Stronger, Also Softer, in This COVID-19 Season
Updated: Jun 18, 2020
Quarantine continues. The pendulum between easing into this new normal and panicking about where or how it will end keeps swinging side to side, taking our emotion and well-being to opposite extremes day after day. If you’re like me, some days feel surprisingly good, packed with motivated altruism to engage my life with intentionality. Others feel exhaustingly tiring, causing me to scratch my head because it does not feel like I did anything to merit such fatigue. Some days I find myself connected to loved ones, grateful for technology. Yet others leave me feeling like I want to backflop into isolated oblivion where no one can find me.
Thus, the battle for thriving despite our context continues. The threat of numbing out as we await our freedom rather than searching what this season might hold for us grows. When we do not feel connected to ourselves, we cannot heal. When we are in survival mode, we cannot repair. When we do not feel safe, we cannot mend. COVID-19 has launched many of us into perpetual fight or flight responses, eliminating any options to recuperate or grow during this unique time. My therapist friend Amy Au reminded me recently that the Himalayan mountains in India are visible for the first time in decades because of the factory shut-downs due to Coronavirus. She asked herself, like the Northern Indians, what is now visible in my life that I could not previously see because of the routine busyness?
That question has invited me back into a new mantra that I have adopted during this quarantine season: stronger, softer. I am tuning into this fresh posture that I want to embrace during this time. May I become stronger this season. May I hold clients, my family, myself, and my friends with greater ease than ever before. May I also become softer. May I remain tender and impacted by the plight of our world, of the poor, of the elderly. May I not become calloused or hardened. When I am exhausted and discouraged, that is my mountain view. I am becoming softer and stronger this season.
I pose the same question to you: what is your guiding mountain view?
I am staying connected and staying present
My anxiety has something to teach me
My loneliness invites me to love myself
I am safe
I am more than my productivity
It is okay to rest
I am becoming stronger and softer
These are not commitments to perfection or more production. If you’re like me, you feel weak some days, and cold to your loved ones on others. The mountain view - just imagine the clarifying one we all have in our Denver setting - is like a windshield wiper-blade during a snowstorm. When I realize I am hardened, I gently swipe away the hardness in my heart, and come back to my commitment to be soft. It won’t be a complete shift out of one state and into another. Simply think of these mindful moments as a drop of water on parched land. It might need more than this one minute, but this minute of nurturance still matters.
How might you engage your mountain view in a nurturing way today?