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  • jwhipple

Stay in Place

In the face of the COVID-19 epidemic, a new term has generated a lot of anxiety: Stay in place. Many of us are finding this is harder to accomplish than you’d think. When we try to sit still or are confined to our homes, external diversions and compulsive activities are eliminated. We come to realize just how dependent we are on these extensions of ourselves for our emotional well-being. Who would have thought that going to the grocery store served as an emotional comfort? What’s it like when you and your family are encouraged to be with each other 24/7? Staying in place, while it has become a community recommendation, is also an opportunity to tune in to how you operate on a day to day basis.

When we ‘sit still’ or eliminate the compulsive activities of our lives, we are forced to confront our inner reality and internal dialogues. Believe it or not, the current COVID-19 situation challenges us to observe our thinking in real time. Listen to the chatter, notice the restlessness or boredom, and wonder “What am I feeling?”

Many people may not know that our feelings generate our thoughts. As language based beings, we come to assume that our thoughts rule the roost when in fact, our feelings seek expression in our language as well as our actions. In addition, the thoughts that automatically come to us have roots that go deep into our early development. Feelings that we confronted as children seek some outlet. Ideas, beliefs and fantasy germinate and at each developmental phase, our cognitive (thought) tree bears a slightly different fruit. The underlining feelings, though, are similar. Identify the feeling and you can challenge the thought or redirect your intentions.

Staying in place is a time to take stock of our lives and biases—about ourselves as well as others. What is really important to you? What can you live without? How is the quality of your relating? Are you present and enjoying the ones in your quarantined pod? In essence, how do you feel? Tuning in and asking these questions can generate anxiety, but it is the first step in pruning our inner ‘tree’, tending to the roots, and bearing emotional resiliency for life’s next challenge.

Be well. John

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