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  • Writer's pictureKimberly M. Ewing, Ph.D.

Challenging My Stories

I love what I do, and I love coming to my office and connecting with you all. I really resist losing that for even a short time. I've been telling myself the stories to protect against change. Many of you have been examining your stories, so I thought I'd share mine and how challenging them led to the decision to shift to remote/video chat sessions during COVID-19.

I've been saying “I am not in a risk category, I am practicing social distancing (I have stayed clear of places with lots of people, The Rotunda has emptied out so I seldom are near anyone, even cross the street on my walks if I am passing someone...), and I am washing hands, surfaces, using wipes, hand sanitizer, etc., so all is well”.

Also, while many practitioners use video chat comfortably and frequently, I have opted to use it only when there is no other viable option. Last week when I went into the office each day, I began adjusting to the different flow of my day—mostly a mix of in person, video chat, with a few phone sessions. By my last day in the office on Thursday, I was telling myself the story that “this is just fine and I’m managing all of it quite well!”.

Then I was home Friday all day attending a webcast professional development seminar. It was an entire day of intent listening and learning with few breaks. But by the end of that day, I noticed I felt a deeper sense of calm and peace than I’d been feeling for awhile. Hm... My precious stories started forming cracks.

During my intentional news restrictions, I ran across stories referencing acts of generosity and kindness towards medical, caretaker, janitorial, sanitation, public safety, and grocery store workers who are diligently meeting our constant needs, putting themselves at risk to do so. They are among those who can’t work from home. And, there are people in my family network that work in these fields. I cannot practice social distancing from them all. This felt like an important nudge for me to pay attention to.

More cracks in my stories. Despite my belief that we are all connected, I was only looking at my individual self and what I was doing or not doing. None of my nearby family have health risks from the virus. But I wasn’t considering this other degree of risk shouldered by these family members. To do all I can to safeguard us all, I would have to practice more distancing.

I do need to operate differently if I’m going to incorporate good care on all levels during this time. I’m learning how as I go. But I have to interrupt my stories, recognize the needs I’m trying to protect, and accept the change that will come in ways I can’t predict.

I invite you to ask yourselves, "How might this pandemic be bringing me a hidden opportunity for personal growth and change, rather than just a threat to all I know and rely upon?"

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