This new normal we're getting used to is pretty strange isn't it? I've heard the word surreal used a lot lately as many of us get to grips with lockdown in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. It goes some way to explaining the bewildered looks on people's faces as they wander around supermarkets considering this new reality where shelves are suddenly empty, at least here in the UK. And as we all wake up to a world where nothing feels the same, but outside the sun is still shining and the birds keep on singing as if nothing has changed, surreal just about covers it.
So how do we adapt to these changes, however temporary, and how do we navigate our way back to feeling normal when everything around us feels anything but?
Accept discomfort - it will pass
The first step is to accept that it is entirely natural and normal to feel uncomfortable emotions right now. It is also okay and normal not to like any of what is going on. Yes, it is good to be positive, to remain upbeat and try to find the silver lining in the face of what feels scary, but that comes later.
In order to remain positive, we must accept all those uncomfortable and darker feelings first. Sweeping negative emotions under the carpet does not make them go away.
"What we resist, persists" - Carl Jung
What we resist, persists. Carl Jung explained. The easiest way to deal with a negative emotion is to look it squarely in the face and call it by its name.
EXERCISE ONE: Today, I feel....?
Grab a pen and a piece of paper and list everything you are feeling right now, in this moment. Where does it sit in your body? Get in touch with what the feeling is? Is it covering another deeper emotion? Sit quietly with this feeling and accept that it doesn't feel good - you can't will it away, you can't fight it, you can only accept it.
- Tell yourself, everyone feels sad/frustrated/angry sometimes, everyone hurts.
- Tell yourself, it is okay to feel bad.
- Remind yourself that feeling negative emotions will allow them to pass more quickly and easily. Noticing them makes them smaller.
- Tell yourself it will pass.