Relationships are a lot like owning a house. Unlike calling our landlord in a rental, when something goes wrong with the plumbing, HVAC, or roof, owning a home means that it’s my responsibility to address the problem. I would say that the majority of us naturally respond to our relationships like it’s a rental property — It’s their problem, not mine. Over time this mindset erodes the foundation of the relationship, and it doesn’t take much of a storm to do quite a bit of damage.
This relationship challenge will address your personal foundation and how that impacts your relationship foundation. By the end of the next 15 days, you’ll better know your personal story, your relationship story, and the things that get in the way of what you hope and desire. As with all things in life, we harvest what we plant. As you begin, ask yourself what you hope to get out of this (be honest!) and how much you will invest of your time, energy, attention, and patience. You will get out of this what you put in.
Overview of the Process
The focus for the first week is on the story of me, and the second week is on the story of us. This will promote lighthearted, but meaningful engagements. Growth takes place with one positive experience after another.
Each day for the next 15 days, there will be a short read and then there will be some questions for you to consider throughout the day. These questions will be more like a lantern to guide your way, than they are a finish line to complete. Try to engage the questions reflectively instead of checking the boxes. You may not realize it, but doing so will build the necessary muscles of your “soul” that will help you in your relationship. Finally there will be an assignment to do for the day as you go into work or life.
There will be an assignment of connection for you and your spouse for the evening. Revisit what come up during the morning, what happened in your day, name your hopes and needs, and then close with reading the prayer or meditation together.
It would be helpful for you to get a journal so you can jot down notes about your process. Throughout the challenge, I’m going to use the words “marriage” and “relationship” interchangeably. While this process can be helpful to any relationship, the majority of interpersonal issues we experience show up the most acutely in our intimate relationships.
Some of the material might lead to conflict in your relationship. That’s ok. I’d encourage you to “press pause” if a conflict arises that feels like it is getting out of hand. Take a break, and continue with the challenge tomorrow.
When we talk about ourselves or others as being “broken,” we begin to treat them like an object to be fixed, not a Subject to be known.
We are people with stories and souls, not an object to be used.
Objects are made to do things. A vase holds flowers. A dishwasher cleans dishes. Scissors are made to cut. Chairs don’t care how you use them. When an object breaks, we attempt to fix and get it back into the original working order. If we can’t fix it, we get rid of it.
When we apply this principle of “fixing” onto people’s lives (others or ourselves), we treat them like an object. Like there is something wrong with them until they are fixed and put back together. And if we can’t fix them? Discard.
You can’t fix a broken heart.
You can’t go back in time and undo what’s been done.
You can’t discard the agony of death without severing part of yourself.
These wounds we experience are often the birthplace of passion and purpose for our lives. Objects can’t heal, because they are not alive.
When wounds heal, the story is a beacon of hope for others. Just visit any cancer floor at a hospital or a 12-step support group, you’ll see this in living color. That which is painful is most universal.
The great philosopher Tow Mater from the movie Cars said his dents were too valuable to get rid of because he got them from spending time with his best friend Lightning McQueen. “I don’t fix these. I wanna remember these dents forever.”
My office sits about 30 yards off of some very busy train tracks. I’ve yet to count out how many different trains pass by each day, but I’d guess it is 15-20. In the Spring and Fall seasons, I enjoy opening the windows in my office to let the fresh air and sounds of nature drift inside.
But there’s a problem with the open windows and trains. It gets really loud when a train comes chugging by (especially the ones with full loads). When I open my windows while I’m with a client, I listen for the train so that I can close the window before it get’s too loud.
Over the years, I have found that trains can be heard well before they become a disruption. Even if they aren’t blowing a horn, they can be felt in the ground and heard in the air.
All of us have trains that rumble through our lives and relationships. They can be incredibly disruptive if we’re not listening and prepared for them. The powerful aspect of listening is that we hear what we want to hear.
Try it sometime.
