Lock-down can be tough, and lock-down can be an opportunity

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How are you doing in these unusual times? My dreams have been particularly vivid since lock-down started: old memories finding their way to the surface and inviting attention and letting go. With less face-to-face contact the ups and downs of my moods has been easier to notice. Some days I’m relaxed, and some days my temper is shorter than usual.

Most people I speak to have noticed a background anxiety running through their days: thoughts about getting social distancing right; worrying about themselves or family members; worrying about health and worrying about finances.

If you’re locked-down with another person existing tensions can become more obvious as there’s less of the old life to give you a break from each other.

All of these difficulties can also be opportunities. Everything that disturbs us is also a signpost to deeper work.

If you notice an argument brewing, if you’re slowly becoming aware of defending a point of view unusually strongly, or taking a stand over some minor thing, then here is something to pay attention to.

In the moment of heat, there is an opportunity to notice the energy that’s arising — the particular mix of thoughts, feelings and impulses to act —and to invite some separation between you and that energy.

“Hey there reactive energy, I see you, I don’t know why you’re here right now, but I trust you think you have a good reason. Maybe you can take a step back and experiment with letting me handle this conversation without you.”

Some feelings are easier to work with in this way than others. Some will seem happy to trust you, and some will retain their strong grip. Whatever happens, this kind of noticing — paying attention without judgement, and inviting space —is good for the whole system.

If we make a note of these moments, we can also take them as the starting points for deeper work.

Why would you want to do deeper work when life is already more complicated than usual? Because working with a therapist to follow the trail these moments offer, and offering healing and letting go where it’s appropriate, you’re much less likely to get triggered in the same way in the present day again.

This has a benefit not just in lockdown, where conditions are more difficult, but the whole of the rest of your life. My experience is that each time we do this kind of work, we become generally steadier and more able to relax than before.

I know that I have my own ‘ought’s and ‘should’s that would take an invitation like this and create another burden out of it. At the beginning of our lock-down I remember seeing tweets about Shakespeare writing King Lear whilst in quarantine and how that felt like a pressure for me to do more.

So please take this as the gentle invitation that it is, rather than something extra to accomplish, and drop me a line if you are interested in a therapy session.

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