A Therapeutic Series by Aimee Le Zakrewski Clark
I recently got inspired by a dynamic college friend, David Kidder, who posted the quote: “Never Waste a Good Crisis.” by the great Winston Churchill.
This is not a new concept. However, it is also not a mainstream way of thinking during these days of COVID. In my 40+ years of life this is the first time I’m experiencing something like what is happening now: a global shutdown; a global crisis. I mean – WHOA. The adjustment is no joke! People are swimming in a sea of worry, fear, and doubt and trying not to straight up drown.
So, it seems to me that NOW would be THE time to infuse the meaning of that quote into brains of all ages.
Because when we do, we reframe this whole crisis as an opportunity. We become innovative. We become generous and supportive of our community. We create a new sense of community overall. We connect and reconnect with family and friends within our homes and beyond. We reprioritize. We become resourceful. We practice discipline and resilience. We gain respect for people that we may have been taking for granted. We gain compassion for those whom we know are suffering. We gain gratitude for what we have, and what others provide. We gain humility. We get creative with our every day. We find solutions. We simplify. We reset. We search for a sense of calm and peace. We trust. We slow down, gain insight, and potentially deeper thought on our place in this world…our purpose.
Overall, we can eventually THRIVE. That’s right. Thrive.
Look at the words in bold up there: opportunity, innovative, generous, supportive, community, connect, reprioritize, resourceful, discipline, resilience, respect, compassion, gratitude, humility, creative, find solutions, simplify, reset, peace, trust, gain insight, purpose.
Those are words that lead a person places they’ve never gone before. We are being challenged. And challenges come to bring us to the next level when you choose that path towards thriving.
Right now, many of us are in the mode of survival. It’s okay to be there right now. See if you be there CONSCIOUSLY, knowingly. Visualize yourself in the middle of the ocean, treading water, with your face barely above it, and you can see the shore. You can breathe, your strong enough to stay afloat, but not ready to actually start swimming there. Take a moment to look at that shore. And KNOW, you will have enough mind and body strength to get there. You will walk onto the shore and then eventually run towards thriving.
Even if your mind wanders to the “but hows” and “what wills” and the “what ifs” – keep saying to yourself, “I’m going to make it through and come out stronger. I’m going to thrive”.
I understand that some may be very skeptical about how the heck to thrive in this situation...that minimizing the fearful voice may be impossible. This will not happen all at once. This is a process and a practice. And – alas! I have created a list of SIMPLE mindset reframes using each of the above words to get you on that path to thrive:
1. Opportunity: Use this time as an opportunity to do two things you’ve always wanted to do, but never had the time: (1) one thing with your family/children and (2) one thing with yourself.
2. Innovative: This is an opportunity to do new things. Many of us are putting on hats we never thought we’d wear (teacher, author, therapist, philanthropist, toilet paper sharing advocate, and let’s not forget our newly appointed Emotional Support Animals). Innovation can come in many different ways. You can invent something new. You can create a service, workbook, podcast, or maybe a product that specifically supports the new normal that this social distancing is creating. Or, you can just be innovative with how you’re going to do Physical Education each day that you are now homeschooling.
3. Generous: This is an opportunity to discover your inner philanthropist. Generosity comes in many ways – whether it’s donating money to charities that are supporting the elderly, offering to do an online lesson for those of us not so good with math, hosting an online therapy group, or teaching a virtual art class…there are countless ways to show your generosity.
4. Supportive: This is an excellent time to ask for – and provide – help. Sometimes this comes in a way of just listening and empathy. And sometimes this comes in a way of finances or food. Ask yourself, "What will be my way of showing support?" and "Who will I ask for help if I need it?"
5. Reprioritize: This is an opportunity to reevaluate and regroup as you enter this new normal. Think about how you were spending your time, money, and mind space. What is most important to you? What is most necessary? What can you afford? What do you want to afford? What kinds of thoughts do you want driving your mind? Sit down and list them out.
6. Resourceful: This is an opportunity for you – and your children – to learn about being street smart. Ask for help. Look for help. It’s out there. Whether you need someone to talk to, a food item, to find out about unemployment, financial questions, homeschool worksheets, etc. the key is: FIND THE ANSWER.
