As most people have been in quarantine for more than seven weeks, the relationships that we have others may not feel very joyful right now. Between spending 100% of our time together, everyone working from home, teaching children, and not being able to go out and do the normal things that we would do in order to get both our own wiggles and the wiggles of our children, we are tired of those who are around us. All of these things combine to trigger (at least most people) to NOT like those people that are around them. Add to this that people have stopped “checking in” with others in their life because this has gone on for so long, it begins to seem as though every relationship that we have is more trouble than it is worth. It is okay to feel like that, it really is. I spend a lot of time during my day encouraging people to just allow themselves to have their own feelings and to stop judging their own feelings so harshly, so I am going to challenge you to stop judging your feelings and just let yourself have them.
But allowing yourself to have feelings does not mean just wallowing in those feelings, it means that you accept that this is how you feel. It also means that you are able to then decide how you want to feel, and then take steps to try to change those feelings in a healthy and appropriate manner. In school, one of my professors, Dr. Kyle Weir, PhD would continuously remind us that it is okay to wallow with clients, but then it is our job to help them move. Whether you are in therapy or not, and whether or not you are struggling with other emotional “stuff,” it is time to start moving with regards to your relationships with others.
In threads that I have seen online, I have seen people complaining about little things, like how someone washes the dishes, or being irritated with how someone is breathing. In the three lines of Twitter, these comments seem funny and entertaining. In life, they do not feel this way. Today you have two choices, to continue being angry with those in your life, or trying to focus on the positive relationships that you do have with people.
Trying something new requires intentionality. What does this mean? It means that you need to intentionally focus on appreciating your family members and the things that they do. It means that when you are irritated about things that are little, that you stop focusing on them and start focusing on something else. It means that you share, politely and lovingly, what you need from someone in order to successfully be happy at home. It means understanding that your children are struggling with this situation even more than you. They do not understand what is happening, they are frustrated that they do not get to utilize their independence as usual, and they are frustrated that they are not getting enough exercise. So it is not just about you, it is also about remembering that things can be difficult for you, but it is doubly hard for children and our job is to try to make it easier. If we are not able to make it easier for them, it is our job to accept that this is why they are misbehaving and to accept it, and definitely not take it personally.
A “good life” is about living in the moment. One of my favorite quotes is “Happiness is not a state to arrive at, it is a manner of traveling.” Essentially what I am trying to focus on here is that you can continue to just try to wait it out until the covid 19 changes are over. But if we are realistic, things will not “go back to normal” anytime soon, if they are ever able to really go back to where we are. If you are frustrated and upset with your family or friends, you can choose to stay this way until things go back to normal, which could be a very long time, or you can choose to try to make the changes today. And if today does not work for you, try tomorrow. The point is that it is important that you make the intentional choice about how you want your relationships with others to be. And if you do nothing, that is also an intentional choice.
This is a difficult time for ourselves and others. Let’s try to stay focused on those relationships and how we can find joy in them.