As easy as riding a bicycle?
“I might be tempted to socialize more if the conversations taking place around me were half as interesting as the dialogue going on inside my head.”
― Richelle E. Goodrich1
It’s a hopeful time to be alive right now.
The summer is finally here and as vaccinations rise and covid cases fall, the doors leading back to society and to normalcy are opening, slowly, one at a time, revealing a bright big house full of airy rooms filled with people and friends and family we haven’t been with for a long time, along with all the lovely things that we can now do once again.
It’s also an uncertain time.
This pandemic has forced almost all of us to put our lives on hold, living in isolated bubbles and temporary lockdowns, adapting to a world where Zoom meetings and social media are our primary means of connection and, dare I say, socializing.
As a counsellor, the entirety of my sessions during covid have been remote, along with countless meetings and video chats with friends. Like everyone I know, we have all done our part to stem the flow of covid and to stay safe. I say that it’s an uncertain time because returning to normalcy can be scary.
What if I return to the office and realize I don’t think I want to be here anymore or I can’t really stand the people I work with?
What if I go back to dance class and now have two very large left feet or show up to a dinner party with friends and suddenly have a panic attack?
What if I see my family and relatives and break down into a sobbing mess?
Maybe people will shame me because I’ve put on weight or changed my appearance and OMG! – what if I don’t know how to socialize! I see myself creep nervously into a crowded room, standing close by the door. I’m a sweaty, awkward mess, giggling in high pitched tones to things people say that aren’t meant to be funny because I haven’t been out on the town for over a year and I feel like a reformed hermit who got a makeover and a life coach because the loneliness almost ruined me!
All that monkey mind babble could have some merit.
After all, this whole thing was one big transition and we all changed in some way.
But if we have changed, what will our new lives look like?
Every transition begins with an ending – the end of the way things were to the start of the way things are. And this brings us to that dreaded state of existence: CHANGE! It might not seem like it at first but after a while we’ll begin to notice differences (many subtle) in people, places, and things – everywhere we go. This can be unsettling at first – I just want everything to go back to the way it was before the pandemic – and we can try to control our lives – but that won’t work out very well.
Right now, is a perfect opportunity to practice self-care in a number of ways. First, we must ask ourselves what we need.
Perhaps it’s a slow dance back into our circle of friends and family, making a few arrangements based on where people sit within our circles of intimacy,2 later branching out to work friends and acquaintances. The drive might be there to book tons of social dates and engagements, stuffing our calendars with events and trips, binging on activities and making up for all those lonely nights stuck in the house with a meh tv show on Netflix and a sizable bag of chips from Costco.
Happy days are here again! Yes, they are but let’s talk about more self-care. All of this return to normalcy will take time – perhaps as long as we sat waiting for the pandemic to end – and we must try to keep the locus of control inward rather than outward. Maybe we discovered an addiction to a substance or a process3 that we never knew we had. The best treatment for any addiction is a support group (on Zoom and in person) along with direct one on one therapy or counselling for optimum mental health. Because the world has changed and we along with it, we must go within to discover and identify how we have changed and what we need to do/accept about these changes. Going full-hog at BBQ’s and beach parties is not going to satisfy the emotional hole that we us have inside us.
I am sad to say it but I am certain many relationships did not last the pandemic.
This was quite the stress test and rarely has such a strain been put on people while cramped into spaces with little to do, for such a long time. If it didn’t work out, getting into a new relationship with another person immediately only paints over the underlying problems that caused the demise of the former relationship. Let’s put it simply: if two emotionally connected people can continue to happily live and be together after a global pandemic, it’s fairly safe to say that that relationship can outlast pretty much anything. If this isn’t what you have in your life but dream of it being so – maybe it’s time to ask for help. Not an easy thing to for anyone, especially when you accept the painful fact that the problem (and the solution) is starring back at you in the mirror. Dealing with loneliness and the fear of being alone and unlovable cannot be solved by spending time with others or forcing a relationship. Many men struggle with low self-esteem/confidence, relationship problems, dating issues, and trouble with women. Therapy is proven to strike deep at the core of the problem and heal the cause.
Our self-care practice may also include taking time to assess and inventory our values. Ask yourself right now: What things/people do I value the most? What’s actually important to me? This short exercise can yield powerful results, inspiring you to take action towards self-help and healing, empowering you to return back into the post pandemic world, as a focused, healthy, and quietly confident person who everyone at the party wants to be around.
- Slaying Dragons: Quotes, Poetry, & a few Short Stories for Every Day of the Year
- Circle of Intimacy refers to the levels people in our lives are placed, in order of trustworthiness. A best friend or partner is often in the inner circle, some friends and acquaintances may be in the middle, our bank manager or barber are probably in the outermost. The closer the person is to the centre circle, the more they truly know you as you risk greater intimacy.
- A process addiction (sex, gambling, debting) is where the addict is addicted to the process (beginning, middle, end; the ritual) as opposed to a substance addiction (alcohol, drugs, food).