If we turn away from our own pain, we may find ourselves projecting this aversion onto others, seeing them as somehow inadequate for being in a troubled situation. ~Sharon Salzberg,Real Love: The Art of Mindful Connection
Attachment is a unifying principle that reaches from the biological depths of our being to its furthest spiritual reaches. ~Jeremy Holmes, John Bowlby and Attachment Theory
Why do people have to be this lonely? What’s the point of it all? Millions of people in this world, all of them yearning, looking to others to satisfy them, yet isolating themselves. Why? Was the earth put here just to nourish human loneliness? ~Haruki Murakami, Sputnik Sweetheart
As we adjust to our “new normal” and social distancing, many of us staying “safe at home”, our anxiety may be running rampant. As we are either in close quarters with those we normally live with or are alone because that is our normal, we may find ourselves feeling frustrated and our attachment wounds being activated.
This can have us turning to all kinds of unhelpful or even harmful behaviors. Behaviors that we developed at a young age that were meant to either keep us alive, or are meant to try and get our attachment needs met (in perhaps a very backwards sort of way).
We may find ourselves picking fights.
Pushing people away.
Feeling “clingy” and demanding.
Allowing (untrue, harmful, and hurtful) narratives about others or about ourselves to run rampant in our heads.
Falling back into ultimately harmful relationships (and remember, a relationship doesn’t need to be outright abusive for it to be harmful, any relationship that keeps us stuck in repeating hurtful patterns and cycle and doesn’t encourage our healing and growth, is harmful).
Our anxiety may be over the top.
Our fear of abandonment may be going wild.
So much is happening in our minds and bodies right now as we move through this unprecedented and totally unknown space.
We can find ourselves becoming rigid.
Ultimately stuck, stagnant, repeating patterns and cycles that hurt us and others.
Now is the time for us to slow down.
To find ways to calm our systems, take a half step (or more) back, and to consider situations from a more rational place.
A time to examine if the reaction we are having is based in an old trauma, the present situation, or some combination of the two.
A time to consider how our past pain and hurts are impacting us in the present.
A time to find new, helpful ways, of soothing our systems. Of managing our overwhelm.
A time to shift into softness.
To connect to compassion, for ourselves and others.
To find ways to be more vulnerable, with people who are safe enough.
To explore our own wants, our needs, our desires, for our relationships, for our world, for our Self.
To nurture our own bodies and minds, those we care about and for, our planet.
To consider what fulfills us, what ignites our passions, what gives us a sense of abundance.
To expand, to transform, to evolve.
To move into softness is counter-intuitive when our fear response is activated. It is challenging to do even in the best of times. We live in a culture that encourages us to disconnect, to judge, to be harsh and hard.
Moving into softness can be challenging. It requires self-awareness and a willingness to shift, to grow, to transform. It asks us to come home into our bodies, to learn to sit in the discomfort of our emotions and their bodily sensations, to expand our windows of tolerance so we can respond to situations with love for ourselves, others, and our relationships.
We are in challenging and complex times. Finding ways to calm our systems, to rest, to allow the space for our own evolution is vital. We are at a precipice in the collective, a time for us to decide if we want to continue on in the harmful ways, destroying our relationships and planet, or if we want to shift into a nurturance culture, one of caring, of compassion, of coming together and lovingly encouraging each other to expand outside our comfort zones, to break generations old patterns and cycles, to revolt against all that keeps us apart and to evolve into the people, and the society, we have always dreamed of.
This essay was originally written for my weeklyish newsletter and has been edited for publication here. To receive my most recent essays, you can subscribe here.
Last weekend Sarah Martland (Founder of Trauma & Co) met to figure out ways we can support our community right now. We have changed the pricing the the Trauma & Co Community to make it more accessible to more people, and we’ve also made some changes to what all will be offered in it. We have also brought an offering planned for later this year forward, as well as added an extra pricing level. You can learn more about Resourcing for Complex Times: Supporting Ourselves Through Challenging Experiences here.