I could have made a list of all the ways the pandemic feels arduous and dispiriting. And I walked around looking at my experience through that lens only to find all the things that substantiated my point of view and - no surprise - became more ingrained in that “this is hard” perspective.
And how did that serve me? Not very well, quite frankly.
I was cranky and unproductive and annoyed with myself. That perspective won’t serve me at all if I take it on like a wet, wool coat I have to wear. Anything feels hard and uncomfortable if you are wearing a wet, wool coat. Singing happy birthday to someone, getting a hug, curling up under the covers…even the best moments feel pretty lousy.
The key to any perspective is the ability to see that there are many, and we get to choose the one that works the best for the given situation.
As far as the pandemic is concerned, the “spring is around the corner” perspective might help me feel hopeful by remembering that my parents will be fully vaccinated before the equinox, that we’ll be able to gather outside more easily once spring arrives, that the kids will have sports and other activities resuming. It’s enough to put a spring in my step - even as I look out on trees and buildings still covered in fresh snow.
Another possible perspective for me could be the “silver lining” perspective. My kids and I have taken up board games and card games again. The youngest gets to spend more time with his big sister before she leaves for college. My husband and I have time to sit and read together on the weekend because our schedules are much quieter.
There’s even space for the “this is hard'' perspective to be useful. It doesn’t have to be a wet, wool coat that I force myself to wear 24/7.
In smaller doses, this perspective can help me to manage my expectations of myself and others. It can help me to step out of “power through mode,” and put my feet up now and then. When my kids get frustrated with a school assignment, I remind them that we are working with a less than ideal scenario, and it’s okay to cut one’s self some slack because this is hard.
Yes, the past year has been hard. I’m noticing that compassion is more readily accessible when I tone down how I carry that perspective. I can let it be the lightweight warmth of a down coat, supple and easily shrugged off as needed.
What perspective have you been carrying around like a heavy burden? What might it feel like to put that down and choose something lighter?
Jessica Curtis is a professional life coach who helps people cultivate intention and live from a place of meaning and authenticity. If you think you could benefit from working with Jessica or want to invite her to work with your group, reach out to start a conversation.