Now that the initial fight or flight reactions of the pandemic are all but gone, many of us are struggling to deal with the uncertainty of the long road ahead. Disengagement is the order of the day.
A friend shared that come September, she has no idea what school and childcare logistics will be like for her little ones. “But I’m done freaking out” she said. “I feel nothing.” I’m no longer pushed to put out fires all day long either. Yes, my children are tired of being in each other’s hair all the time. And no, I can’t do anything about it. Sorry.
More and more, many of us are using numbing as a strategy to manage our emotions. Some of us have been doing so for years, decades even. Others are finding it’s the only way to deal with what we’re living through.
The thing is, numbing can help in the short term, some of the time. But when chaos and uncertainty is here to stay, it’s no way to live your precious life.
What’s far more effective is a simple technique I learnt in my teenage years as I fought a debilitating eating disorder:
Take one step at a time.
I remember days when the motivation to get better was as faint as a silent breath. And so I learnt to take one hour at a time. There were days when a meal felt too much to handle. And so I took it one bite at a time.
Little did I know then that the brain is wired to keep moving once we begin. It’s the principle that underlies habit formation. Begin small. Really small. You’ll be motivated to keep going.
So wherever you are, and whatever your goals, take the next small step. It could mean anything as small as smiling as the weary person next to you, or ticking off one item on your to-do list. It could mean sending someone a quick uplifting text, or stepping out for a 5-minute walk.
Or it could mean building on what’s already working by taking the next step forward. As long as your steps are intentional, you’ll stay the course. Because challenges are part of every journey. Our job is to keep moving.