Our world has changed and while this sounds logical in nature, we find ourselves moving across a time when there’s no rulebook and no way to predict how it’s all going to play out. The rolling news coverage, empty shelves at the local grocery stores and concern swirling conversations among adults can quickly overwhelm the mind and body. Is it “social distancing” or can we use “physical distancing” instead? So much to think about and experience. So what are some tools for coping with social distancing?
Meet…a newer world with an endless display of improvement options that guides a heart in directions it had no idea it wanted. The outpouring of generosity and creativity from teachers, artists, entrepreneurs and other helpers has been incredible. And while good things are stemming from hard things, there can also be hard things in good things.
Now meet…overwhelm or what some might term, analysis paralysis. When the world shows you too many options, the default mode can be to back away and not make any desired shift or change. Perhaps like you, I am seeing and hearing about this now…with families, educators and others. Do I recommend to families they start their day with a family meeting? Or maybe they should start their day with a most important task? Or maybe lead with a bunch of smaller, easier routines and then a more difficult task? How long should we try to get outside? What if it rains? Will this book be a good choice or do we need something different?
I had someone ask me the other day, “…I know all of this information is meant to help, but it’s creating something new and hard. When will it end so I can just feel normal again?”
“In the end, it cannot be doubted that each of us can see only part of the picture. The doctor sees one, the patient another, the engineer a third, the economist a fourth, the pearl diver a fifth, the alcoholic a sixth, the cable guy a seventh, the sheep farmer an eighth, the Indian beggar a ninth, the pastor a tenth. Human knowledge is never contained in one person. It grows from the relationships we create between each other and the world, and still it is never complete.”
-Paul Kalanithi, When Breath Becomes Air
There are different ingredients and ways to have a fulfilled day. I’m just not sure there is a best way rather than simply, a way. People need something they can relate to during this time. But people are describing they no longer know what their recipe is, or what their child’s recipe or teen’s recipe is. So, they look to the experts, who sometimes present too many good ingredients, too much information to choose from.
Imagine that classic chocolate chip cookie recipe you memorized as a kid and have baked time and again ever since. What if you forgot the recipe, and various experts suggested that you add all manner of ingredients–chocolate, chips, sprinkles, icing, caramel? You might wind up with a sticky, overly-sweet mess. Knowing what ingredients work best in your recipe is essential. So, here are some tools for coping with social distancing and uncertainty.
We need to help ourselves and others choose wisely when routines feel different, we can’t remember our personal recipes and our minds would rather escape to rainbows with pots of gold?
Rethink your north star: What do I want most for myself, my family, and others I support right now and why? Return to or identify with your why. A motivational speaker, Simon Sinek, believes that starting with why you do what you do can help you move forward with more purposeful action. And it’s important to remember, now and always, that purpose doesn’t always come at the start but once you are on your journey. Remember, Julia Child was cooking for well over a decade before teaching to the masses! And as inspiration to those of us trying something new these days, the famous chef first enrolled in culinary school at age 37! So many of us are now being asked to try new things — we are being given a new map — give yourself time to find and rethink your north star as one of your tools for coping with social distancing.
See something new as a project: Author and entrepreneur, Tim Ferriss, sees new ideas and directions as two week experiments. If it works and is enjoyed, he extends his commitment and looks at it as a six month project or longer. This is certainly a time where we’re being asked to be additionally flexible and open to opportunities. Perhaps some things can be thought of as a project — choose a timeframe, try things out, and reflect.
Realize you’re super cool already: Know yourself, know your strengths, be open to learning, and try to do better where you can while looking within (not while looking at others).
Know it’s about relationships and experiences and all the people we meet along the way. Sometimes “the work” and emotions involved can get in the way of genuine human connection. Take time for understanding — it’s often a most important ingredient.