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Resiliency in Uncertain Times

Thursday, October 15, 2020   (0 Comments)
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 By Molly Molloy, MSW LCSW 


Molly will be presenting at the NWRPCA/CHAMPS 2020 Virtual Fall Primary Care Conference at 9-10AM PT on 10/22.


As I sit in my home office/bedroom/dog kennel/gym, I have had time to think about what resilience looks like for me. As a counselor and as a supervisor and well a friend, I have seen and heard some difficult things. But I have never seen and heard stories like I am now. COVID has taken those that were already struggling with burnout or secondary trauma, and ripped off the Band-Aid. And now, all of the struggles and hurts have been magnified. Many of us have been practicing skills that enhance our resiliency but this virus is challenging even the most practiced.


Grief, yes, is a reality right now. Some call this time collective loss or ambiguous loss. This is about loss of ‘normal’ and having no clear resolution to the circumstances leading to grief. Grief, comes like the tide, sometimes gentle and sometimes a full-on tsunami. In a recent conversation with a health care professional who has been experiencing a lot of loss, we were discussing that as providers, we know the skills practices, the mindfulness that we need to be healthy through this pandemic, yet sometimes, we eat the mozzarella cheese sticks. Sometimes we make other choices or survive using practices that maybe are not the healthiest. It is okay to be human and to struggle. I say, to you and to me, I have to say, it is okay. Okay as long as we pick up and continue to try to practice the skills we need to continue our work.


The question is, what does resiliency looks like right now? And what it will look like when we come out on the other side of this pandemic. Resiliency in its definition is about an objects ability to retake its shape. Truthfully, I don’t know if I want to re-take shape, or for our world to re-take the shape of how it has been. This time of reflection is an invitation to realize what is most important to me.


Self-compassion experts, Kristin Neff and Christopher Germer (2018) say that self-compassion features three core elements; self-kindness, common humanity and mindfulness. It is so easy to speak to a friend with compassion, but we often do struggle to speak to ourselves with kindness. It is easy to believe self-kindness is about making an excuse, that if we are critical of ourselves, that we will be more successful or productive. In reality – it creates feelings of immense failure and triggers our bodies defense systems (think fight, flight, freeze). During this time, it is easy to fall off the self-care train, in these moments, I let myself feel it, and work on a little bit of radical acceptance that these are just thoughts. Sometimes I cry and then pick up and keep going.


In these moments of struggle, it is important to be mindful of the present. They say that anxiety exists in the past and in the future, but not in the present. Staying here, allows us to be okay – now. When this pandemic started, many said “we are all in the same boat.” Well, I think we are all in the same storm, but we are all experiencing it differently. We all brought our collective experiences to this pandemic. If we were already “crispy fried” out, what does that do to our ability to practice the skills required to stay healthy and well. If we have just faced a lot of change what are we already grieving? But, we can know that we are in fact all experiencing a pandemic. We are not crazy for our thoughts and feelings – they are real and it’s okay. No one knows how to pandemic well, so coping without judgment is a necessity. It becomes important to practice sitting with discomfort and accepting the moments as just that, moments.


Please join me at the Fall 2020 Primary Care Conference to continue the conversation on resiliency, self-compassion and a little bit of ‘both and’ thinking. See you there!









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