Go outside and focus only on hearing the birds singing and chirping. How many different birds can you hear?
It’s pretty amazing that our brains have the ability to tune out background noise and hear what is important. Attentive listening takes practice, and most of us are too well practiced in this skill. Is it difficult for you to hear criticisms, slights, or judgements? Especially in your most important relationships?
The more we hear something, the easier it becomes to hear it (and actively listen for it) again. What we hear has more to do with what we are listening for than it does with what’s happening externally.
Creating an environment that is “us vs them” is fine for a sports team, but when that starts showing up in organizations and family systems, you are entering the category of narcissism in the leadership.
Evidence of this in organizations and families can be seen with those that have left the system. Are they welcome to stay in relationships with those that still remain? Are they shamed or shunned for leaving? Do they become the “them” that is now the competition/enemy?
Narcissists thrive by creating binds that keep people loyal to them. Threats (implicit or explicit) to the future success of those that leave, character assasination, and disparaging remarks about those that have left create emotional binds for those on the inside. The bind is this: Expose the unethical or immoral behavior and get a target painted on your back.
Leaving these leaders, systems, or cultures is anything but easy. To leave means that the employee or family member risks being ostracized, or living into the promised reality that the culture said would happen to those on the “outside.” “You won’t be able to make it on your own.” “We made you what you are.”
The really seductive narcissists will name and celebrate the good things about people in ways that they’ve never felt before. It feels so affirming and accepting. Unfortunately when one ceases to be any use for the narcissist, they are ignored which often leaves a massive emotional hole. To be known and celebrated like never before is now gone and in it’s place is as cold as the good feelings were warm.
Leaving a narcissistic culture or leader takes a lot of character, strength, and courage. It usually does not go well at first. Triggering the narcissists shame is what everyone is afraid of, so the culture continues to protect him/her from their shame. The culture will laugh at his jokes that are inappropriate, learn to rage at those that the narcissist hates, and will generally do anything to not be the object of the narcissists ire.
When someone leaves, it arouses and exposes the narcissists shame. A narcissist fundamentally cannot bear their shame, and thus they will typically go on the offensive to not feel “left, abandoned.” The one leaving will usually receive the brunt of the narcissist’s shame by way of projection. This is why it’s so important to leave with the help of friends, family (if they are not the narcissist), and an experienced guide.
Now that you’ve named your parenting style, created a SWOT+, and identified some goals, it’s time to put some structure into place about how to bring all of this together. Boundaries are the lifeblood of relationships because they provide guidelines for our needs to be met. Boundaries are what make it safe (or unsafe if there are none) to be in relationship together. Think of boundaries like roads. Sure we don’t have to use the roads, but it sure is easier, safer, and efficient to use them to get from point A to point B.
Kids and parents alike thrive on clear and consistent boundaries. These consistent boundaries help us to get our needs met. The goal here is to define some “roadways” that help everyone succeed and that you can follow through with in order to accomplish your goals.
The acronym PRESS is how to think through what kinds of needs we, and our kids, have. Boundaries require that we are willing to press pause and be flexible, but also to press through and be consistent. All of us, not just our kids, have needs in these five categories: Physical; Relational; Emotional; Spiritual; and Sexual. For the purpose of this parenting program, I’m going to focus on Physical, Relational, and Emotional. As you think through what kind of boundaries to set, consider unique boundaries for each individual kid.
Physical Studies show that physical activity is the best natural remedy to combating anxiety and depression. The body needs to release the energy it is storing inside from all the stress, but it also needs to produce seratonin and dopamine (the calming and happy chemicals our bodies naturally produce). Both kids and parents need some kind of physically strenuous activity once a day, especially now that we’re all at home. I notice a marked difference in my kids attitudes when they have done something physical in nature (working out, running, jumping on trampoline, played a game of basketball, etc).
Example boundary: Andrew’s screen time increases by 5 minutes per day for every 10 minutes of physical activity.
