This Uncertainty Won’t Last Forever – In drawings.

When I wrote about Transition, the predictable psycho-emotional response to change, I didn’t expect to see it come alive in so many people.  Although it was only two weeks ago, it seems a lifetime.   Friends and acquaintances are starting to wonder aloud if they will ever feel creative again, or relaxed, or like themselves.  “Are the changes permanent?” they wonder. I want to reach out and reassure them and everyone else that these effects are temporary, no matter how long they last or how scary they feel. I thought the pictures might help make that point.  It’s helping me to make them.

Reading Time: 2 minutes.  Unless you click on the pictures to enlarge them, then maybe 3 minutes.

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A magic 8-ball which pops up an answer to your question when you shake it.

“Situation cloudy, try again later.”

 

ENDING, NEUTRAL ZONE, BEGINNING AGAIN

We keep cycling through the three phases of transition.  After days of feeling pretty well-adjusted, yesterday we learned that California’s Shelter-in Place order has been extended another five weeks. Not only was it kind of a downer, it meant some adjustments had to be made.  Again.

As we walked, my partner Carolyn and I talked about how to safely obtain some of the things we needed to get through those five weeks.  This did not go well. The old, familiar assumptions just aren’t working, which makes it impossible to plan.  That’s when the laughter started to bubble up and I said “I want an actuary – someone who can weigh the probable outcomes of various actions so I can make a decision.  My actuary dot com – why doesn’t that exist?”  Of course this was even funnier, which helped shift the mood.

But it underscores what happens in the Ending phase of the Transition curve:  We want ANSWERS.  We want CERTAINTY.  Accepting that we’ll have to proceed without them is when our denial snaps.  When the situation keeps evolving, sometimes moment to moment, our denial will assert itself and snap again and again.  Living life without certainty becomes a dance of resilience and it can feel like we are dancing on the edge of madness.  What will make a difference?  What won’t?  How will I know?  How can I decide when I don’t know?  Life right now is not just a matter of revising our to do list, it’s a crisis of identity.  without the usual markers, we don’t recognize where, or who, we are.

“Every new adjustment is a crisis in self-esteem.” (Eric Hoffer).

That’s why you feel so crazy.  So beside yourself.  So cranky.  There’s no need to panic about this.  It’s normal and temporary.  Meanwhile, you find yourself in the NEUTRAL ZONE, which feels a bit like this:

Life in the NEUTRAL ZONE.

 

And the NEUTRAL ZONE lasts about this long:

Author Dallas Clayton’s illustration

 

While in the NEUTRAL ZONE, you’ll need a few things to help you through.  Contact with people, humor, routine, exercise, chocolate…

Dark Chocolate, part of my Corona virus pantheon

 

…and someone who knows how to relax:

Ladybug releasing tension

The pause that refreshes.

BEGINNING AGAIN

Eventually, you come out on the other side and the pieces of your stretched-out psyche fall into place again.  Life has meaning and shape and there is a place for you.  You can begin again and you will.  It’s how you’re made.

Thirteen-fold Mandala (13 is the number of Transformation)

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