As our “post-COVID” (but not really—COVID is still here) world opens up, we also are noticing that uncertainty has grown dramatically. There is less we know about what our day looks like and how things will evolve week to week. Do I still need to wear a mask at my grocery store? My gym? If I want to go to a concert, what will they accept as proof of vaccination? Is an employer going to require that we go back to the office, or enable a hybrid or work from home approach? Is there even an office to go back to? And, if so, are we still social distancing there? Can neighbors and friends who’ve had to rely on unemployment benefits still count on that? What will that mean for our businesses and economy?
The volume of uncertainty is traumatic (with a small t), and exhausting. It becomes overwhelming because it’s constant. We see the evidence of trauma in reactions all around us -- irritability and violence on airlines, aggressive driving, strong emotional responses to seemingly minor issues, mass shootings. How do we begin feeling safe, happy, and productive again?
ReLearning is the RE word that I find myself thinking about at this moment in our collective journey. What do we need to ReLearn, and how can we support one another in the relearning?
It starts with becoming attuned to self, our levels of stress, and how we are managing. The first thing we need to ReLearn is how to recognize when we’re activated, and to relax and ground ourselves.
We are ReLearning how to engage in public, too. We can go out again, and what, exactly, does “going out” look like? What have you learned about the value of small gatherings in giving you energy and connection? What do you need to ReMember about how you contribute to the success of those gatherings--- the small gift to acknowledge a host, bringing drinks and/or flowers, the curious questions that offer another the opportunity to talk? How will we connect again when we are bigger than 2 square inches on a Zoom screen?
We also need to ReLearn how to estimate and manage the time it takes to do simple things. For the parents I know, the drive to the soccer field is now one to relearn--- traffic patterns at different times of day, road construction detours, how long it takes to walk from the car to the field, any COVID-specific requirements by the coach or the league. We must ReLearn our relationship with time (and ReCreate habits, so we don’t have to think about every single detail of our days).
Equally important: ReLearning our shared purpose, vision, and commitments. What did we know in the past about our shared vision? How did that drive our willingness to pitch in on a project when someone else was out sick? What did we do when we had a technology glitch? How will we ReLearn to ask for help – how to pop our heads over the cubicle and request a quick consult? We may have to ReLearn trust, as well. It’s been too long since we were able to rely on one another in these easy, fluid ways.
Finally, and most crucially, we need to ReLearn compassion – both compassion for self when the small things add up, and compassion towards others when they’re underwater, too. We do this by relearning how to listen in ways that feel safe and nurturing to others, by getting curious about how they’re making sense of their lives, and by responding to the underlying need rather than simply judging the behavior.
Need help ReAdjusting? You aren’t alone. Personally, professionally, institutionally, organizationally… everyone, everywhere, at every level is moving through these still-uncertain times without much clarity. At Lodestar, our greatest hope is that each of us use this opportunity to honestly ReExamine what is worth returning to, and that we choose to build something better, together.
We hope to connect with you, soon.