By: M. Diane Pearce, Ph.D., Marriage & Family Therapist
“BE CAREFUL, KEEP CALM & DO NOT LOSE HEART!” This is the soundest psychological advice of our time! This advice is challenging to follow when the order that we all grew accustomed to is nowhere to be seen. In a gloomy & distressful environment, it is natural human instinct to begin looking around for something predictable & a sense of order. Chaos seems to surround us, in the news, social media, government and even in relationships.
Order and predictability become my quest….
A quote from the movie Spiderman, “To whom much is given, much is expected” resonates in my soul because I have been given a great deal. Therefore, I am somewhat ashamed to admit to you, my reader, that I am afraid of the unknown. In my younger & seemingly braver days I marched into the unknown & I did it alone and afraid. Yet, I walked in faith and took one step at a time, having only my faith in God and what scripture tells me is His purpose for me as my motivation. As God often does with us, He did not make clear to me the path set before me but He always made clear the next step to take by making available to me one & only one step at a time. Now years later, I find myself fearing the unknown, when I know from years of experiences that He is predictable though the path laid before me is not!
So, we must ask ourselves, as we start a new year with the chaos, what step can I take today? Though I will feel lonely and afraid, wisdom tells me that I only need to know how to take the step laid before me today.
How to be Strong enough for One Step at a Time in today’s Chaos…….
“Be Careful, Stay Calm & Do Not Lose Heart” is advice that is psychologically sound for our current culture & it comes from scripture! This advice was stunningly appropriate to the environment that is recorded in Isaiah. The people were in gloom and distress & needed a Prince of Peace, an Everlasting Father! He told Isaiah to not call conspiracy what the people call conspiracy & do not fear what they fear. He told him to Be careful, Stay Calm & Do not lose heart! May we each stand firm in our faith with Careful Calm!
(Scripture adapted from Isaiah 7:4, 9, 8:12-14, 9:1,2 6,7)
By: Chip Carter, LPC, Co-Director Legacy Strategy
I believe most, if not everyone reading this, can agree on one thing – 2020 has been one of the most challenging years ever. And Isn’t it nice that we’re all agreeing on something for a change?
Not much more needs to be written about the year 2020 and the difficulties it has brought. We could all most likely recite a litany of challenges, frustrations and losses. It has been draining. It has been exhausting. It has been, just simply, hard.
Many of us are counting down the days to January 1st, 2021. People so badly want this year to be a distant memory and just want to stop saying ‘2020’ like it’s both a diagnosis and a punchline. I imagine firework sales for New Year’s Eve this year will be record breaking if only for a symbolic ‘see ya’ to many of ours ‘worst year ever’.
But here’s the thing…once we cross into the new year, the pandemic, political polarization and racial unrest…they aren’t leaving. They will be here with us on New Year’s Day whether we like it or not.
So if the countdown to ‘end the misery of 2020’ isn’t going to provide some long-lasting relief, what will? What does? Can anything help redirect our thoughts and our prayers to point towards some semblance of hope? In my life, I have found two things that, when done consistently, put hope back front and center where it belongs – reflection and gratitude.
Reflection – if you’re like me, sometimes all you have left in you at the end of the day is enough energy to crawl in the bed and maybe turn off your bedside lamp. But on my better days, here’s what I do. I get out an old-school day planner and write the highlights of my day. It’s short, it’s typically in bullet form and, to be honest, some days have fewer entries. But the act of recalling and reflecting on my day challenges me to find moments that are worth remembering. These can be conversations that mattered, a complement you received, or even unexpected time to binge a show on Netflix. These small acts of recalling and naming the best parts of our day puts our hearts into a more open place for…
Gratitude – You didn’t think you’d read a blog post during this time of the year and not have that word discussed, did you? But…it’s 2020…and it’s never been more important. Here’s how I start my heart and mind into a time of gratefulness. I grab my phone and find a worship song in my music library. I then put the phone on top of my chest (I’m laying down) over my heart and hit play. For four or five minutes, I let the song play and I give thanks for the people, the opportunities and the wonder in my life. I also pray into things that are going on my own life and the lives of those I know and love. I can honestly say when I start my day this way, it makes a difference. And to be a difference-maker, to not let this problem or that problem, this year or that year get you down, that’s what I’m shooting for.
My encouragement to each of you it to bookend your days with gratitude and reflection and put 2020…or any other year that may come…in it’s place. There is still much to be thankful for; we just have to make the time to remember.
BY: TRAY TANKERSLEY APC, NCC, THM
A few weeks ago I heard a memorable quote, part of a larger statement made by the leadership of Boeing, an American aerospace bellwether and the manufacturer of the 737 MAX plane. Responding to Congress’ damning investigation of a series of 737 MAX plane crashes, the leadership of the company stated:
Change is always hard and requires daily commitment, but we as a company are dedicated to doing the work...
I second that - change is hard and requires daily commitment. Those who seek therapy, whether they can articulate it or not, are seeking change. This sounds good, until the changes are articulated: I need a different spouse; I want my children to change their behaviors; I wish my manager would leave; can I get a new mom or dads. It’s human nature, isn’t it? We all want change. We just want someone else or something else (besides us) to change.
