Truckee Tahoe Therapist says go ahead and shout
I often asked my grandmother Sophie, now age 97.5, how she coped with her entire world being turned on its head multiple times. She lived in Europe during World War I. She came to the United States from Hungary in the early 1930s and lived through the Great Depression. She lost her parents and entire extended family in World War II and the Holocaust.
How does a person keep going amidst the upheaval and loss? How does a person retain her spirit and optimism and hope, as my grandmother certainly has?
She tells me nothing is ever exactly how you think it will be, and that is both terrifying and a blessing.
She tells me in a crisis, things are often far worse and horrible than you could imagine. She realized how vulnerable and defenseless she was, and how precarious life is. She had loss and loss and more loss. She saw the destructive capacities of human beings and witnessed horror and hell on earth. She lived hungry and uncomfortably and had to divide limited resources among her babies and children. She was often scared and angry and anxious and had times when she questioned if she could go on.
She tells me that, along with the horror and pain, surprisingly good and amazing things seem to emerge. She tells me she realized she had more strength than she ever believed. She found resources within herself she did not know she had. She learned to ‘live in the moment’ and appreciate every bit of pleasure and joy ” from people to food to fresh air to books to her own thoughts and ideas. She tells me her relationships became more ‘real’ and honest and enduring. She tells me that, on a community and group level, people shifted into ways of connecting that provided support for one another.
The main lesson I take from my grandmother Sophie is I need to do my part to find my own internal strength and to reach out to other people to provide support and to take support from them.
So, as a professional in the field of psychology and counseling, I offer the following reminders about crisis:
1. Your reactions are normal.
You are a human being, and you will have feelings that can change continually across the spectrum, from fear and dread to joy and relief. You might have waves of feeling depressed, angry, guilty, worried, frustrated, powerless, stingy, generous, needy, sick, tired, confused.
There is nothing you can or should do to avoid the roller-coaster of emotions experienced during crisis. Your job is to get the support you need to tolerate the roller coaster without harming yourself or others.
2. Your way of experiencing crisis and coping with crisis is unique.
There is no right or wrong way to feel. If you feel happy, you feel happy. When you feel scared, you feel scared. If it helps you to watch news all day long, then that’s what works for you. If it helps you to watch no news, then that is what works for you. It is you and it is your life.
3. You can only ‘do’ what you can do.
Ask yourself which decisions ” from small to large ” need to be made at this time and do your best to make choices. Then remind yourself it never feels good to make decisions amidst uncertainty and a lack of information. We can only do the best we can.
4. Work on letting go.
Letting go means trying to stay focused on the present moment and ‘being here’ as best as you can, releasing yourself from worries about the future or self-recriminations about the past. Learning to let go is a life-long process. Be kind to yourself. Your job is to simply keep trying.
5. You are not alone.
We need one another in times of crisis. We need to share our thoughts, feelings and ideas. We need to ‘be there’ for one another as we sink into pits of despair, and provide strength for one another.
As you go through the current uncertainty and crisis, ask yourself ‘what are my thoughts, feelings, and ideas about our current economic situation? What helps me get through and cope? Have I had any unexpected positives come from the current situation?’
And then share what you find with other people. We need you. And each other.
” Danielle B. Klotzkin, licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, provides psychotherapy for clients who are looking for a way to move forward through relationship issues, problems with alcohol, drugs, or managing money, eating and body issues, trauma, grief and loss, depression, bipolar disorder and anxiety. You may contact her at (530) 470-2233.
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