STANDING IN OUR STRENGTHS
By Martha Fagan, RN, BSN
Teddy Roosevelt gave us some sound guidance when he said, “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.” And here we are beginning our fourth week of sheltering in place and social distancing, hoping to avoid a frightening bout with the Coronavirus.
Last week I wrote about strengthening our resilience during these challenging times, describing resilient people in this way:
Resilient people see both the good and the bad of what’s in front of them and consciously invest and focus their attention and energy into the good.
When I say “consciously invest and focus their attention and energy into the good”, I’m referring to recognizing our potential and relying on our strengths to invest and take steps toward crafting a better outcome. We dig deep within and find our inner strengths to support us in times of uncertainty and stress.
Think about times in the past when you have faced substantial adversity— illness, a death of a loved one, family strife, divorce, career challenges or financial distress. Somehow you came through all those turbulent times and are here now facing yet another one of life’s many hurdles. The adage “This too shall pass” may seem trite and overly simplistic AND it’s true.
Let’s remind ourselves that we come from a heritage of courage; whatever our ancestry there was struggle and bravery to get us to where we are.
As we reflect back at our own history, remembering times we rose above obstacles and pain, we’ll discover we found many ways to sustain ourselves using our strengths. Maybe we used kindness as a way to mitigate the pain, we discovered our creativity, we found new ways to look at things gaining perspective, we laughed relying on humor to counter our tears, we showed gratitude for what we still had, we used curiosity to learn new things, we used strategies to calm ourselves, we persevered and we loved deeply.
As long as we remain healthy, each of us will find a way through this. Even if we get sick the majority of us will get well and return to health.
How we manage to get through this is what’s most important for our well being. As we find our way through working from home, home schooling, acquiring food safely, social distancing and daily levels of worry we are crafting our story of these times and creating memories. We are each experiencing this in very different ways AND we are also sharing the experience collectively.
Next week I’ll write in detail about Character Strengths, which are defined by the VIA Institute on Character as “…core capacities for thinking, feeling, and behaving in ways that can bring benefit to oneself and others.” Identifying our core strengths helps define who we are and what we do when we are at our best. They give language for the good within us and empower us to rely on our capacity to manage heroic moments such as these.
Visit https://www.viacharacter.org/ to learn more and take a free assessment. At times such as these we can use all the tools available to help us along.
For now I’ll close with a poem of hope.
Kitty O’Meara wrote the poem below in one sitting while home reflecting on what this pandemic means to our world.
And The People Stayed Home
And the people stayed home. And read books, and listened, and rested, and exercised, and made art, and played games, and learned new ways of being, and were still. And listened more deeply. Some meditated, some prayed, some danced. Some met their shadows. And the people began to think differently.
And the people healed. And, in the absence of people living in ignorant, dangerous, mindless, and heartless ways, the earth began to heal.
And when the danger passed, and the people joined together again, they grieved their losses, and made new choices, and dreamed new images, and created new ways to live and heal the earth fully, as they had been healed.
May you recognize your own capabilities and capacities to live in this moment in the best way possible for you; doing that will help us all.
Martha Fagan is the Vice Chair of the Bacon Free Library. She may be reached through her email her at [email protected].