I have to confess: I’ve been on both sides of what I am about to share with you.
First, the side that I am on right now: the emotional side. The hurting and then the healing side. The mental load side. When you’re on this side, you are afraid to speak up. You try to solve your problems on your own because you are either:
a) afraid people will judge you for speaking up
b) think people will label you forever by your pain, hurt, or past
c) both of the above
Which one is it?
As you read this, I know you are carrying something emotional.
I know that there is a part of your past or current situation that hurts you. That concerns you. That frightens you.
- The person that hurt you.
- The person you lost.
- The hurtful words from your past.
- That job you lost.
- The one who got away.
- The dream you didn’t chase.
- That time you felt like a fraud or failure.
I don’t know what it is, but after about an hour with anyone, I eventually watch them open up to me about the extra weight they are putting in their emotional back-up and carrying around with them everything they go.
You try to bury the back-pack, but it comes back. How does that happen?
You try to fix the patches, but the glue wears off. Why won’t this stay fixed with this super glue?
You try to find a new backpack, but somehow – the old stuff fits in this new one just the same. Why does everything return like that?
I’ve learned that you can’t run from your past or bury things down. They will always come back up.
I’ve learned that you can’t put bandaids on broken hearts.
I’ve learned that you can’t buy yourself out of your problems. You can’t out-achieve the trauma and pain of your past.
If you are on this side with me, you might have a hard time with what’s going on in the world. You are frightened and scared about this virus, your health, your loved ones, your job, the global economy, and even complete strangers.
I told my best friend yesterday, “I feel like our world is experiencing The Spanish Flu, The Great Depression, and war all at once.”
So, what’s happened since Tuesday?
- Indiana had our first death from Covid-19. This won’t be the last and that makes me sad.
- My friends in Richmond are crying as they post videos and message me because they are closing their small businesses. I cried with them.
- Big organizations are likely to start seeing massive layoffs and shutting their doors. Some businesses won’t survive.
- Trump is working to release a stimulus package for our economy, especially industries struggling the most like Travel and Hospitality.
- Part of this package is looking to provide families with $1,000 checks soon.
- Trump said we are “at war” with Covid-19.
- We don’t have enough tests. Many people have Covid-19, but we don’t know it because we don’t have tests. If every city in this country had tests, we would see MASSIVE increases in the numbers reporting data. But we don’t have the data. People are dying and getting sick and we will never know their story. There is just not enough data to correlate the symptoms in non-vulnerable populations because those people are least prioritized with testing too.
- The median viral shedding time is 22 days with a max of 30 days. Meaning, you have the capability of exposing others to the virus during this time – THIS IS WHY SOCIAL DISTANCING IS SO DAMN IMPORTANT!
- From my best friend, “There are currently two different strains of the virus, which demonstrates that this virus mutates quickly. This sounds concerning (and it is), but there is a doctor for immunology and vaccine development. He is predicting that even though it is mutated, he is hopeful we will have developed immunity to the virus for a least a couple of years, especially into next year so we don’t face the same problems.” –> This is what she wrote me when I said, “I wonder if this ever steps? Like, is this an every year thing now?”
- A major winter storm is coming toward the US – winter weather advisory advisors are coming up, while other states are having possible tornado warnings. In Indiana, we could have both warnings on the same day.
So, add all of those above developments with any pain or hurt that you are already carrying, and your backpack is probably immobile. Can you even lift it up?
Now is the time to dig deep inside yourself to get the root of what’s hurting you.
Stay off social media most of the day. Now is the time to end the mindless scrolling.
Only check the news a few times a day.
Play music to get yourself a break from the TV – favorite songs and explore new songs. Music has been so healing for me this past year.
Go for a walk. Move your body. Change your mind.
Give yourself time, space, and freedom to start journaling about your pains and emotions.
Book a call with a virtual therapist to talk through your fears, worries, anxiety, or depression – this is serious. You can’t do this alone.
Trust me, THERE IS NO CERTIFICATE OR GRAND PRIZE for battling your pain, trauma, anxiety, or depression alone.
This is what my therapist said when she wrote back on Tuesday:
“Sounds like you are doing some good things to calm yourself.
Make sure you keep reaching out to friends/family via phone or by video to get support and feel connected vs isolated.
