For anyone finding it hard to emerge out of lockdown.Nov 23, 2020
To my fellow Melburnians or to anyone who's trying to navigate this post-lockdown world, here are a few thoughts that I've been having about why this transition out of lockdown might be feeling a little challenging for some of us.
Control and boundaries.
To put it flatly, lockdown allowed us to exercise a huge amount of control over our environment. We began our lockdown relinquishing control, but once we settled into all the enforced restrictions, we were able to feel contained, safe, and autonomous in our decision making. And to take it one step further, our decision making process around where we go, who we see and what we do became crystal clear. For many of us, these restrictions gave us a very good reason to say "no".
Personally, lockdown allowed me to say "no" without any sense of guilt or obligation, and this felt both liberating and also like I regained some kind of control over my life.
But now, I'm finding myself slipping back into my old habits of saying "yes" to things when really, I mean "no" because I've got nothing or no one to say "no" for me. I can no longer say, "oh Dan says we can't do that..." instead, I have to create my own boundaries and say "no, I don't want to do that"... which is hard. And it's more the disappointment that I feel towards myself in not being able to maintain my boundaries without external reinforcement, that causes me stress around moving out of lockdown.
"Going back to the way things were."
If you think about the groups of people that keep talking about wanting things to "go back to the way they were before Covid", you might be able to notice a trend that it's these people who benefitted the most from the status quo.
If you are the kind of person who the crowds part for you as you walk through a busy intersection, then maybe yeah, you can't wait for things to go back to the way they were. But if you're the one that's always hustling out of the way for others, then perhaps you're not too keen to "go back to the way things were" because that reality was pretty unimpressive.
This time in lockdown revealed to so many of us that there are a mountain of cultural issues that make life harder and harder for people, the more you move away from being a straight, white, cis-male, able-bodied, educated person. And despite living with a huge array of privilege, I still find myself tensing up whenever I hear these messages about needing things going back to the way they were.
They feel dismissive and as if all of these revelations and movements we had during Covid were just a minor inconvenience. Like; can we just go back to not having to think about the safety of others? Can we go back to ignoring the lack of diversity and representation in the positions that matter?
I'm excited to emerge out of lockdown but I'm not excited about emerging back into the same oppressive system that I've lived within all my life. I'm ready for a new reality that feels more just and kind, but could that ever be?
Change is hard.
Sometimes I think that it's the coming out of lockdown that's hard but then I remind myself that in general, I find "change" difficult. Whether that's going into lockdown, or coming out of lockdown, or daylight savings or starting a new job, it's not really the thing itself that's hard, it's just the fact that things are changing, that's difficult.
And as I remind myself of this, I see that the drama and the intensity around moving out of lockdown seems to ease. Whenever things change, we get a little shaken up and I remind myself that in time, this period of change will pass (and then of course, something else will change).
So what now?
When change unsettles us, it can be a good reminder for us to turn back towards ourselves and ask, "what do I need right now?" And the stronger we find our capacity to ask ourselves this question, the easier it will feel to navigate change.
Whether we're trying to create boundaries, or we're working out what kind of post-Covid world we want to see, or we're just trying to ascertain what exactly it is that's making us feel a little off... this ability to self-reflect plays a foundational role in helping us to re-emerge back into the world.
However if self-reflection is not something that you usually engage with, you might find that asking yourself, "what do I need right now?", gives you nothing but radio silence. If so, know that this is very common (our bodies always protect us from discomfort and it knows that self-reflection is an uncomfortable process), but also know that self-reflection is a learnable skill.
You might find benefit in our online Rest and Reflect program which will teach you the practice of self-reflection through six digestible steps. The program will also teach you how to respond or deal with any of the answers that emerge so that you feel a sense of clarity and ease both through this transition and any other periods of your life. You can learn more about the program HERE.
Additionally, to deepen your capacity to navigate these changing times you might like to ask yourself:
- What have I missed most during these last 7-8 months?
- What have I not missed at all?
- What are some changes that I want to make in my life based on the experiences of the last 7-8 months?
- And what are the first or small steps that I can take to move towards these changes?
It will be exciting to look back on this year and this period, and reflect upon this wild journey that we've all been on together. Until then, let us navigate our way with clarity and ease; always honouring ourselves and each other.
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