Thirteen weeks into our COVID-19 quarantine restrictions are starting to lift, but life does not feel less stressful. The past week has raised painful issues our country needs to deal with regarding racism and violence against Black Americans. At moments I feel overwhelmed with sadness, especially when my 18- and 20-year-olds ask me, “What’s wrong with our country?” I feel so badly that they are coming of age against a backdrop of both social injustice and a global pandemic, but I am also grateful that my children are healthy and safe. I have lived in this country for more than 50 years and have always been proud to call it my home. Living here has given me access to countless opportunities that I never would have had if my family had stayed in Poland, but recent events have made me aware that this has not been the case for far too many people who live here. We are all human and want our children to be safe and have opportunities to live good lives. I truly hope we will reach a day when this is possible for everyone in this country and I promise to do my part to bring about that day as soon as possible. Wisnik Career Enterprises has always strived to support diversity, inclusion and equality, but we also know there is always more work to be done and always more to learn.
I know it can be difficult to manage your state during times like this of national sadness on multiple fronts, whether you are affected more by the news of the pandemic, the violence, or both. Although I am glad I have well-being tools to help me, walking in nature and meditating aren’t enough these days for me to stay grounded and positive. When I feel the biggest waves of fear and sadness wash over me I now say, “It’s ok not to be ok.” Instead of trying to squash those uncomfortable feelings, which I know will just come back when I least expect them and cause me to blow up over something relatively insignificant, I now allow myself to feel the grief, loss and sadness I am experiencing. It’s ok not to be ok.
Most of us who have chosen to work in the legal industry excel at problem-solving and have a high need for control. What can we do when we feel overwhelmed with uncertainty and injustice? I highly recommend practicing compassion both towards others and towards yourself. What does this look like? For me, compassion is about being fully present without feeling like you have to have the answers. It may even require you to feel vulnerable. Yes, this is hard! Start by practicing self-compassion. When we let our feelings to surface and allow ourselves to fully experience them, we become more connected to our humanity. Creating space inside yourself by experiencing your uncomfortable emotions will make you better able to support others and take courageous action.
I find journaling and even writing this blog help me better understand what I am experiencing and that clarity gives rise to more inner peace. How are you allowing yourself to feel what you feel? The first step may be to give yourself permission to be ok with not feeling ok.
What about other people – how can we show more compassion during these difficult times? If you don’t know what to say to someone who is having a hard time with all that is happening right now and want to show compassion, then just listen. You don’t need to solve the problem, just show them your humanity. Try some of these empathetic comments:
- I can imagine how you might be feeling…
- Did I get that right?
- Tell me more…
I use the image below in our Well-Being workshops and find it to be a great illustration of how we need to move from fear to growth during these turbulent times. I truly believe compassion for ourselves and for others is imperative today, both for addressing issues of racism in our country and for weathering the global pandemic. Wisnik Career Enterprises is always here to listen to, learn from, and support our clients and candidates however we can in these trying times.