Feeling like your relationships are a bit of an uphill slog at the moment? You’re not alone. When dealing with our own personal challenges, it can feel tough to show up completely, in empathetic and supportive ways, for those around us. Here’s a bit of wisdom from Indigo practitioner, Dafna, on how we can mindfully navigate our relationships through these times…
It is normal that in times of distress and dysregulation our “fight-flight-freeze” nervous system response is activated. We are all leaning into survival mode, and our own unconscious coping mechanisms may (however inconveniently) come into play.
Are you the kind of person who likes to avoid discomfort and your feelings of vulnerability, (common distractions = Netflix, alcohol, food, porn, work) or dive headfirst into panic mode, like a moth to the flame (panic buying, news binging, face-mask and glove shopping obsession)? Do you take comfort in thinking patterns such as denial (“corona what?”), cynicism (“%@#* the government!”), Pollyanna positivity (“all of humanity holding hands at last”), or catastrophising (“it’s the beginning of the end”)?
The unconscious ways in which we deal with our own feelings of anxiety, uncertainty and loss are different, but beneath all of our shields and predispositions we are linked by a common sense of emotional fragility in these tough times. Needless to say, living on top of partners, or in complete separation without the ability to rely on those habits or routines that allow for regular time-outs, catch-ups and self-care doesn’t help! Becoming aware that we are not all the same in how we cope, but may all be feeling vulnerable beneath the surface right now, can go a long way in helping us empathise and connect with loved ones.
In times when empathy feels like a pretty extraordinary, Dalai-Lama-type feat, it’s easier to blame those closest to us than to take responsibility into our own hands.
Nevertheless, after enough mutual pain and resistance, we often come to realise the hard truth – that the only person we have the power to change is ourselves. It may sound like a cliche, but the first step to improving our relationships with loved ones is by working on our own situation and relationship to ourselves.
Self-regulating habits such as mindfulness, meditation, yoga, exercise, journaling and reaching out for support can go a long way in keeping us healthy and keep our reactions in-check. Becoming aware of the way we talk to ourselves and choosing to be our own loving partner is especially helpful when our own real-life side-kick isn’t hitting the spot or alternatively, pushes us right where it hurts!
Being this person for ourselves means forgiving ourselves for our mistakes and less-than-perfect ways, speaking kindly to ourselves in times of pain and despair (imagining what your grandma or best friend would say), and looking out for ourselves through acts of self-care (get creative if the old ones aren’t workable right now).
All of this doesn’t mean we shouldn’t communicate our grievances and needs to our (also) less-than-perfect partners, but taking time to sit lovingly with ourselves, reflect on our situation and make conscious decisions can support our ability to connect more effectively and collaboratively with others.