Our role will be to bring our best, most empathetic, patient, understanding self to help others make the necessary changes. Ok, hopefully you are chuckling with me.
We find as therapists that, at some level (usually on a “surface” cognitive level) clients believe that they have opportunity for growth and change. And, I find that clients believe that the other (fill in the blank) still possesses MOST of the responsibility for the problem and most of the needed change!
In the therapy room it sounds like this:
Client: “I know I don’t do everything perfect and I need to make some changes...”(long pause) “BUT YOU SHOULD SEE WHAT HE/SHE/THEY DO...”
Be that as it may, you do not have enough anger, manipulative skills, anxious activity or enough facts, logic, data and reason to make anyone else change.
The ONLY person you can change is yourself. The only responses you can change are yours. The only facial expressions, eyebrow raises, frowns you can change are your own. The only thoughts you can control are yours. The only emotions you can regulate belong to you. The only words you can command come out of your mouth.
Change is always hard...because it requires something from you. It’s always easier to require something of someone else.
But requiring change from someone else keeps you from the TREAT of change. It’s a treat to learn to respond differently. It’s a treat to grow as a person and learn the skill of grounding and emotionally regulating yourself without having to rely on someone else to do it for you. It’s a treat to find new words and new ways of expressing emotions and vulnerability.
The TRICK is embracing the well worn rule of life - you’re the only one you can change!
By: M. Diane pearce, MFT, Legacy Strategy Clinical Director
See Part 1 for Tips 1-4
Continued from Part 1...
How do we survive these unprecedented circumstances with our Families intact?How do we keep intact the family and what family was created to be in the midst of our uncertainty?
5. SET UP A TIME ALONE FOR EVERYONE! We all need some time to be quiet and sit alone with a book, or take a nap, or sit outside and be fully present in the moment. Listen to the sounds around you and be still for a little while each day to notice the many things that go unnoticed in our normal daily routines. Without this, we can all begin to feel a bit like a tangled ball of tension. This tension will eventually fall out onto those we care about the most. Breathe deeply & notice the little things & smile….
6. CREATE A DAILY PLAN WITH FLEXIBILITY! Most of us are accustomed to accomplishing tasks each day during the traditional work week (Monday-Friday), so follow suit and have a project with a balanced amount of time designed for working on the project, breaks, meals, fun time, alone time and rest time. Our bodies and our minds work best when there is a rhythm to our activities. If our sleep rhythms are drastically altered, our entire body will be affected. Too much of any good thing can turn int a negative. As with life in general, plan for the unexpected. Flexibility eases the tension that builds when people are together for extended periods of time. Breathe deeply & be easy going & smile….
7. PRACTICE BOUNDARIES! It is very easy for us all to forget our place when we are in each other’s space physically, mentally and emotionally. We all have invisible property lines that give us some power in. One example might be that as parents, you probably decided what to wear today, and I am pretty sure that if your kids decided to select your clothes today, you would have likely responded with something like, ‘Nice try, but no thanks!’ Our kids need their own designated space to control (within reason and safety). When school is not formerly in operation, maybe we could let the kids have some freedom in their clothing choices. This principle can be practiced in most parts of our lives, not just in clothing. Breathe deeply & respect boundaries & smile….
8. ALIGN OUR ACTIONS WITH OUR FAITH! It is so very easy to allow our responses to be dictated by our circumstances, frustrations and hurts. If we allow our emotions to be in charge, we will spread a virus of negativity with our self-absorption, our actions, and attitudes towards those we do not understand. In my home, we know that our higher power, God, calls us to walk in His ways as we respond to our circumstances. For us, we know that His ways include truth in times of confusion, mercy in times of not knowing the full story, patience in times of frustration, gentleness in times of fear, and above all, love towards one another, regardless of what my emotion tells me. Are we perfect in this endeavor? Absolutely not! We are but broken humans striving to learn from our own mistakes. We re-focus and re-calibrate frequently, that means we apologize and lean into each other. Where does your moral compass comes from? Wherever it comes from, remember in times of uncertainty to re-calibrate often with the source of your compass! Breathe deeply & trust in one greater than yourself & smile….
By: M. Diane Pearce, MFT, Legacy Strategy Clinical Director
It appears that we are all in a position to fortify our "shelter in place!" After COVID-19 cases begin to subside in our nation, perhaps we can all move forward with a renewed appreciation for our family. Perhaps, even in spite of the likelihood of COVID-19 intensifying the risks for divorce, abuse and domestic violence reports. We have all broken from our learned ‘normal’ rhythm of living together. The stress of more time with our families, more anticipated responsibilities and financial tension can cause the strongest to feel overwhelmed.
How do we survive these unprecedented circumstances with our Families intact?
How do we keep intact the family and what family was created to be in the midst of our uncertainty?
Perhaps the following eight strategies can assist you in protecting the Family safety of your "shelter in place" in the midst of any pandemic.
8 SURVIVAL TIPS ON RELATIONAL STRATEGIES IN A PANDEMIC:
View Part 2 for Tips 5-8.
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Legacy Strategy, Inc. is a private counseling practice in Kennesaw, Georgia.