Remember you can find joy and peace in every moment. Look for those moments that make you feel joyful. Simple things like being with your son and playing, hanging out with hubby, working with your ideal clients, hearing the spring songbirds singing, etc.
Keep exercising too so that any stress being held in the body can be released.
I don’t have the answers on how long this will continue and know people are pulling together as a whole.
Check for updates once a day vs multiple times a day. This can help the anxiety levels down.
Hope this helps and if you want a session sooner let me know or check times I have open.
Big virtual hug,”
I freaking love her.
Baby steps to unpack that big back-pack, sweet friend. You will feel so much better without all of that extra weight on your back.
So, what’s the other side of this? The other side is: the solution-providing side.
This side is also dangerous because you can hurt someone without knowing. When you are on this side, you are full of recommendations.
Someone is opening up, and you just go straight into your advice and sharing what worked for you.
Someone posts on social media and you are the first to write your recommendation and endorsement for something that worked for you – even if you weren’t asked.
You are often pissed at people who don’t follow your simple solutions for living better and easier!
“Why don’t they want to live better like me?” –> this is what you might think often.
Goodness, I’ve been there. I have been a solution-provider more times than I would like to admit – always dropping in to say what worked for me!
Don’t do this.
Stop doing this.
OMG – this will save your life.
You are thinking of someone in your life right now who does this, aren’t you? IS IT ME? GOODNESS – IT MIGHT BE ME! LOOK AT ME GIVING YOU ADVICE AND SOLUTIONS ON HOW NOT TO PROVIDE SOLUTIONS!
Ok, that line was written by my anxiety. Welcome me, it’s me. For real.
Alright, honey – now is not the same for your relentless recommendations. People are hurting. People are emotional and fragile. You, likely, mean well. You, likely, are sharing because you care. But I have an idea. I have a middle road.
Do you know where the middle road resides? If you follow me on social media, you know the answer.
The middle road is in this beautiful place of grace called: EMPATHY!
The definition of empathy is: “the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.”
If you are on the emotional side, you have empathy that other people don’t see the world as you and might not understand your worry and pain. They just need to know what is going on so they can love you.
If you are on the solution-providing side, you have empathy that people are hurting and they don’t need your solutions – they just need your love.
So, what can you do?
If you are on the emotional side, you can find the words to share what you’re feeling and needing. You can find a therapist or source to take action to get yourself out of this place. Feelings aren’t facts, but they can hurt a lot. So you can’t stay in this place for long.
If you are on the solution-providing side, you can ask questions FIRST! Here is an awesome one that my therapist taught me. Say something like this, “Ashley, it sounds like you are hurting and going through a lot. I am here for you. Would you like to release what’s going on or would you like my advice?”
When you ask permission for what you say or do next, the emotional people will see your empathy shining bright in your eyes. It will show them that you love them. It will give them the hope and trust they need to listen to you. And maybe – MAYBE (not likely) – take your advice.
Now is the same for us to:
- Be kind.
- Stay empathic.
- Explore new ideas.
- Get creative.
- Stay connected.
- Focus on helping – not selling.
- Give a little to gain a lot.
- Stop hiding our pain and fears.
- Love each other.
- Check-in on each other.
- Stop making assumptions.
- Assume positive intent.
- Eat food off kid’s plates (seriously – this is fun)!
Speaking of loving bacon, Cooper said this ad for leggings on my phone and said, “You totally need those green leggings in the middle. Those are just like your legs and I swear your butt looks JUST like that middle butt.”
So on that note, embrace the mindset of a kid right now. Last night, I felt bad about how crazy this all must seem – both parents working from home. I feel like I am working 24/7 to support my students and be there for them quickly. My laptop and phone are always on. I hope to have better work-life boundaries as things slow down soon.
I said, “Cooper, honey, are you OK? I know there is a lot going on right now.”
“Are you kidding me?” he said. “This is the BEST time of my life. I could stay inside with these snacks and crafts forever.”
And that was the moment I realized my son is a thriving introvert.
So even if YOU feel like this:
I can assure you that your child probably feels like this:
I hope it helps to know that you aren’t alone – no matter which side you’re on. Some days, I find myself on both sides! Sigh.
All you can do is look for the middle road – that spot where you have the best view. The place where you are filled with gratitude. You almost lose your breath in the moment.
The one where you pause, pullover, and soak everything in – that mountain top of empathy.