As the COVID-19 pandemic begins to wane and things start to open up more, I’ve been thinking a lot about not wanting to go back to the way things were in the “before times”. Life before the pandemic was a bit nuts - so many activities, so many miles and hours logged in my car, so many social events that I may or may not have really wanted to attend. There were many times I felt exhausted and would have preferred to rest, but instead pushed through. Why?
When I got curious about this, I started to recognize several parts of myself that either felt obligated or felt the need to please someone else, often at the expense of my own well being. And sometimes my parts felt ambivalent or confused, holding those conflicting emotions alongside my sense of duty. Sometimes I had no choice but to motor through. (Sure, I might rather be watching Netflix and eating an ice cream cone, but someone had to pick the kids up from school!)
If you’re reading this maybe you’re thinking, “Yeah, me too. It was crazy before, and then the pandemic hit and everything STOPPED. There has to be a happy medium.” I know I don’t want to go back to the way things were in the beginning of the pandemic - I want to be able to get together with the ones I love, minus all the fear. But I’m going to be more choosy now about how I spend my time. (Yes, my love language is quality time.) Maybe you’re thinking, “Yeah right. Easier said than done.” I agree! It’s going to take intentionality, deliberateness and practice. Here’s how I’m approaching my post-pandemic non-PUSHing-through life:
I’m going to get CURIOUS with my obligated and people-pleasing parts and find out why they might be trying to get me to do whatever it is (go to an event, etc.). What are they worried will happen if I bow out?
When I feel tired, burnt out, exhausted, I’m going to REST. Here’s where I remind you/me: don’t let perfect be the enemy of good. Rest comes in many different forms: sleeping, yes, but also reading, staring out the window, taking a walk, drawing - anything that gives your CREATIVITY free reign so your thinking mind gets a break. Hopefully being choosier will prevent future burnout and exhaustion, but let’s face it, I’m human and not perfect. Rest.
If I’m ambivalent or confused, I’m going to extend some COMPASSION to those parts and again, get CURIOUS about what they need from me to make a decision that feels right.
If I need help with any of this, I’m going to ASK FOR HELP. Sometimes it’s helpful to get some reflection and some compassion from someone else who doesn’t feel quite as emotionally invested and might be able to offer some PERSPECTIVE.
So, instead of just pushing through the feelings of discomfort, I’m going to slow down and LISTEN. I don’t know what I’ll hear, but I do know it will be helpful.
You don’t have to go it alone. If you are finding yourself in need of someone to help you start to listen to your own inner world, we are here to help at Family Tree Wellness. Here’s to a new post-pandemic year, with less PUSHing, less exhaustion and more compassion for ourselves and each other.
Written by Rebecca Geshuri, LMFT, PMH-C