Why getting to know yourself & reflect can be a radical act
This article is cross-posted from my weekly newsletter, The Sunday Soother, a newsletter about clarity, intention, and useful tips for creating more meaning in your life that goes out every Sunday morning. Subscribe here. I am also a coach who teaches you mindfulness and thoughtful self-reflection so you can stop second-guessing yourself, make decisions confidently and live the life you’ve always dreamed of. You can learn more about working with me here.
Well, wow. Hi. How are you all? I feel like I’m experiencing constant whiplash due to the past couple of weeks. Gratitude for my health, rising anxiety at all that’s going on. Trying to understand how society will change, and being present in the moment to where I am.
I am a person who tends to be really interested in and reflective about the way us weird humans operate, what things “mean,” how things might affect and change us, and more, and so the potential impacts and meanings and ramifications of coronavirus and how we as a society and individuals are dealing with it have set my head spinning.
Things that have come up for me: All I want is some black and white answers, especially in the arena of moral ramifications. Is it “better” to stay home or is it “better” to go out and support local businesses that will suffer? Is it “better” to order groceries and services online or is it “better” to not do that because gig economy workers’ health will be put at risk? Is it “better” to stay isolated in our homes because of the risk factor or is it “better” to try to find community outside of our homes because isolation can be hell for our mental health?
No answers arise, only a continually muddy swamp of swirling thoughts and, interestingly, some curiosity about what we might all learn from this. Not to minimize the health impacts and very real deaths that have and will continue to happen, but if you know me, and if you’ve read the Soother for a while, I’m just continually interested in reflection and thoughtfulness and ascribing meaning from events, particularly those that are outside of our control.
I don’t think everything “happens for a reason,” but I do subscribe to the belief that we can reclaim a lot of our power, agency and capability in situations that otherwise seem frightening, sad and out of our control if we give ourselves a chance to reflect on what those situations bring up for us and how we might decide to move forward differently because of them.
For me, other than the wanting so badly the black and white “right” answers, and understanding how much I still struggle with ambiguity, I think about how society will be restructured in this pause. What will this slowdown look like? Will we be more rooted in our communities and our families? Will some of us want to leave big cities and move back to smaller towns or places where we grew up, where we know more people? What does it look like to learn about how to better cook for and nourish ourselves and keep our homes stocked with food we make? Will this have an impact on some of us to make us questions what the hell we are doing with our lives? Will entire industries restructure, finally having discovered the capability to really incorporate remote work into their day-to-day, meaning somebody who wants to work in media doesn’t have to move to New York, but could do it from Kansas? Will capitalism FINALLY understand why we need paid sick leave and more flexible working situations? Will some of us want to move into places where we don’t live alone, but perhaps back into family organizations or group houses or intentional communities? (I for one am quite prepared to start The Sunday Soother Commune, if you would like to join me.)
Will we all end this kinder, more understanding, knowing we are, every cell of us, every breath, part of another, part of a collective, that we all truly are one?
I don’t know, but I’m left with thinking about this quote I came across from poet May Sarton on Instagram:
Everything that slows and us down and forces patience, everything that sets us back into the slow circles of nature, is a help.
All we can do now is pause. All we can do is be forced into patience and a situation that is largely out of our control. And if we can, we can reflect on what we each personally want to learn about ourselves and the kind of world we want to live in going forward.
Wash your hands, socially distance yourself, AND, promise me, do this: think about how you want things to be different and better both for you and the world going forward.
Some questions I put together for your own reflection (because what the hell else are we going to do if we’re not leaving our homes other than journal. I mean, we can binge Netflix, but this has a net positive of feeling a little bit more productive):
- In the absence of leadership from others, I ask myself: What does leadership mean to me?
- How do I know if something feels “right” to me?”
- How do I know when something feels “wrong” to me?
- What has surprised me that I’ve learned about myself?
- What is my favorite way to be comforted?
- What does community mean to me?
- How is the current state of my community? Do I need more community? Different community?
- How do I know when I feel safe?
- How do my body and mind react when I do not feel safe? How do I know if I am not feeling safe?
- What is one action I can do on a daily basis to soothe myself?
(You can access these on Instagram here as well as my other #dearselfjournalprompts). I also put out a guide to how to learn to be more slow and will have more resources on that on my Instagram tonight.
Some of my resources I’ve put together (these are all linked just something janky about Tinyletter makes them looked not linked; heads up I am going to try to move off Tinyletter to a better platform soon because it is the woOOooorst):
- My favorite meditations, and some meditation 101
- The Comprehensive Guide to Actually Taking a Proper Social Media Break
- Can we have control in a chaotic world?
- 11 things you can do to stay present in a crazy world
- Tricks to stop negative thinking
- My Morning pages journaling YouTube FAQ video
- My tricks for better sleep
- 27 Pieces of Escapist Media You Can Turn to Since the World is a Dumpster Fire
- Yoga with Adriene (great free online youtube yoga)
- A care package of resources from Annie Wright, a psychotherapist whose work I admire
- Working remotely in the time of Coronavirus
- This meditation on clearing energy & fear for empaths is lovely
If you want to use this time for some further thoughtful self-reflection, writing and journaling, I recommend doing either Susannah Conway’s Word of the Year or her Unravel Your Year Guide, or Katie Hawkins-Gaar’s Treat Your Future Self workbook.
And finally, my podcast this week is on the importance of self-knowledge in an age of chaos. Turning inward may seem “useless” or “selfish,” but to me, deep self-discovery is a radical act. It teaches us about ourselves, what we need, what we can offer others, what we must fight for in this world, and how we can feel lit up. If you don’t intentionally know yourself, I believe you cannot intentionally work to create the conscious world you want. You can listen to that here.
Sending you lots of love and hope and presence and grounding in this time.