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Some Pandemic Ponderings

written by Bob Denison, LCSW-C

I have been wondering over the last several weeks about crisis theory and the Japanese/Chinese symbol that represents chaos above and opportunity below. It would look some thing like this:



I think that it has been proven true, that in times of crisis, obviously chaos exists and yet the theory points to an unusual openness to internal and external opportunities for assistance of some kind or another. In wartime, in that period of profound uncertainty, there was the saying, “there are no atheists in the foxholes”.

In other times, where we designate a person as a hero or heroine, it is often noticed that their extraordinary responses are inexpiable, that the individual has no clue or sense as to how they accomplished such a feat of strength or bravery.

Recognition of the opportunity, underlying the chaos in a crisis, often requires a new way of seeing and a slowing down of our usual and high-speed thinking. Another theory is important here.

A = Something happens.

B = Our Self Talk.

C = Our Behavior, Feeling & Actions

So, basically our Self Talk, programmed over our lifetimes and thought by neuroscience to be faster than one can snap their fingers, is the driver of our behaviors, feelings and actions. Unless we can recognize what messages are constantly being sent, the ones we give our attention to, often in times of crisis, we will respond in ways we have always responded. What is the definition of insanity? “Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”.

So, let’s look at one more theory, actually a practice, that will help slow down the high speed thinking, the same thing over and over again, and assist us to seize on the opportunity to develop new behaviors, feelings and actions. It is referred to as: STOP

S= Stop (think of pausing)

T = Take a breath (actually several deep breaths will be more beneficial)

O = Open and Observe (the root word for anxiety comes from the word narrowness) (look around, step outside, notice the spaciousness) (ask yourself, what was I just saying to myself?) (listen)

P = Proceed (thank yourself for the opportunity to practice) (pray if you are so inclined)

This practice is meant to be something you might do several times a day so that you will be equipped, inoculated in a sense, and have a fresh opportunity against the powerful and often toxic self-talk, that surfaces in crisis, and inadvertently, intensifies the chaos.

So, in this unprecedented time, I will continue to practice what I preach and hold all of you in the Light with Love, Bob


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