How have you overcome a personal struggle during the pandemic?
As we enter week 3,223 of self-quarantine, (or so it seems!) we might find ourselves forced to make even more, or different, accommodations and adjustments than those we already have.
I was talking with my daughter recently about how being stuck at home during the pandemic has forced me to face some things that I usually try to avoid. I’m not a big avoider, but when it comes to TV and social media, whenever I’m exposed to real conflict, confrontation, or anger, I typically click off in a hurry. It makes me uncomfortable and uneasy to witness people engaging in heated disagreements, escalating anger, name-calling, & open disrespect. They are emotional triggers.
In these scenarios, my heart races, and I jump into fight or flight mode. My go-to strategy is to flee. Right. Now. Do not pass go. Do not collect $200. Fleeing can mean leaving the room, changing the channel, clicking on something else. Any distraction will do.
Doing what’s needed to avoid these kinds of situations has only bothered me in the intellectual sense. I wished I was different, but I accepted my avoidance tactics because I understood where they came from. Avoidance and escape are some of my survival mechanisms, and I was good with that. Until recently.
I like data. Databases, writing queries to collect data, and informational reporting are fascinating activities for me. I have a degree in Information Management. I like information in all forms; I guess you could say that information is important to me. So during this time of self-quarantine, it’s essential that I have access to accurate, credible, trustworthy information and reports that help keep my family and me safe and healthy.
On news shows and social media platforms, many times, “information“ is really an individual’s perspective or opinion. And when others don’t share that point of view, nasty disagreements can ensue.
I’m all for having disagreements. There’s nothing inherently wrong with disagreeing with someone. I think sharing and discussing differing viewpoints is healthy and necessary to learn and grow. Differences in opinion and perspective can be voiced in a healthy, respectful, and productive way. My husband and I have differences in opinion, and when that happens, we usually speak calmly, in a respectful tone and demeanor. Often we end up agreeing to disagree. We don’t hurt each other simply because we have differing viewpoints. He’s entitled to his, and I’m entitled to mine. We don’t have to agree on everything. We are individuals.
Differences in points of view can inspire us to question, listen, and learn something new.
What’s not healthy, when disagreeing, is showing blatant disrespect, refusing to listen, judging, offering non-constructive criticism and unsolicited advice, close-mindedness, shouting and name-calling. When those things begin happening on news programs or social media, whether spoken or written, bye-bye, I’m outa there.
You can see how that wouldn’t benefit me in a time of needing and wanting information. I didn’t want only information that aligned with what I already knew or believed; I wanted it all. I wanted to be able to consider other viewpoints and opinions and decide for myself which of them are the most credible or applicable to me. That means that I had to develop the intestinal fortitude to sit through some of those challenges and emotional triggers mentioned above.
Practice makes perfect
Now I’m not going to sit here and tell you that suddenly I’m extremely comfortable witnessing situations that still feel scary and threatening to me. No, not at all.
What’s changed is my willingness to go out of my comfort zone and stay through the scary parts. It may sound ridiculous that it would feel scary when people on TV or social media fight or shout at each other. After all, I’m not involved, I’m in my home, safe, and far removed from any actual threat. But think for a minute about the last scary movie you saw. It had the potential to scare you even though you weren’t personally involved in the story. There you go.
News programs and social media can absolutely instill fear in some of us more than others. If you’ve grown up in a scary, threatening or traumatic home environment, you know what I’m talking about. I hadn’t even realized that these kinds of scenarios were emotional triggers for me until recently. I’d started purposefully seeking out and identifying my triggers awhile ago, and intentionally working to alleviate them. I recognized this as another opportunity.
So I began sitting through the frightening parts, forcing myself to remember that I’m in my own home, that I’m an adult, that I’m safe. Little by little, I began to hear and learn things that I wouldn’t have otherwise. My tolerance for witnessing heated differences of opinion eventually increased. Angry arguments between others began to feel less threatening. That, in itself, broadened my perspective. I found myself more willing to sit through what used to feel intimidating and scary. Having the opportunity to see issues from another’s point of view, and to learn something new, became more important to me than staying in my comfort zone.
My heart doesn’t pound like it used to, and I no longer feel like running from the room. I’m becoming desensitized, and I appreciate that. I can hear shouting, witness open hostility, disrespect, escalating anger, intimidation, and feel anxious about the threat of violence, and still be OK. I’m finding it helpful.
After all, real life doesn’t exist in a bubble. I think these last few weeks of practice, sitting through uncomfortable moments, have helped me understand that I’m stronger and more resilient than I think. I feel emotionally stronger in doing this exercise. I’m going to continue even though it’s still a bit uncomfortable and probably always will be.
What about you?
How have you overcome a personal struggle during the pandemic?
What are the pandemic and self quarantining teaching you about yourself? What have you learned? To share your experience with my readers, go to DianeMetcalf.com/story and send me your story!
Self-care: We can only choose to focus on and be responsible for ourselves, our own thoughts, actions, and behavior. The good news is that we can change ourselves with patience, persistence, and practice. We can take responsibility for getting our needs met, instead of waiting for someone to change or meet our needs for us. We are in control of ourselves and no one is responsible for us but us.
Learn about setting boundaries
Learn about codependency and maladaptive coping skills
Learn about C-PTSD
About the author
Diane Metcalf earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology in 1982 and a Master of Science in Information Technology in 2013.
She has held Social Worker, Counselor and Managerial Positions in the fields of Domestic Violence and Abuse, Geriatric Healthcare, Developmental Disabilities, and Reproductive Health. She is an experienced Advocate and Speaker on the topics of Domestic Violence and Abuse and has been a guest on Lockport Community Television (LCTV), sharing her knowledge and experience regarding Domestic Abuse with the local community. In addition, she experienced Maternal Narcissistic Abuse and has been involved in other toxic relationships. She purposefully learned (and continues to learn) appropriate coping skills and strategies to live happily. She shares those insights here.
Her books and articles are the results of her education, knowledge, and personal insight regarding her own abusive experiences and subsequent recovery work. She is no longer a practicing Social Worker, Counselor, Program Manager or Advocate, nor is she or has she ever been a licensed psychologist.
Currently, Diane runs her own website design company, Image and Aspect, and writes articles and tutorials for Tips and Snips, her inspirational blog for creative people. She continues to learn and write about Emotional Healing.
This website is intended for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional therapy.