The resourceful thing goes both ways: look for resources and see how you can be a resource for others. If you’ve got knowledge to drop – drop it like it’s hot. And if you need information – seek it out. You are one google search or phone call away from learning how to draw a unicorn, finding stress relieving tools, or how to make a gourmet meal in your crockpot out of the canned foods you have in your cupboards.
7. Discipline: This is an opportunity to develop discipline. Repetition and Practice are the two things that equal a discipline. Many of us are embarking upon unchartered waters – one that requires adhering to boundaries and structure. All of us are being asked to stay inside of our homes. Some are being asked to homeschool. Others to completely switch to a home office environment, where a whole set of new distractions are in place. We are needing to be more disciplined with money, food, time, space, emotions, etc. Sit down and make a game plan for yourself and your family. When will your day start? How will the day go? Who will spend time where?
8. Resilience: This is an opportunity for you to practice going with the flow. Resilience is everything. The ability to face adversity and move through it like a ninja is a practice that will support you in all of life. It stops you from getting stuck. Many are getting their first lessons in resiliency, especially our children. Creating a resilient mind can begin with an encouraging and can-do mindset. Say to yourself, and others, "You got this. We got this."
9. Respect: This is an opportunity for you to lessen judgment and increase respect in your mind space. Lots of mind agitation comes from judgement. There is an abundance of resources, information, and positive energy from the people around you. Be open to it.
10. Community: This is an opportunity for you to find and/or strengthen your community. A sense of community and belonging is so uplifting. When we have community, we never feel alone. Take time to sit and get clarity on the communities that you exist in. If you do not have one, find one, create one. Most likely, you are not alone. Look on Facebook for groups. If there isn’t one, start one. For example: we decided to start a Facebook page for our neighborhood. We created the page and then put little notes inside of the mailboxes. Now, we are all introducing ourselves, sharing what we do, and offering the resources we have.
11. Connect: This is an opportunity to get more vulnerable; to get closer. SO MANY PEOPLE AND FAMILIES NEED THIS. Sorry to yell, but as a Marriage and Family Therapist for over 18 years, the disconnect that has come my way is profound. This is a huge opportunity to slow down and be very present with your partner, children, family, and friends. With YOURSELF. To create even a deeper sense of love.
This is also an opportunity to reconnect - reach out to those you haven’t made time for. It is so easy to get lost in life and not connect to the people we care about. Some people go months without even a “hello”. I have found myself going through my internal rolodex of people I love and reaching out to them. With the redistribution of priorities and time, I can do that. I want to do that. Bottom line: Find one way to connect with yourself, your partner, your child, family, and friends in a way that you haven’t. Maybe it’s doing a daily family regimen like this one.
12. Compassion: Just like with respect, this is an opportunity to replace judgement with compassion. When in doubt, have compassion. Be compassionate to yourself: give yourself permission to get consciously stuck in your yuck (worry, fear, depression), to be in your emotions (safely, and not onto others). And when it comes to others: try to turn every judgmental thought into a compassionate one.
13. Gratitude: This is an opportunity to show that you are grateful. Express gratitude to everything – from the food on your plate, to the teachers that have done amazing at that job you are just trying to learn. There are so many ways for you to do that: from making eye contact with the grocery employees and saying, “Thank you!”, to sending a note to a friend who is in the medical field, to writing a daily “I am grateful for…” social media post, to thanking your chickens for eggs, or the Earth for its soil. Find one thing each day to be thankful for – and show gratitude.
14. Humility: This is an opportunity to be vulnerable. It’s okay to ask for help. It’s okay to be scared. It’s okay to admit you don’t know what to do. It’s okay to want to crawl up in a ball and cry. Give yourself permission to consciously be in those moments. And if you get stuck there, share about it, cry about it, then do something about it, such as ask for help.
15. Creative: This is an opportunity for you to get creative in a dozen ways. Whether it be figuring out what the heck to do with your kids, communicating with friends you usually see, redefining how you exercise, or finding ways to make the food on your shelves last longer – it is a fantastic time to get creative with it. Look around your house and make something out of nothing. Do the #covidkaraokechallenge! And if you need help getting inspired...say it with me...ask for help!
16. Find Solutions: This is an opportunity for you to learn to never, ever, ever, think there is not a solution. Sure, it may feel that way for a moment – let yourself feel that (see Compassion), then ask and look for help (see Supportive, Resourceful, and Community).
