With a request from the surgeon to keep my leg elevated for two weeks, I have found myself in a place of stationary opportunity to finish projects that had been left unfinished. Dr. Julie Ponesse’s book, My Choice, was one of those projects. Upon completion, she left me pondering how we, as a society, move forward from our collective pandemic experience.
With my grief work I am currently witnessing a society that appears to have lost hope. We seem to be collectively lost, which perhaps is leaving us with a feeling of despondency and perhaps even a lack of motivation. This leaves us with the question of how do we begin to move forward?
To begin moving forward I think we must take a moment to look backwards. What many do not realize is the pandemic has triggered unresolved emotions, which for some has led to the feelings of grief.
What do I mean?
If you filter the pandemic through the following definitions of grief, I think it will become clearer to you. For example, grief is the normal and natural reaction when we experience the loss of a loved one. It is the conflicting feelings brought about by a change in something that was familiar. Grief can be the result of things in our lives that we wish had been better, different, or more; our unrealized hopes, dreams, and expectations; and perhaps the things that have been left unsaid or unheard.
Over the past 2.5 years we have seen our normal ripped away from us. Some of us have lost loved ones and some of us are having to face changes in our lives that we never expected to face. Others may have unrealized dreams, those things we wished had been different. And yet for others they may have felt their voices had been silenced.
I know for myself, I rode a rollercoaster of emotions in regards to the pandemic until I sat down and walked myself through the Grief Recovery Method process. Not only was I able to identify the source of my stress but I was also able to put a name to the emotions I was feeling, to sort out my confusion, and I was able to resolve the unresolved emotions of grief that had accompanied my pandemic experience.
During the grief recovery process I made two major discoveries. First, I was surprised at how many positives had happened over the last 2.5 years. I was also surprised to learn the source of my stress. I spend my days communicating with others: listening, and being listened to. I discovered my stress had been triggered by the fact we could no longer hear one another. We were no longer invited into discussions or a friendly debates. There was a division, a feeling of being judged no matter what side of the narrative we resided.
The magic of the Grief Recovery Method process didn’t let me down. Not only was I able to identify and process my experience, I diffused the triggers. I was able to step off the rollercoaster and take back control of my emotions. The pandemic experience no longer controlled me. Even though my external circumstances had not changed, the emotional chaos I was experiencing internally was simply silenced and I was once again able to go on with my day.
My first suggestion, in rebuilding after the last 2.5 years, might be to begin with the Grief Recovery Method program. To be able to process what you are feeling today and to be able to complete any other incomplete relationships or events that may have happened in your past. This allows you a clean slate to move forward.
My next suggestion might be to hit the pause button. To step away from social media, the news, papers and TV. These forms of media constantly bombard our nervous system with fear, anxiety, and doom. It is very difficult to hear our own voice over the narrative.
Take some time to be by yourself, perhaps a walk in nature, a coffee on your back deck, a walk around your neighborhood, a canoe or kayak trip, anything that allows you to reconnect to your center. It is here in the silence that you are able to reconnect with your own inner guidance system, void of the distractions and the chaos of the external world.
This is a good time to learn or reconnect with the practice of meditation. Another way to silence the chaos. Keeping a journal allows you to record your inner thoughts for reflection at a later time.
This is also an opportunity for you to reconnect with your own personal value system, to decide for yourself what goals you want to set, and how these goals align with how you personally see the world.
If you remain unclear in regards to your skills and values I might suggest a personality assessment. This is a great way to separate who you are from “the who” others expect you to be.
Most of all be kind and patient with yourself for being in the silence and the stillness, without the distractions, is not something most of us are used to.
Finally, there is a suggestion to rebuild your community. Ponesse speaks of our need to reconnect, “We need to be gracious towards each other because grace helps us to employ a principle of charity when we approach each other. It also opens the possibility of curiosity which requires empathy or a presumption that there might be some value in another person’s thoughts.”
I echo her suggestion to embrace our ability to respectfully communicate with an eagerness to learn; with an openness, curiosity, and a genuine interest to understand. Be the example you want to see in the world. Set the example of an active listener, inviting others to share their particular point of view. Separation is destructive to society, any society. Finding a common ground is critical as we begin to move forward.
Ponesse makes the suggestion of reengaging in literature and the arts. She quotes Walt Whiteman who wrote, “The literature, songs, ethics, etc., of a country are of importance principally because they furnish the materials and suggestions of personality for the women and men of that country, and enforce them in a thousand effective ways”
Ponesse reminds us, “How well a society endures a crisis or rebounds from one would seem to say a lot about how strong it was when it entered the crisis….Wouldn’t we be more likely to weather a crisis well, and to recover from it, if we had more flexibility and more resilient?”
Perhaps one of the greatest benefits of the past 2.5 years is that it has provided us an opportunity to see what was working and perhaps what areas of society require change.
I believe by processing our emotions, engaging in self-reflection, knowing who we really are and reconnecting with our purpose, unlearning and relearning, and allowing ourselves to reconnect with those in our community we can create our best opportunities for moving forward. Moving forward with a hopeful confidence, courage, and motivation to map out a new direction.
Immanuel Kant once said, “Have courage to use your own understanding – that is the motto of enlightenment.” Ponesse concludes, “If Kant is right, it seems that we first need the freedom to use our own reason in order to have an enlightenment; freedom to reason for oneself is not the product of the enlightenment, but it’s prerequisite.”
Tammy Adams, Certified Coach Practitioner offering support, in-person or online, Canada-wide. She is certified in The Grief Recovery Method®, Personality Dimensions™, Reiki, Access Bars®, and Mindfulness. To learn more about the services she offers, book a 20-minute free phone consult, or visit her service tab on her website at http://tadams.ca