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When You Don't Have a Map

When You Don't Have a Map

Things are moving fast, my friends. For so many of us even the most mundane routines have been upended. School. Work. Shopping. Going to the doctor. Going to a park. Suddenly, we’re homeschooling, sheltering in place, looking at pictures of empty shelves in Target, and wondering what comes next.

This is a time when we might resort to all our old coping techniques. We might play out some of our greatest hits in dealing with trauma: Fight! Flight! Freeze! These reactions are built into the oldest parts of our brain.

Do you recognize your favorite? Do you tend to freeze? Start to rebel or fight? Maybe you have an urge to run away from it all. Notice the patterns coming up - just by noticing, you’ll start to distance yourself from the behavior. YOU aren’t the coping pattern.

Design a new way. What is it that you need right now? A little time to yourself? A schedule? A daily phone date with a friend? We can tend to minimize those actions as being helpful. “I’m fine” we tell ourselves, “I can push through” or “I need to be strong for my kids/company/team/dog”. Taking care of your own needs gives you the capacity help those around you. It doesn’t matter how long you’ve ignored those needs - start listening now.

Resilience Building. How can we respond with some appreciation or lightheartedness even in serious or uncertain times? Can you give yourself some flexibility and change your expectations? Can we redraw our boundaries to better support ourselves? School may be closed but going outside isn’t cancelled. Playing isn’t cancelled. Hugs aren’t cancelled. Appreciation is powerful in changing your mindset.

New Map Building. Practice getting your legs under you - find a new balance, take a new perspective. It may take some time and that’s okay. Keep noticing the old pattern, design a new way, and build your muscle of response over reaction. Once you’re steady you can begin charting a new course.

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