Relational This might be the most acute challenge that we are all facing today. Parenting can often feel like being a referee in a wrestling match with siblings and other family members. This section also has a lot to do with your parenting style. If you’re more of a “withdrawn” parent, think about relational boundaries that help you stay engaged and present with your kids. For instance, now that most of us are working from home or at home figuring out what to do for work, it’s easy to let work be an activity from the time you wake up to the time you go to bed. Have a set time that you engage work related matters, and have a time you engage in kids and family.
Example boundary: Because Josh needs 15-20 minutes per day of one on one time with a parent, we will spend this with him before bedtime each night.
Emotional Helping our kids to identify what is emotionally motiving, what hurt and anger is, and how to express oneself intellectually and emotionally is a tall order. We are all emotional creatures, some of us have better access and language to these emotions than others. Two of my sons are on opposite ends of the spectrum in regards to feeling and expressing emotions, and I have to parent them differently.
Example boundary: When something difficult happens to/with Sara, we will sit down with her and have her draw out her feelings (depending on age, journaling or talking would be other ideas here).
These categories are guides to help you implement boundaries that will meet the various needs that are present. You don’t need to make a list in each and every category, and what you come up with might not “fit” inside of what I’ve mentioned above. That’s ok. The best results from this exercise will be what you can be flexible and consistent with implementing.
If you need help identifying appropriate boundaries, sit down with your spouse or friend and talk through what your needs are and what your kids’ needs are. If that’s not an option, give me a call. I can help clarify your families needs, and help you identify some positive areas of growth for you and your kids.
Wrapping this up, below is a sample worksheet that will put all 4 of these Quarantine Parenting exercises onto one page. This will be helpful for you and your spouse to revisit regularly as you parent your kids. To get a PDF version of this, click here
What is your goal for parenting during this quarantine? Is it to just “survive” the process? Or perhaps might it be to “make sure I don’t screw them up too bad?” I often joke with friends that I don’t have a college savings fund for my kids, I have a therapy savings fund. My kids will probably need twice the therapy to work through their dad being a therapist. This next generation might need twice the therapy because of being stuck at home with their parents for months on end. Bless them!
Regardless if we’re talking about parenting during the quarantine or not, parenting is a two-fold challenge. First and foremost, we have to learn how to raise the kid inside ourselves. We have to be kind, respectful, loving and at the same time tough, hold boundaries, and be willing to say no to that part of us that wants instant gratification. We cannot be helpful parents until we have first admitted that we’re not that much further along than our kids are.
The second challenge is to raise our kids as unique individuals with similar and different challenges in life than what we ourselves face. Parenting our kids as though they wrestle with the exact struggles as we do is narrow minded and not helpful guardianship. I wrote about this last week in regards to parenting our kids uniquely, not as a group. Setting specific goals for our kids is a great way to drive that point home.
Similar to the SWOT+ exercise, setting of goals will also include an acronym: Parenting goals need to be REAL. Relational, Empathic, Attainable, and Loving.
Relational We need to set goals for our kids that are relational, not transactional. A goal for our kids to “keep them from bothering us so we can work” is not a relational goal, that would be a transaction. A relational goal means that both parent and child maintain connection in the process.
Empathic Put yourself in your child’s shoes. As you think about goals for them, walk around in their life for a bit. What’s it like for them to live in your house (which was not their choosing!)? What’s something that they see from their unique perspective that would be helpful for you to see as their parent? Set goals for them that consider the difficulties they are facing either in efforts at school, with their siblings, with their parents, or unique challenges. .
Attainable Set goals for your kids that they, and you, can attain. Start small, get some small wins that will snowball into something bigger. Unattainable goals are discouraging and demotivating. Enlist your child in helping to make sure the goal is attainable. Getting them to buy-in to this process will go a long way in their participation.
Loving Above all, make sure that your goals are out of love. One of the best ways that we can show love to our children is by showing interest in their life. What do they watch? Who are their best friends? What worries them? What excites them? The great author C.S. Lewis said it really well, “love is not an affectionate feeling for someone, but a steady wish for the loved person’s ultimate good as far as it can be obtained.” We don’t have to like our kids to love them.
