How to Maintain Healthy Relationships through the Pandemic
The pandemic has impacted our social life, daily routines, vacation time, extra curricular activities, family gatherings, work and maybe most of all… our relationships.
Relationships can be challenging at the best of times and now, with the uncertainties and changes due to the pandemic, there is more stress and strain which triggers emotions – emotions that we are sometimes afraid to share or admit. We are all emotional beings, experiencing a wide range of emotions – yet, it is one of our commonalities that we feel uncomfortable talking about.
During my presentations, regardless of the age of my audience, I ask, ‘why are emotions hard to share?’ The number one answer is ‘fear of judgment’. It can be too easy to meet emotions with judgment and denial which then creates a disconnect in relationships. Our brain will want to know WHY someone is feeling a certain way so that it can judge if the feeling is warranted. What if we could validate an emotion even if we don’t understand where it is coming from?
Think about how you would like someone to approach your emotions.
Here’s a scenario:
A) You share that you are feeling overwhelmed, frustrated and sad. Your partner, colleague, friend or family member says, ‘stop it – you are overreacting.’ Does that reaction tell you that it’s not ok to feel your emotions? Do you feel there is no space to share your true emotions? Do you feel guilt or shame for sharing?
How about this…
B) You share that you are feeling overwhelmed, frustrated and sad. Your partner, colleague, friend or family member says to you ‘It’s ok to feel. There is a lot going on. I have also felt those emotions.’ Now how do you feel? Do you feel seen? Connected? Supported?
We all want to be heard, be seen and be loved – this is universal. One of the best ways to validate and to connect with others (including your children/students) is to support their emotions by remembering that ‘It’s OK to feel and that It’s OK not to feel OK.’ This is what strengthens relationships.