17. Simplify: This is a huge opportunity to live life in a simple way. If you’re hungry, eat. If your tired, sleep. If you’re cold, get a blanket. If you’re feeling claustrophobic, get some fresh air. If you want to sing, sing. If you want to dance, dance. Feeling tight? Stretch. Feeling frustrated: scream (into a pillow, not at someone). Your main responsibility right now is to stay home and stay healthy. Whether you are with yourself, or your family – life’s demands and priorities just greatly shifted from 100 to about five.
18. Gain Insight: This is an opportunity for you to do some research and explore different perspectives - especially if you are stuck in your negative thoughts. Gain insight from resources that are knowledgeable and those whom can lift you up. Sometimes this is a friend or a professional. Sometimes this is a something spiritual. Hey, and sometimes it's an uplifting article!
19. Reset: This is an opportunity to swing to the other side of life, slow the heck down, and reset. The reality is, most of us need that. Not just with the external logistics of life (everyone usually is doing too much), but in your internal self as well. Reset your brain, try to empty it out a little bit, so you can refill it with more productive and positive thoughts, feelings, goals, etc.
20. Peace: This is an opportunity for you to find some inner peace. When we can find inner peace amid extreme chaos, it strengthens our overall self. This would be a great time to google “five minute meditations”. Heck, start with two minutes if that works better. Or, just breathe in PEACE and CALMNESS ten times in the morning, and ten times before bed.
21. Trust: This is an opportunity to level up in how you view life in the world. When we are in Trust we kryptonite the hell out of Fear. Trust that all of this was brought to you for a reason, and something good can come out of even the most daunting challenges. While you’re adjusting to the new normal, and unsure of the unknown, create a mantra of Trust. Whether your trust is to a God, Nature, your pet, the Universe, Science, etc – it doesn’t matter…focus on reinforcing the concept of trust into your brain, heart, body, and soul. Choose Trust as one of the positive thoughts you will breathe in at the end of your daily regimen (see Connect).
22. Purpose: this word…this word is EVERYTHING. As a therapist, my whole purpose is to help others find theirs. Purpose gives life meaning; it motivates us to get up in the morning. It helps us to keep moving when we feel stuck, or even defeated. What is YOUR purpose? Take some time to think about that. Maybe during this time, you will truly discover that.
22 words = 22 ways that you can reframe this crisis. It doesn’t matter which one you start with, you just need ONE or TWO to get you swimming towards that glorious shore and on that beautiful path to thriving. Maybe you won’t experience all 22. Let us just say that you won’t. Even just one can be life changing and create a domino affect. One experience can easily influence another. Let’s play out one little movie:
You start with the goal to Simplify or start a new Discipline in your home. It’s time to Reprioritize. You struggle with that, so you choose to practice Humility and Compassion for yourself…and you look to your Community and your Resources to Find Solutions. In doing that, you Gain Insight on something new, something Creative, and/or perhaps something Innovative! Through all of this, you practice Resiliency, you potentially Connect (or reconnect) with someone, who is Generous with their time, care, and resources. Overcome and wanting to show deep Gratitude for their Support, you air hug, or share some toilet paper. You gain or regain a newfound Respect, not just for them, but for yourself and how this whole world works. You Reset behaviors and ways of thinking that probably really need it. Seeing this, and allowing yourself to be open to this experience, supports you with feeling a sense of Peace and Trust. Perhaps you even chuckle to yourself at how this profound experience all began with you looking to Simplify, and now it has brought you a new Opportunity. And, perhaps, even a more defined idea of your Purpose.
Today is the day to make the choice to reframe your perspective when it comes to this crisis.
Every single one of these reframes can lead to a deeper, stronger, sense of yourself, life, and relationships. It can lead to new perspectives and clarity. It can lead you to Thrive. Just start with one.
(Stay tuned for additional supporting articles on many of these 22 reframes)!
Aimee is a Marriage and Family Therapist with a Holistic approach. She has been in practice for over 18 years. As her practice evolves in different ways, she has always been drawn to the Emotional Intelligence (EQ), Stress Care, and how this all is connected through the mind, body, soul, and relationships. www.thegrowthvigilante.com