Our gift to you this holiday season is something you can give yourself:
Give yourself credit for coping so well with so much.
Let’s start with the pandemic. I know what you might be saying: “I haven’t been coping with the pandemic well at all! I’ve been consumed with anxiety. I’ve made some bad decisions. So much of my life has gone to hell...”
Oh, shut up. I know all that. But think about it. You’ve faced—we’ve all faced—an unprecedented challenge. Something our grandparents and parents never faced. There was no script for dealing with any of this. So of course we’re all beaten up.
But in the face of major challenges, that’s what coping looks like. It’s not like the face on some ad. It’s something much more worn and uncertain. Certainty in the face of this pandemic is completely unearned. Anxiety is inevitable.
Nevertheless you persist.
And it’s not just the pandemic you’ve been dealing with. Politically this country is in a mess. That’s true whatever side of the divide you’re on. I’ve never seen so much resentment, fear, disappointment, rage, and sheer confusion than what people are experiencing when they look out at our country. Where are the happy victors? There aren’t any!
And so there you are. Unless you’re in a small minority, you too are caught up in all this negativity and it’s hard to know how to deal with it.
But you cope. Some of us cope by tuning it all out. Some of us cope by creating a story about how it’ll all turn out okay. Some of us cope—paradoxically—by saturating ourselves in everything that’s going on. But, hey, whatever floats your boat! You are dealing with what for many of us is a terrifying situation. You’re keeping your head above water.
And of course there is the real knife at your throat: job and money. These times have been a great unequalizer, affecting us in very different ways. Some of us have been hit very hard. Jobs, businesses, whole industries have been tossed in the dumpster.
And if you’ve been hit hard, it may have felt as though you’re not coping. More like falling apart. I know.
But one other thing I know is that you are in the process of coping. Even if you feel as though you’re flat on your ass. Lots of the best coping happens while we’re flat on our ass figuring out our next move. Or even just resting and recovering so we can make our next move.
People cope. If you put a gun to my head and asked me to say the simplest truest thing I could possibly say about people, this would be it. People cope. We are resilient. Whatever operas of anxiety and confusion and collapse may accompany our process, we are dithering or staggering or ass-sitting our way towards coping and climbing out of the difficulties we’ve been forced to face.
And right now you’ve done that and are doing that. Which makes you—much as it may not feel like it or seem like it—the hero of your life. Give yourself the gift of saying yes to this.
We wish you Merry Christmas...
Peace and joy to you and everyone you love...
The first picture here is Philip Evergood's American Tragedy (1937). There was no attribution for the lovely second picture. Also for the third picture, of Vietnamese refugees. The last picture is Frederic Edwin Church's River of Light (1877). No idea who did the wild cover picture.