There are two parts to setting goals during this time. The first is goals for you as a parent. Try to set some specific goals for yourself in relation to each kid. The second is to set some goals for and with your kids. Engage them in the process. Structure, which I will talk about as boundaries more in the final assignment, provides clarity and safety for both parents and kids.
Take some time to reflect on the two previous assignments of your parenting style, and the SWOT+ and then answer the questions below.
What have I learned about myself as a son/daughter of my parents? As a parent?
What have I learned about my kids (name them individually)?
Taking into account (child’s name)’s unique strengths and weaknesses, and the opportunities/threats from me as a parent, what is one goal I want to accomplish as a parent?
What is one goal I want to help my kid accomplish?
Last week I wrote about your parenting style, which is pretty well tied into your attachment style. While these styles don’t paint the entire picture, they do give a good baseline for how we relationally approach parenting our kids. We parents carry so many stories and libraries of information around about who our kids are. Most of the time, the biggest problem with parenting is the parent. We get in the way with things like what we like and don’t like about them, what we hope for them, and what we are afraid of about them. It’s easy to feel pretty overwhelmed about how to parent them well. I’ve adapted an exercise (some might call it an assessment) that will help you get out of the way, and clearly identify the make up of your kids.
If you’ve been around team building or organizational development, you may be familiar with the SWOT analysis. This is often used in businesses and organizations to identify what’s going well, and what’s not going well both internally and externally. SWOT is an acronym for: Strengths; Weaknesses; Opportunities; and Threats. I’m adapting this exercise to use as an assessment for parenting.
We’re going to take a look at doing a SWOT+ analysis on your individual kids. You may notice that I’ve added an “+” to the original exercise described in the first paragraph. This represents the future oriented “hopes and motivations” of our kids. Each kid is a unique creation, and needs to be treated as such. Good parenting is about knowing how to engage differently with each unique child, not as though they are a heard of animals (though it sometimes feels that way).
I’ll explain the exercise and then provide an example SWOT+ to show you what it might look like. Sometimes this is better to do on a whiteboard or poster-board if you have those available. The SWOT+ assessment is a 3-part exercise addressing the make up of the child (internal), your influence as parents (external), and the future hopes and motivations of the child (eternal).
A few final thoughts before proceeding: Don’t worry about getting it right. Think of this as a living document that you’ll add/edit/change over time. The exercise doesn’t have to be linear, feel free to go back and forth over the different categories. (Warning, this is not something your child needs to see until they are mature enough — mid to late teen years.)
Internal (What’s unique about the child) Strengths & Weaknesses
Section Goal: Find out what’s your child needs help with, and what they are good at. Try to fill this section out in a 2:1 ratio of strengths to weaknesses.
Strengths Sometimes, especially with teenagers, we forget what is amazing about our kids. This might be the section your kids need to spend the most time on. What are they good at? What is a gifting of theirs that you want to name and highlight about who they are? It’s easy to miss what is good about our kids when we aren’t pointing out for them what is good. Try to balance their strengths between what they do and who they are (we are human beings, not human doings). Examples: Creative, artistic, thoughtful, follow through, compassion, remorse, empathy, plays well on their own, reading, athletic, leader, smart, competitive, relationships.
Weaknesses. What does your child lack or need help with that they are naturally not good at? Sometimes a weakness relates to an underutilized gift. Think of weaknesses as where they will need other people to help them. Weaknesses are less about normal development, and more about what they are not naturally gifted at. Examples: patience, compassion, team work, initiative, appropriate emotional regulation, relationships. If you find yourself naming more weaknesses than strengths, that might say more about you than it does about your child.
IDEA – If my son is not good with time management but is great at follow through, I might need to adjust how I give him deadlines that set him up to win opposed to a expecting him to magically become better about time management. Asking him to clean his room by 3pm today might not be specific enough for him to manage that whole process in a timely manner.
