Uncertainty in Uncertain TimesBy Nannette S. Funderburk, PhD, LPCS / July 3, 2020
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We are facing “uncertainty in uncertain times.” The wise person who said this phrase may not have known how accurate these words are for so many people. It can sound odd until broken into its parts. Let’s begin with the uncertain times. There is COVID-19, closed schools, closed businesses, masks, protests, police actions garnering national attention, and so much more. These are the uncertain times that at the new year, just five short months ago, would have sounded like a movie plot. Instead these are the times in which our world and immediate community are living.
Conversely, the uncertainty is more personal. Statements and questions begin to arise like, “What will happen with my job?” “What if my family gets sick?” “I’m suddenly a fifth-grade math teacher” or “I still need to get mom to the doctor’s appointment and telehealth won’t work for this, how is this going to work out?” These are real, everyday problems.
When hardships come our direction, much of the time, we handle it – period. This is different and yet we are attempting to handle current personal stress in the same manner we have handled everything else. That is, we acknowledge the presence of racism, life stress, and other -isms, while simultaneously trying to be great at our daily lives. In addition, we are attempting to press forward, still, without addressing the secrets; the family and personal secrets that are a part of the foundation for too many of our families.
The secrets such as the person who uncomfortably made visits to your room at night, the drinking problem that your parent had but no one talked about because “what goes on in this house stays in this house.” We could not talk about it outside the house, and no one talked about it inside the house. It was silently suppressed and we lived with the anxiety, anger and hurt. This is the foundation for some of us and the historical trauma that’s been passed down for generations.
The secrets, coupled with the current day stress, are a part of the reason why African Americans are more likely to have feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and worthlessness as compared to Whites (National Mental Health Association). These feelings can be symptoms for depression. In addition, the disparities associated with Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) are seen at a higher rate in African Americans. It’s uncertainty in uncertain times.
What can we do? Do not forget that we are resilient, resourceful people. There is much that we can do. First, the don’ts.
Do not actively ruminate on the thoughts and events. When we regularly rehearse, over and over, the negative events our minds get stuck in them as though the past is literally present. This can be come toxic.
Do not respond in a like for like manner on social media or in conversation with someone who disagrees with your stance. You are expecting the other person to change their mind and vice versa.
This is futile.
Again, what do you do?
Acknowledge your struggle. If we pretend nothing is there, it only grows.
Express your feelings. Anything we take in (food, drink, emotions) must come out of us or we get sick.
Look for the helpers. Actively look for and focus on those who are helping in big or small ways. That helps to restore our hope in humanity.
The S.E.L. Group, The Social and Emotional Learning Group, is located at 3300 Battleground Ave. Suite 202, Greensboro. Phone 336-285-7173. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org and visit: www.theselgroup.com.