Psychological flexibility means “contacting the present moment fully as a conscious human being, and based on what the situation affords, changing or persisting in behavior in the service of chosen values.” In short this is what all parents and children have been doing to survive COVID, changing behaviors in keeping with their values. Everyone’s been taking committed actions such as switching to remote learning, purchasing or making masks, and working from our homes if possible (even if it is from the closet or garages) to protect ourselves and our families. All the while trying to make our kids' childhoods happy, safe and consistent in an inconsistent world. Our community time and again has proven its ability to be psychologically flexible.
But I want to go further, I’ve witnessed those around me pushing past mere flexibility but actually shape shifting and becoming what one of my clients so creatively termed “Psychological Contortionists.” Being able to move, bend and twist their way of being, acting and thriving despite it all. Notwithstanding political strife, racial injustices, economic disparities AND trying to survive a pandemic ...you carry on.
It’s this resilience, mental strength and malleability that has been awe inspiring. But with that comes a cost. The toll is exhaustion, pain and insufferable grief. Just as if you work your muscles to their limits, our mental and emotional health has taken a hit. Humanity is grieving. Maybe you are actually grieving a loss of life of loved ones due to COVID, or loss of employment, lost hope, routine and the comfort of your own certainty. We are social beings, who thrive on connection. In person, touching, smiling and shared laughter. COVID has redefined our social constructs.
So to all you grieving psychological contortionists, acknowledge this is as hard as your mind, body and emotions are telling you it is. My hope is that although we may all be six feet apart and hidden under our quirky masks, we know one another are grieving. By naming it and acknowledging it, we can collectively heal and recover to face another day.