I was prompted to write this article following a conversation with one of my clients. After our initial consultation where he shared with me his anxiety around public speaking, and we discussed his beliefs about himself and his abilities, I asked him if there were anything else causing him stress in his life at the moment. He answered… “Well there’s covid and everything, I’m feeling really worried about that. Everyone is though so I’m not going to start complaining about it.”
Let’s dissect this. Worried because of covid and everything is massive ! Id struggle to cover “covid and everything” in one article, yet my client was already dismissing this as unimportant stress that wasn’t even worth mentioning. It was an afterthought in our conversation about his current mental state of mind. To be fair, playing down major stressors in our lives in not uncommon so this is not a huge surprise, but it’s the next part of the sentence that I’d really like to explore.
“Everyone is though so I’m not going to start complaining about it. “ Lets look at this !
Remember when the first lockdown hit. There really was a sense that we were all in it together. This virus did not discriminate and neither did the restrictions. We connected with our communities because we were all in the same boat and there was this strange sense of comradeship with people we had never even spoke to before.
Truth bomb. The restrictions applied to everyone but this did not throw everyone in the same boat.
Some boats had one parent in them with a number of small children needing educated while their parent tried to continue as a call centre operator from the kitchen table.
Some boats had people in them who lost their jobs, their income and their identity.
Some boats had people in them who were living with abusers, scared and at high risk of harm.
Some boats had business owners in them who had responsibilities to their employees and their families and themselves who lost everything they had ever worked for.
Some boats had people in them who had the resources to survive.
Some boats were lonely.
Some boats were ok.
Some boats sank.
We have not all been in the same boat. Our boats, like our minds and our lives are completely unique and each and every emotion that we experience in our boats is valid. As his therapist my role was to explore what kind of boat he had been on..but I also asked him this.
“If someone you loved dearly sadly passed away and you felt upset, would that upset go away if I told you that someone I loved dearly had also passed away? ” What we may have for each other is compassion or empathy but our feelings about the death of our loved one is ours and is present.
Another example….if I am worried about the impact of covid on my life and the life of those I love, do I still feel that emotion in my mind and body if a million other people are also worried about the impact of covid on their lives and the lives of those they love ?