External (Parenting opportunities and threats) Opportunities & Threats
Section Goal: To name how the child’s gifts and abilities are uniquely influenced by you the parent(s). Keep in mind how your parenting style (Withdrawn, Hyperactive, Confused, Comfortable) might be helping or hurting your specific child.
Opportunities. Taking into account his/her gifts and abilities, what current opportunities are available for you to encourage and develop in your child? In this time of quarantined living, if your child is artistic, this would be a great time for them to have a portion of the day set aside to learn and develop a new type of art. Other examples might be: Reading, writing short stories, developing a new craft, hobby or skill. Opportunity has a lot to do with motivations, which we will talk about at the end. What are the unique opportunities that each parent individually has to engage in a special with your child?
Threats. Some dad’s get into “Alpha-male” battles with their sons. Some mom’s get into nagging and petty fights with their daughters. Most parents struggle with the child that is most like them. What is something that is challenging you with developing and encouraging your child in achieving their goals in this time of life? What would threaten you from helping or engaging well with them? For example, a kid loves to be outside playing games, but you’ve just had knee surgery and cannot play with them. Or more nuanced, your child needs a lot of physical touch, but you aren’t a touchy-feely person (avoidant parenting style?) keeps you from meeting this need in them.
Eternal (Encourage your childs’ purpose) Hopes & Motivations
Section Goal: Name at least one hope, and one unique motivation about your child (not about you!). What they are motivated by and hope for has a lot to do with how they will influence their world. There will never be another person in the history of the world like them, help them discover and live into who they were created to be.
Hopes & Motivations. Your child tells you often about what they hope for, they just might not say it in an obvious way. For example, my 12 year old son hopes to be included and is motivated by attention. He’s always up and about, looking for ways to be involved with his siblings or with us, his parents. When we give him a little bit of those things that motivate him, he comes alive. One of my other kids hopes for independence and is motivated by money and good food. Knowing these things is extremely helpful in how we approach each kid uniquely. If I parent my 12-year old as though he wants to be independent, he’s going to feel profoundly misunderstood. What does your child hope for, and what motivates them?
Now that we’ve talked through each of these categories, set aside some time (15-20 minutes per kid) to complete each section for each of your kids. Again, I’d recommend some posterboard or one of those “giant sticky notes” you get from an office supply store. Seeing these words written down on paper helps to clarify the process.
The next part in this series is setting goals. This will come from taking your parenting style and your kids SWOT+ and applying these to some specific goals for each one of them, and your family. Check back later this week for that post.
Have questions, or want to set up some parent coaching? Let’s connect.
Christopher – 13 Years Old Strengths: Others-centered, athletic, competitive, numbers/math, flexible, diplomatic.
Weaknesses: Attention to details, Intuition, Tends to look for others to make decisions. Has to compete with younger sister for attention.
Opportunities: Katie (younger sister) & her being in 6th grade with him next year. Gifted in soccer, mom played soccer in college, so time for them to work on this together. Has ample time to learn coding and other basic math implementations with technology.
Threats: Time with Dad b/c of dad’s work schedule. Tends to get lost in family needs/discussions because he is quiet and removed. Mom’s hyperactive parenting style can overwhelm him with too much energy. Dislikes being given multiple tasks at one time (weakness- attention to details)Hope.
Hopes & Motivations: Motivated by surprises. Wants to be a teacher when he grows up. Energized by serving/helping others.
Our style of parenting has a lot to do with our story of how we were or were not parented. How we were parented created an “attachment style” in us. These attachment styles were first developed by John Bowlby almost a century ago. His work is a guiding principle in my work as a therapist and how I engage others in their story.
How we relate and attach to others (namely our kids) has a lot to do with our attachment style, of which there are four. They are: Secure; Avoidant; Anxious; and Anxious-Avoidant (Disorganized).
