Something moved in me last evening to pick up Pass the Peas, Please; A Book of Manners by Dina Anastasio. The cute illustrations by Katy Keck Arnsteen brought the fun rhyming poetical style of Anastasio’s version of manners to ease the tension that I had been fighting in my mind all day. Well written children’s illustrated books have a way of doing that for adults. While I no longer have a young child to read to, I have learned that the hurting child inside of me may need to be read to.
A recent event trigger painful personal hurts with my family of origin and experiences with the church. Steady and deep emotional trauma shot through my mind wearied from 36 days of social isolation due to COVID-19 and impending severe weather that had been repeatedly interrupting my day with forecast predictions. My reaction to a zoom meeting was steeped in irrational emotion that refused to be reasoned with.
Strong feelings so often extend beyond the realm of logic. While the feelings in and of themselves are neutral, how we respond to them often tips the scales in a direction to make matters worse. Because of this many have advocated that emotions must be ignored, denied, and run over by cold calloused facts/truth. However, this teaching has led to many an unexplained illness, migraine, inability to receive consolation, anxious depression, and irreparable relationships. It has also led to the age of self-help and perpetual personal counseling.
This age has helped to verbalize and validate pain for many. I believe this very instrumental to overcome the pain in order to convert it into a platform for positive growth. But unfortunately, how the wounded articulate their pain and ask for help often creates a vortex of greater relationship damage and self-fulfilled prophesy of victimization that is entitled to everyone else’s sympathies.
To make matters worse, some know that the emotionally wounded individuals are easy to recruit to enlist in activist this or that. It creates a passion that propels a cause. Some would also argue that this is what has corrupted many an organization. It certainly has ruined many a budget as people vouch to give beyond what the coffers hold. Wounded people are easier to manipulate through false hope and empty promises. Marketing experts love to capitalize on this.
Currently the world faces the fears, uncertainties, and problems associated with COVID-19. Ana Maria Rodriguez, Florida State Representative District 10 posted on her Face Book page an thoughtful elaboration that we are NOT all in the same boat. We are in the same storm, but each in very different boats. Good clear articulation helps a lot. It circles back to the helpfulness of naming a problem that I expressed earlier through verbalization.
Assembly line skills and duties are helpful in producing the same product in mass quantity. This is useful for industrialization but disastrous to apply to human needs, their emotions and relationships. Consider how one size fits all clothing generally turns out. It is usually not very attractive. General clothing sizes offer a better solution. Of course there are limits here too, but when dealing with mass scale worldwide trauma we have got to classify to be able to bring some order and solution.
I am not claiming to have the ultimate solution to the myriad of problems stemming from COVID-19 or any other crisis. But I am advocating that returning to respect and manners would be the best way to find it. In fact, I believe this is the key to healing the division in our land.
What if each of us refrained from jumping to conclusions and judging whether someone’s situation merits listening to? What if we each acknowledged, validated, and took turns listening? Obviously some losses will be greater than others, but each loss counts to the individual it affected. Validate whatever the loss or grief is even if it seems trivial to you. Saying, “I’m sorry you feel that way” is one of the most counterproductive responses. Please never say that. It stabs an emotional knife into the person. Also staying silent hurts too. That communicates indifference. Rather validate and encourage instead. To hear affirmation of one’s pain with an encouraging word can make the burden lighter with a sense of hope. Ask yourself, is my reply going to inspire hope or guilt and despair?
Based on what I learned from a boating accident my daughter and I were involved in each are really going to process the consequences of isolation, social distancing, cancelling of events etc. differently. Click this story for more.
In closing, kindly respect and take turns with self and others regarding the various griefs, losses, hassles, and aggravations that inevitably will surface during this time. And perhaps a good children’s books on manners may help like it did me. Here are a few other favorites by Munro Leaf.
And then of course there is
by Hope Mucklow. #COVID-19 #Recovery #Trauma #Selfhelp