Have you noticed that everything you love and disdain about yourself and your loved ones is showing up on full display in this COVID chapter? That’s not an accident. This is your brain on stress.
When all of our habits and routines are in a state of harsh disruption, our brain responds. THIS IS A THREAT! RED ALERT! RED ALERT! We’re ALL in some form of survival mode, fight or flight. One big ball of emotions. Those who have worked diligently on mindset and self-awareness are fairing a bit better, but no one is equipped to handle this well. No one.
Survival mode means we retreat to food, water, and safety—everyone gathering all their toilet paper and Cheetos and not much regard for others. I’m not saying you were the toilet paper hoarders personally, I am saying I understand this instinct to hit the basic needs.
This is also why you feel drawn to work more. Yes, partly because you are at home with no separation from work and the office, and also, it’s your survival instincts. Rise for a moment and remind yourself that working harder doesn’t work out like you think it will. Working yourself into a tizzy is not the answer. The adage “work smarter, not harder” applies more than ever. Especially those of you promoted to homeschool teachers during this survival drill.
Your most authentic self shows up in the midst of this—the good, the bad, and the ugly. The same is true for every single person in your house. All of your most real selves there together. Do your very best to acknowledge you’ll be ugly; they’ll be ugly and pile on the grace, love, empathy, and listening.
From Frozen Soundtrack fame, LET IT GO. Yes, you blew up and screamed awful things that were unreasonable, yes they chew too loud, yes your teens won’t listen and are horrible slobs, yes your toddler is the worst, and if they say your name one more time, you’ll explode. Yes.
Two full days last week, I hated everyone that has a dual-income household. I hated you. Unreasonable? Yup. My best me? Nope. Somehow seeing people weathering this storm with two incomes reminded me of my biggest fears about survival. That’s my ugly place. Not proud, just being honest.
I also looked for ways to give from giftedness—simple things I could offer that I’m confident doing. I reached out to women doing this quarantine alone and provided some extra love and support. When we give from a place of our giftedness, our brains say, “Oh look, you’re still valuable and relevant, we must not be dying and that feels good and comforting.” I spoke to a lady last week who does beautiful flower arranging. She called her Kroger florist friend and made a deal to go and pick up loads of flowers. She made beautiful arrangements and delivered them to healthcare worker friends. That’s not frivolous; that’s an essential part of this process as much for you as it is the gift receiver.
Your best and your worst will be on full display. Give everyone loads of grace, space, empathy, and listening. The deepest human need we have is to feel seen, heard, and known. See people for their uniqueness without the filter of your story and your expectations of them. When you 11 year old is in your office eighteen times after you asked them to leave, he’s desperately missing the connection of his friends and teachers in a crowded classroom. They don’t know how to say what they’re feeling; they just want to feel better. When your teenager refuses to speak and doesn’t leave their room, they are mourning the loss of the independence they had grown to love. When your toddler is all up in your business touching you and climbing on you, well, that’s mostly what toddlers do and they are sensing the vibe and wanting more reassurance that everything is okay. These are lessons that will serve us well past the COVID chapter.