Maneuvering through the Chaos: A Mindful Step Forward

Woman sitting at a table thinking

Everything has changed all around us and with the trendy buzzword of the day being “uncertain.” It is hard to plan for the future when we are all waiting on a curve that seems like it will never decline.

As we get closer to the end of the closures, the governor then pushes them back again. At least, that’s how it feels in Illinois. While we all understand the necessity to do this, it is hard to wrap our head around how to continue forward

But the fact is you already are continuing forward. Whether you have adapted to working at home remotely or now have learned to dawn PPE at work, you are moving forward. Whether you have gotten back into networking, applied for unemployment, and are in a routine of looking for a new job, you are moving forward. You just don’t recognize that you are.

What is the Future?

None of us knows what the future holds whether we have a pandemic or not. People have lost their jobs from layoffs without a pandemic happening at the same time. We have all had to learn to adapt to something new in our lives suddenly that we have never had to deal with before.

The difference, this time, is that so many of us are dealing with the same thing at the same time. And that fact alone can make us worry about the future or wonder if there will be one for us. It can be overwhelming, to say the least.

Unfortunately, none of us can escape suffering. However, with a crisis of this scale, we can find others to commiserate with. We can find others to talk to and find support. Yes, with social distancing, it will be different than before but that doesn’t mean you cannot still connect.

Idealizing the Past

While it is necessary to grieve, constantly lamenting the loss of 2019, is not going to move you forward to the life you want. You were a different person in 2019 and that doesn’t mean you were better or worse. You were simply different.

This year, while it has been hard, is the year that we can grow the most from. In the struggle, we find growth. We find who we truly are. This is to not diminish the pain that you are going through now. We are all going through our feelings and the various stages of loss. Yet, if you can, try to not have those feelings become a barrier for you.

When you lament the past too much you lose the present and ultimately your future. When we go through loss or a stressful event like now, we tend to idealize the past, romanticize it, without thinking about the negatives of that time as well.

Unfortunately, once time passes we can never get that time again. That is why it is so important to be able live in the present.

The Here and Now

In mental health, you are going to often hear about the here and now. In some ways, the concept is where the therapist has to meet you where you are at to be able to begin work. But I believe we also have to use this concept with ourselves. We have to get to know ourselves for who we are now and understand the situation that we are in now.

The person we were in the past is not the person we are today. We have learned and developed so much more from that time and we will continue to learn and develop. The person in the future, the situations that we will be in the future, we don’t know that for sure yet. We don’t know if we have lost everything yet. But if we stop trying because we have deemed ourselves clairvoyant, then we will certainly never have that future we so desire.

Mindfulness is the Key

If it is hard for you to be in the here and now. Try out different acts of mindfulness. Yes, it is hard to focus and sit still. Mindfulness is not easy and it’s not always relaxing. It is hard to be present with ourselves, when we have all these feelings and thoughts swirling around our heads.

But pretending to be positive all the time is not going to get you there. You will avoid your feelings all time and at a moment of rest not know how to handle them when they come up again. Feeling sad is normal. Feeling loss is normal. However, when you feel so much sadness that it disrupts your life that means that it is time for a change.

Mindfulness is a simple way in which you can do that. There is no wrong way to do mindfulness. So don’t be harsh or judge yourself if you can’t concentrate all the time on the here and now. Just gently guide yourself back.

Mindfulness also does not mean that you need to be sitting on the floor. You can do mindfulness while you walk, eat, or wash the dishes. Just take the time to focus on your actions. It does not need to be for a long time. Try five to ten minutes a day. When you’re done reflect on how you’re feeling specifically about the exercise and what it brought up for you. Remember, there are no wrong answers. This is your experience.

Why Therapy can Help

If you feel overwhelmed by this whole process. Therapy can help. A trained therapist can be able to observe your thought cycles, patterns, and be able to process with you the traumatic moments that you have been through. The therapist can also help to keep you clear on your goals and how you would like to proceed to obtain them.

Your therapist is genuinely there to see you succeed and everything you say to this person is confidential. So, there is no need to judge yourself if you don’t have an “acceptable” thought or emotion. The therapist is there for you to process it all.

And By the Way!

My name is Tara. I am a therapist who provides online counseling services in the state of Illinois. This blog post is not therapy and it should not be used as a substitute for therapy. If you would like to talk more, you can schedule a free 15-minute consultation, click here!

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