I’m writing this at 5 in the morning, the house is quiet. I’m sitting on the couch with the cat on my lap… balancing the laptop awkwardly on a pillow next to me.
Can I get real with you?
I’ve been feeling sad lately.
I sometimes tell myself that I don’t “deserve” to feel this way because so many others have much less than I do; so many other people are hurting more.
But when I get quiet, I see how sad and worried I’ve been feeling about the pandemic as we go back into lockdown.
Can you relate?
This morning I reminded myself what Viktor Frankl said in Man’s Search for Meaning:
“When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.
Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.
Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”
Here’s the thing I had forgotten until a few days ago.
I get to choose my response. I can choose what to notice.
Maybe you’ve already figured this out. Maybe it all sounds trite to you.
But I’d forgotten to look for the good in our current situation.
I’d forgotten that I have choice and agency.
There are good things happening in my family.
We will have good memories of this time.
There is good happening in the world.
It’s not perfect… but good can be found in even the dark places.
I can choose to change myself.
I started looking for the good.
Here are 3 steps to move from sadness to gratitude:
1. Ask yourself, “What are the good things happening in my life and in my family right now?”
We have a natural tendency to focus on what is going wrong. Focussing on the good changes your brain and will shift your experience of life.
2. List all the good things to come out of the pandemic and all the things that you’re grateful for.
These can be little or big things. Here are examples… No more morning rush to get kids to school. Don’t have to clean the toilet because no guests coming! Don’t have to worry about kids eating a healthy lunch. Birds singing. Exercising outside and watching the sunrise.
3. Talk about your good things to others and ask them to share their good things.
Talking to others makes it “real”. Talking reinforces what you’ve learned for yourself. And it will brighten other people’s day too!
In closing, I wanted to share the story of a single mom of a high needs son in the Philippines, who has found the good in the pandemic.
Sharon (not her real name) shared this story in The Village community,
“I would say [the pandemic] is the opportunity for my 4-year old son and me to build our connection, which is priceless.
Online learning doesn’t sit well with a sensory seeker who can’t stay in one place… There were triggers along the way–attention triggers, aversion to his camera, and mic being on, possible auditory sensitivity… Thankfully, his teachers are understanding about it and acknowledge his presence just the same… I log on… during the art activities and do them with him partly as my own way of de-stressing. It’s my way of inviting him to interact with our art supplies without making it feel like he has to “perform” in front of the screen…
In terms of sustained attention for circle time and storytelling, it’s not for someone who would rather jump on the trampoline for 30 minutes or so. The occupational therapist suggested I break up the activities throughout the day, and so far, it’s been better…
I did freak out when we stopped Occupational Therapy and Speech Therapy during the first few months of lockdown. I had strong feelings like “I’m not trained for that!”, plus the added responsibility, on top of homeschooling. Trial teletherapy didn’t work out, either, so I’m the one who’s on the coaching calls with the therapists, and I do the implementing. Over the months, I’ve come to accept that it will be like this for a while…
I don’t think I would have understood sensory processing, or taken the time to read up outside of this pandemic or attend online conferences focusing on parenting. I was able to spend time getting to know how my child was dealing with self-regulation, why the meltdowns happened, and how to make him feel safe, emotionally, and physically. [This time together] made me understand what he may be going through, how his body works, what his body needs… It also helped improve how we connect and communicate. He is beginning to request more and say more words little by little. Being given this time on account of the pandemic is truly the biggest blessing that would come out of this global crisis.”
Now it’s your turn. I’d love to hear from you. Leave a comment and tell me the best thing that has come out of the pandemic for you.