Avoidant. They have a high drive for independence. They are often self-referencing (the need to have space apart from others to find and know what they think and feel). There is little trust in others, and they don’t have a strong need to be close to others. Their relationships generally provide the stress, not the comfort. “It’s not ok, and I’m only ok on my own.” Fears relational consumption.
Anxious. There is a high degree of dependency on others. They have a difficulty being on their own a part from important relationships (or, sometimes, any relationship). They are others referencing and trusting, with very little trust in self, high need for others. They themselves generally provide the stress, and they need their relationship to feel comforted. “It’s not ok, and I’m only ok when I’m with you/others.” Fears relational abandonment.
Anxious-Avoidant. This is the style that often feels chaotic to the self, and to others. It’s marked by a “disorganized self” that fluctuates often. They have a difficulty connecting with others for long periods of time. “I’m not ok, we’re not ok, and I don’t really know what is ok.” Fears relational consumption and abandonment.
Secure. These people are interdependent. They understand at an emotional level that they need others, but that they also are ok if others are not available. They have a high degree of autonomy. The “self” is defined and organized regardless if they are alone or with others. “It’s not ok, and I’m ok.” Fears abandoning or consuming others.
Most of us primarily fall into the first two categories and because we’re not static human beings, we often have a mixture of all of these styles. Some relationships will trigger a different style in us, which can sometimes feel really confusing. These are fantastic categories to help you understand yourself better, but also very helpful to know what’s behind the curtain in terms of how you interact with your children. The more we understand ourselves, the less we will need our kids to take care of us.
The styles of parenting draw a parallel line to the attachment styles I wrote about above. The four parenting styles are: Withdrawn; Hyperactive; Confused; and Comfortable.
High on shame, low on fear.
Keep kids at arms length. Fear getting close to them, or them getting close to you.
Often parents our of a “hit and run” style.
Emotionally distance themselves children to keep from feeling consumed.
Intimacy requires togetherness which comes at a loss of independence. Prefers to be independent than together.
Kids often feel alone with withdrawn parents, and cannot depend on them. Emotionally unavailable for
Communicates with logic more often sounding like a professor than a caregiver.
Flatter range of emotions. Difficulty knowing what they feel.
Often stuffs emotions, then explodes in reaction to something small.
Rises to the occasion in stress, chaotic situations. Cool under pressure.
Detached and aloof.
High on fear, low on shame.
Often referred to as the “Helicopter Parent”. Can be controlling and the dominant figure in the home.
Emotionally consume children to keep from being abandoned.
Communicates with raw emotion and tends towards bigger expressions
Wide range of emotions.
Insecure in parenting approach. Need kids approval and comfort to feel better. Preoccupied with needs of self.
Communicates with dominance, lacks collaboration in problem solving.
Does not do well with quiet. Activity is better than sitting around.
Inconsistent and anxious.
High shame and fear.
Trauma from own childhood creates instability in relationship with own children.
Chaotic emotional involvement with children.
Often blows up with the kids for no apparent reason.
Moody. Able to swing from one extreme to the next without warning.
Lack compassion or empathy for children. Blame children as reasons for own sufferings/pain.
Can be personality disordered (Narcissistic, Borderline) that results from unresolved trauma.
Appropriate shame and fear.
Able to connect with children around their needs
Willing and able to ask for help and rely on partner or others to meet children’s needs.
Communicates effectively, adjusting strength and tenderness based on each child’s unique makeup.
Ok with kids being kids. Does not need them to be the grown up.
Manages self and emotions well, does not rely on others to “rescue” them, especially the children.
Seeks forgiveness, and has a willingness to repair hurts.
Like I mentioned earlier, we all have components from all four styles, but we tend to act out of a single style. You might have different answer to this question than your spouse. That’s ok, discuss and learn what they see differently than you do.
Based on these descriptions, what parenting style best fits you? What parenting style best fits your spouse?
