WE’RE RUNNING A MARATHON…NOT A SPRINT
By Martha E. Fagan, RN, BSN
“Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass. It’s about learning how to dance in the rain…” ~Vivian Greene
Can it possibly be May? We are heading into week eight of social distancing and sheltering in place and the reality is… we really don’t know where we’re headed. To say these times are challenging is an understatement! They’re continuing longer than we ever imagined and returning to “normal” as we knew it may not be in sight in the near future or possibly (more likely) ever. It’s quite daunting to ponder where we’re ultimately headed.
Having said this (which is true though not so uplifting) I want to remind us that this is our current NOW and that’s all we have available to us or any control over. It’s up to us to choose how we are in this moment, in the NOW.
In other words it’s time to learn how to dance in the rain.
Martin Seligman, considered the Father of Positive Psychology, identified 3 P’s that hinder our growth through adversity:
Permanence — this tough time will last forever
Pervasiveness — this will affect all areas of our life
Personalization — it affecting us more than anyone else
Thankfully, we have the choice to choose a different attitude than these 3 P’s. For more than 20 years Seligman researched the concept of learned optimism; the ability to break an “I—give up” habit and actively cultivate a more positive interior dialogue.
The stories we tell ourselves shape our current experience, how we get through it and how we show up once the situation is resolved.
Amanda Lindhout, a Canadian freelance foreign correspondent, was kidnapped while reporting in Somalia in 2008. She was just 27 at the time. Amanda was held captive for 15 months, and subjected to every form of torture, including rape. What we’re experiencing right now, isolated in our homes, is nothing compared to hers.
Here is a video of her amazing story:
She asserts our survival and ultimate growth depends on the stories we tell ourselves and the ability to lean into our resilience and away from our despair.
“The normal trajectory of human experience is that life will bring you to your knees at some point, if it hasn’t yet. We try to ready ourselves for what life might throw our way, but I know that not everybody is building that muscle of resilience, and it is that which carries you through.” — Amanda Lindhout
So the question to ask ourselves daily when we’re impatient with this process, when we feel so discouraged with the vitriol of the news cycle and fear rises up inside is “What am I going to lean into and give my attention to?” We feed one or the other…despair and overwhelm or hope and conviction that we have the strength and tools within us to persevere.
Brian Johnson, founder of the “Philosophers Notes” and “Optimize +1,” two organizations dedicated to pursuing what brings people to greatness, sums it up perfectly with this quote…
“Here’s to having the Wisdom to know the game we’re playing, the Self-Mastery to play it well, the Courage to do what needs to get done whether we feel like it or not and the Love to remember what it’s all about.
“Plus the Hope to see a better future (knowing we’ve got what it takes and the willingness to explore multiple pathways to get there), the Gratitude to appreciate all that’s awesome right now, the Curiosity to see how we can optimize a little more and the Zest to go out and rock it.”
And, dancing really does help!
Martha Fagan is the Vice Chair of the Bacon Free Library. She may be reached through her email her at [email protected]