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Being Realistic

The last few months have brought a return to the global fear that gripped our world last year due to the pandemic. The Delta variant of the Covid virus has resulted in more stress and anxiety for humanity. Some people have gotten Covid despite being vaccinated. Cases are rising. And now everyone is trying to figure out how to live with this new reality.

I hardly know anyone who has not had more stress in their lives now than prior to 2020. And yet we must soldier on.

It is unrealistic and sometimes can actually be damaging to have expectations that every aspect of our life will be okay all at once. At least not now.

Many people are finding themselves dealing with multiple crises at once. People are exhausted. How do we keep going?

First, we tackle and resolve what we can solve, finding solutions to eradicate our problems as best as we can. But what if some problems cannot be solved? What about a person with so many crises that all they can do is keep their head above water, day after day?

I once worked with a psychiatrist in a hospital where we treated adult survivors of severe childhood trauma. The doctor told a group of patients during a psycho-education group, “Perfectionism is shame management." She went on to explain that nobody is perfect, and when we expect perfection we’re in a constant state of shame. It was a very freeing thought for many people who had suffered trauma and lived with unhealthy and untrue messages about their worthiness.

Some days all we have energy for is the minimal output of tasks and responsibilities. Some days we can get more done. Right now, if you are struggling with many stressors, and feel like you’re just trying to get through the day, how about letting go of the shame and the expectation of perfectionism? Try letting go of the idea that you can only be happy when everything is right. Remind yourself how unrealistic this is. And be kind to yourself.

When we have multiple crises we can only deal with one at a time. While focusing on one issue, other problems are left alone. Have you ever noticed how sometimes things work out in time, even when we do nothing?

Think of the value of meditation, making art, sports, or exercise where we focus our attention on the task at hand. In these experiences, all we can think about is what we are doing. There is great value in living our day-to-day lives with this level of focus.

From where I sit, it seems that most people are truly doing their best. So try and cut others some slack right now. And while you are at it, cut yourself some slack too.

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