“If you’re in the middle of the ocean with no flippers and no life preserver and you hear a helicopter, this is music. You have to adjust to your needs at the moment.”
I went into the vet’s office the other day. I walked up to the temperature thingy-dingy just as I have for the past year or so, since they started letting us cautiously come back into the office with our fur babies. The temperature check machine was broken. The Vet Tech waved it off and said, “Don’t worry about it.”
It just felt so… wrong! Like walking into a store and seeing actual mouths on people. Remember when the masks looked weird? Now whole faces seem somehow strange – even dangerous. We’ve programmed ourselves to see human faces as dangerous. Wow.
(It’s The Mushrooms Again)
That’s exactly how we as human beings assess safety. (See my blog, “People Are Not Mushrooms” for a more thorough explanation.) Our bodies work overtime to find patterns so that they can keep us away from perceived threats. We cut deep neural paths for these associations so that we are much more likely to default to the safe path than not. The body has met its goal; We are still alive.
The downside is that these attempts at safety very often over-generalize, jjjuuussssttt iiinnn ccccaaasseeee. We run the risk of seriously limiting our lives and experiences to support an illusion of safety when there is no actual threat.
Because the Last Two Years Weren’t Weird Enough…
Now we are in this weird in-between place. COVID is still very much here and still very contagious, with all of its Borg-like variants constantly seeking new ways to infiltrate our bodies and lives. However, with vaccines and boosters and all of that, it isn’t as lethal and wily of a threat as it was at first. Throw all of your “set it and forget it” patterned safety responses out the window; The landscape went and changed completely once again. Rah.
While you’re at it, it really is time to check the temperature on your relationships as well. Crap. Are you waving that assessment off because it feels like too much effort to deal with? I’m going to guess that, like the rest of us, you have slipped back into at least some old, less-than-healthy patterns with the people who matter to you most.
Surviving is Only Baseline
I often quote Maya Angelou on this: “Surviving is important, but thriving is elegant!” Surviving is important. In fact, it’s the first order of business. It’s also a pretty low bar. Don’t you want more than that?
Many of us were doing lots of great work moving into thriving in our relationships when COVID-life stopped us cold, pushing into captivity. Listening to all of the families I work with, my friends and observing my own family, most of us have conceded to patterns that would be less healthy at other times, but that was the best we could do while managing all of, you know, that.
Balance is a Moving Target
I think it was a wise choice. Surviving is pretty important. If we want to survive well, we have to balance. If we’re going to balance in a time where the load of everyday life is significantly heavier than it had been, balance looks very different.
And now… things have changed again. It’s time to consciously consider the patterns that have become our defaults. Do they still move us forward to something better? Or are they just familiar? The “homeostatic dancefloor” as mentioned in the guest blog found here does have the ability to keep us going, and also the ability to leave us miserable. Homeostasis will usually help us survive, but thriving requires conscious intentions.
If you want to have a satisfying, fruitful life and healthy enough relationships, you would do well to take a temperature check on your relationships. See if there aren’t some things that you were trying to un-learn prior to the pandemic that may have gone by the wayside. Do you really want the less-healthy pattern baked in for good? If not, now would be a great time to reconsider.
Were there things you knew weren’t working well, but you hadn’t figured them out before the craziness of COVID-life sopped up your energy and internal resources? Guess what? It’s probably time to go back to work on those things.
Maybe you had some really good relationship habits that were serving you well, and then found them fraying with the constant pull of stress on your life. Check that temperature, friend! Don’t you want those things back? What will it take?
Not All Clear Yet
We certainly are not back to “normal” yet. In fact, we don’t even have a “new normal” that we can count on being around for a while. At the same time, many of us are going out in public more, connecting in ways that had been forgotten, and working our jobs differently in a way that causes less stress. It’s time to check in with ourselves and our relationships again. Let’s toss out anything that was temporary and keep moving toward our healthiest, most meaningful lives.
What’s the temperature of your relationships?
Would you like help checking the temperature of your relationships? Contact Tiffany today. Let’s make a plan!