality for better or worse, depending on the choices we make. It’s like that old joke. A wife comes home and finds her husband with another woman. He tells her it’s not what she thinks. She shouts, “I caught you cheating on me with my own eyes.” He challenges her with, “Who you gonna believe, me or your lyin eyes?” Here is the choice. Truth, or illusion? We’re faced with choosing between the two on a daily basis. (Escape from Insanity Illusions and Lies)"
So before making a big deal about dirty dishes left in the sink, or the wrong item being picked up at the grocery store, express what you're really feeling instead. I know a lot of people aren't good at it, but if you and your loved ones are to get through this, this is an excellent time to learn and become better at it. Open and honest communications is key.
3. Get out of your own way
If emotional distress is the playground of the ego, then the rowdy angry voices of little kids on the playground is the language of the ego. When you're in a close and committed relationship, realize that for many of you, your relationship will be tested. The chances of projecting your emotions outward onto others is very high and increases the longer you shelter in place. With honest and open communications your relationship can deepen and become more satisfying and move you closer to each other, making your confinement, not just tolerable, but even pleasant. This is side stepping fear, getting out of your own way and allowing your authentic self to step forward. This means quieting the rowdy voices of the little playground kids to gain the proper perspective. When times get tense and on the verge of conflict ask yourself this question. Do you want to be right, or do you want to be happy.
4. How our relationships can make the difference
When you're in a close committed relationship and now find yourself confined with that
person, chances are your relationship will be tested. This could be the opportunity to build on, practice and improve your relationship skills. If your relationship was struggling before now, confinement may present the chance to make needed repairs and get things back on track. If you feel your relationship is beyond repair and confinement imposed by this pandemic confirmed this, make no decisions now and get very clear that your reasons are unrelated to the confinement your experiencing that will eventually pass. When conflicts do arise A Course in Miracles (ACIM) (Psychotherapy pamphlet) offers skills, I cover in my book, that can be very helpful in working through conflicts.
Listening – hear the emotions behind the words
Expressiveness (communicate) - the ability to communicate our emotional experience, Love or fear, joy or pain
Objectivity (suspend judgement) - for you can judge but only the surface and not the depth of the internal condition of people or situations
Defenselessness - demonstrate that strength lies in defenselessness, not attack
Forgiveness, which will be addressed in depth later.
Prayer- psychotherapy is a form prayer
Healing (not for all, but all can in accordance with their gifts, skills, talents, special knowledge and appropriate experiences)
(From, Escape from Insanity Illusions and Lies)
If more is needed to help gain this clarity and perhaps clarity on other issues, the objectivity of a third party, a psychotherapist or counselor could be a very helpful consult. You don't even have to leave home. Skype, Zoom or other video conferencing apps can bring therapists and counselors right into your living room to help you work through these issues.
Now more than ever, we must understand how important our relationships are and how much we need them. The ACIM tells us that when escaping illusions things don’t necessarily change, but how we view them, or a change in how we perceive them does, allowing us to make different choices. We must recognize that in the situation the world is in right now, different choices, choices we may not have even considered last year, can make the biggest difference now in how we handle our relationships.
When conflicts do come up, and they will during this period of sheltering in place, we have a chance to practice forgiveness. Over the years, I've learned that forgiveness is not just a religious practice, but a spiritual principle that is of our spiritual nature. Forgiveness is like a consciousness eraser. It's like when you spill red wine on a white table cloth. The longer it sits the harder it is to get the stain out. The longer we let an unforgiveness set in our consciousness, the harder it is to erase the stain it leaves, so the sooner we forgiveness, the better. The practice of forgiveness helps to remove negative energy and promote the positive environment our relationships need to survive, no thrive, despite our confinement.
6. Single mindedness
Finding things to disagree about is very easy after being confinement for an extended period of time, and not knowing how much longer it will be doesn't help. As a matter of fact, if you're not vigilant they'll find you. Look for, instead, those things you can agree on, creating a single minded focus, or joining. Whether it be agreeing on a movie or, meals you can enjoy together, for example. Brainstorm ideas to create something new, fun and different. Or, what about those things you enjoyed together once, and for some reason you don't do anymore? The point is, make a conscious effort to join over those things on which you can agree. It could make those things on which you don't always agree a little easier to resolve.
Two of the biggest things, you can agree on, is supporting the stay home guidelines to slow the spread of Covid-19, and how conflicts will be handled when they arise and stick to the plan.
These tips can certainly be helpful in leading to strengthening and enriching your relationships and get you through these tough and unpredictable times. However our current crisis turns out, we will be forever changed. Whether good or bad, or for better or worse is up to you, to all of us. Escape from the Land of IIL (pronounced ILL) to the love of those we're confined with, despite the prison in which we all find ourselves.
In the end, it comes down to one thing, we are love and the only place to escape to while we’re here, is a life we love to live.
(From, Escape from Insanity Illusions and Lies).
In part 2, the focus will shift to family life and relationships. You won't want to miss that.
Resources drawn on for this article;