We’re all facing a lot of stress these days. How are you coping? I am both struggling and learning. The health crisis and the crises of racial injustice, violence and protest in our country are challenges and opportunities for us all to learn about staying healthy. This includes mental health.
Since first drafting this post about coping with the trauma of COVID-19, we have experienced even more trauma with the continuing crisis of racism in our country. As the health crisis threatens life and safety, we also experience and/or witness trauma happening to people in the black community. These events create a sense of fear, danger, and anguish for all.
How do we keep going? How do we cope? Each of us needs to keep functioning every day – we hope in the healthiest way. We want to help where we can and ask for the help we need. I want to share with you how these crises are stretching my own window of emotional tolerance.
COVID-19 continues to require a shift for Brickel and Associates. We’ve shifted into a virtual practice with online therapy sessions. This shift has surely expanded my personal window of tolerance! All of a sudden, I had to change the format in which I do business. I had to find, learn and implement the technology to support that virtual therapy and teach it to my staff. Then, I had to learn to deal with its limitations.
Why was this so hard? For over 20 years, I have provided in-person therapy. This doesn’t require much technology—we both just have to show up. As many of you know who know me already, tech was not my strength!
Dealing with all new tools and coping with so much change at work can be hard and frustrating. We didn’t plan for this, and now we must adapt.
How is it going for you?
The trauma of racism requires more major shifts from us too. People of color experience trauma daily. It’s never the goal to expand our window of tolerance so much that racism becomes tolerable.
Racism is unacceptable, as is any other form of trauma and abuse!
With each crisis, I had to notice and sit with my own personal feelings. I noticed feelings of frustration, disappointment, confusion, powerlessness and angst around how to keep my business going during a pandemic and how to best serve my clients. I was witness to the anger that showed up as an umbrella emotion for my sadness and disappointment that so many people in America are unsafe because of the color of their skin.
I noticed I could sit with the sadness of COVID-19 and its impact, validate my feelings and tolerate the emotions.
As I notice the sadness and disappointment around racial injustice, I am certain I do not want to learn to tolerate it. That is something that needs action, attention and healing. I know that today I am stretching my window where appropriate, learning and changing where necessary. I am actively doing the best I can!
Expanding our window of tolerance isn’t about tolerating racism. It’s about being better able to work with our feelings. That’s how we’re able to stay grounded while we experience so much pain, so that we can think and feel our way through!
Emotions help us recognize hurt and can motivate steps toward healing. Repair must occur to heal trauma. Ironically, trauma happens in relationships and needs to be healed in relationships also.
I want to assure you that we all struggle. And we’re here for you because we care that you are struggling too.
I, too, want to live in a world led by kindness, respect and compassion – without abuse and trauma.
In an upcoming blog post, I will talk further about coping by widening your window of tolerance.
Until then I wish for you a time of self-care, compassion, and health to learn from the wisdom of your feelings.