Recently I was fortunate enough to hear Dr Lea Water speak in regards to COVID19, and she referenced some particularly interesting research from Virginia Satir, an American author and therapist who studied our response to unexpected trauma.
It is natural to be going on an emotional journey at the moment – and many families will genuinely be “doing it tough”. But with any unexpected change or trauma, is it interesting to know there is a process our brains tend to follow.
We usually start with a sense of shock and inaction, that sense of disbelief we experienced in those first few days and weeks of the emergence of Covid19. And then we have a sharp upswing of positive coping – the time when we got our households in order, we filled the pantry and made plans to adapt to the “new normal”. But again, this is a part of a much bigger process and we cannot expect to continue to function at this high level as isolation, change and sometimes even fear begin to take hold. We swing back down again into feelings of depression, sadness, frustration and anger. Again – these are natural. Satir and Dr Waters call this a period of uncertainty. It is real and largely unavoidable – but not permanent. We will adapt again, find new ways to hope and grow and adapt. The image below shows the model they discussed.
One of the things that assist people to move to a place of growth and resilience and out of the pit of uncertainty, is looking for benefits. This means, starting to really look for and notice the things about our current situation that might actually be better – or opportunities that will make for a better future.
So my challenge to you now as you read this article, no matter how you were feeling when you approached it – is, how might you benefiting from COVID19? How could your family be benefiting?
Certainly our pets are thriving with the company and the exercise, but how might we be?
Personally I have been delighted by the sight of so many families out walking together – and I know many parents have reported to the school that actually this might be a very special time to connect with and spend with their children – precious times before they grow older and leave the metaphorical nest.
As parents there may be lots of things to appreciate in this family time, even little things like rediscovering old and new hobbies like puzzles, reading, board games and getting the old bike out of the shed. There are so many things we may have put aside in the busy-ness of our lives that we could perhaps find time to rediscover and reinvigorate.
Our students and children are probably wonderful at this already – and children are often great examples of resilience. I’ll bet they are benefiting from more sleep, more time with siblings and if we are very lucky, a greater sense of resourcefulness and perhaps even a sense of mastery in the studies if they are actively working independently to improve their skills.
As teachers (and workers of other kinds) after we get through the initial shock and set up, who hasn’t enjoyed learning new skills and surprising our students with a brilliantly planned lesson that uses some new form of technology effectively. And the simple pleasure of seeing the faces of our students on Teams (yes parents – your children are the best part of our day)!
It is possible that after the challenges of this time are met and conquered, we will all be better off – and all that much more aware of what really matters: our purpose, the people around us, and the capacity for small things to bring us joy.
You might have seen this video make the rounds this weekend too – which imagines the positives from many years ahead.
Definitely something to ponder here.