Take 5 minutes and discuss these styles, what’s coming up for you about this, and where you’d like to improve.
On Monday in the series, I will share an assessment tool for your kids to help you uniquely parent each one of them individually. Most of parenting is learning how to get out of your own way, this will be a tool that will help you do this.
Want to learn more about your parenting style and get some personalized help for how you’re parenting your kids? Consider setting up some parenting coaching sessions.
I’ve been having a lot of conversations with friends, family, and clients about the changes we’re all facing with our kids at home 24-7. Parenting is already hard, but doing so without the structure of school, comfort of friends, and breaks that sports provide can sometimes feel impossible.
Here in the Nashville area, we’re in week 4 or 5 of schools being closed, and the Governor has just stated that schools are to remain closed for the school year. Many of the challenges parents faced prior to the quarantine are taking center stage. This is now the new normal, and challenges such as screen time, social media, chores and responsibility, respect of others, and broken routines are needing parents attention.
The central figure in all of these challenges is not the kids, it’s the parents. Far too often we parents expect and sometimes demand that our kids be the grown ups. We assume that if our kids were more responsible, kinder, and spent less time on screens that our jobs are parents would be easier. While this might be true if it happened, these assumptions get in the way of how and why we interact with our kids. The parents are the grownups, and need to raise kids who will one day do the same for their kids.
Over the next week I will be writing a 4-part series on Parenting in Quarantine that will cover your parenting style, an assessment of your kids as individuals, your goals for parenting, and categories for setting boundaries with your kids. Similar to the 15-day relationship challenge, each day will have questions at the end to guide conversations with your spouse, or for your own reflection.
Along with this “Parenting in Quarantine” series, I’m launching a parent coaching program that will give you the opportunity to explore your parenting style further and develop a plan for how to parent in these new times.
Chapter 1 I walk down the street. There is a deep hole in the sidewalk. I fall in. I am lost … I am helpless. It isn’t my fault. It takes forever to find a way out.
Chapter 2 I walk down the same street. There is a deep hole in the sidewalk. I pretend I don’t see it. I fall in again. I can’t believe I am in the same place. But it isn’t my fault. It still takes a long time to get out.
Chapter 3 I walk down the same street. There is a deep hole in the sidewalk. I see it is there. I still fall in … it’s a habit. My eyes are open. I know where I am. It is my fault. I get out immediately.
Chapter 4 I walk down the same street. There is a deep hole in the sidewalk. I walk around it.
Chapter 5 I walk down another street.
What chapter are you finding yourself in that difficult relationship? What is something you can do to move into a new chapter?
A couple weeks ago I wrote about the importance of relationships regarding the two significant outbreaks that Nashville had faced in the recent weeks. Today with our country and world seemingly at a standstill with social distancing and quarantining, worry and anxiety are spreading much like the virus itself.
I’m noticing that many are having an increase of anxiety due to a lack of boundaries around their news consumption. Existentially, anxiety is about limitations and powerlessness. We cannot control what has happened, or what will happen. When we flood our being with information that we cannot do anything about, we either become apathetic or anxious. Neither of these lead to good things for us or for those we love and care about.
Before the quarantine, what most of us used to have was a set schedule and boundaries around work life and home life. With that gone, we have become unmoored from what governed our lives. We’ve lost the comforts that we relied on to keep us safe. This week, David Brooks wrote an Op-Ed piece in The NY Times about the virus’ impact on our society and that it’s a test for all of us. How will we respond?
As humans, we don’t exist (to our knowledge) outside of linear time. We’re bound to the gravity that holds us all stable on the ground. The same is true with time. We don’t know how long this will last. We don’t know what life will look like once it does pass (if it indeed does pass). We don’t exist in an alternate timeline, and thus we are left to face the truths that are in the present before us. What this virus is doing to us as individuals, and as a society, is revelatory about us, not about the virus.
Are you becoming apathetic, anxious, or something else? Be curious, what does your response say about you and what you might need to address about your limitedness?