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Organized Desk


The Social Isolation Transformation: A Misleading Message

Updated: Dec 15, 2020

You’ve seen them. The posts on Instagram or Facebook suggesting that ‘Now! Now is the time to become your best self.’ You know, paint that painting. Learn to be a great cook. Organize your house like Marie Kondo. Learn that new language. It’s the Social Isolation Transformation.

And it’s really off base.

In my work, I’ve spent a lot of time talking about how to build safety and security during this wildly uncertain time. I’m hearing from people who are not sure that they will have their jobs in the next few weeks and who aren’t sure when their children will go back to school. They’re watching the news and seeing a stream of information about medical and economic crises. Oh, and I’m hearing the biggest question of all, “What if I (or we) get sick? Or die?”

As humans, we are experiencing chronic stress. I can’t help but look at this through the lens of how we best manage traumatic stress. Traumatic stress is defined by the National Childhood Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN) as a psychological response to an experience of an intense event that threatens or causes harm to emotional and physical well-being.

So, in terms of what people are experiencing with today’s current events, financial and medical concerns are threatening the overall physical, emotional, and psychological well-being of people. How will I survive if I’ve lost my job? What will we do if we get sick? What if my loved one dies? This certainly fosters the experience of chronic stress, and for some of us, it may be traumatic.

Would you respond to someone with these concerns by saying, ‘Hey, you know what you should do? Focus on becoming your best self.’? Nope. Or at least I hope you’ll reconsider doing so.

A compassion-based approach is called for here, with some understanding about how our bodies respond to stress. Allowing yourself to engage in activities that help soothe your system or to distract away from distressing thoughts for a bit may be what’s called for. Believing that you need to do these things to alter, or transform, your worth as a human is not, and may actually increase your level of stress.

So, don’t buy into the beautiful graphic designs with the message to create a social isolation transformation. Resist believing that you’re doing something wrong if you can’t go there. Understand that your only job right now is to focus on safety, security and survival. And, remind yourself that it is ok if you don’t know exactly how to navigate this path. None of us have done this before, and we will all be in the position of healing from this global wave of change.

Look for my next post which will have some strategies that I hope will help you regulate and focus on self-care.

Take care. Stay home. Stay safe. Be well.

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