Maria Popova's newsletter (recently renamed ‘The Marginalian') brings to my iPad every week the most exquisite writing in easily digestible morsels. This quote by Joan Didion in a recent newsletter made me hesitate:
“I think we are well advised to keep on nodding terms with the people we used to be, whether we find them attractive company or not. Otherwise they turn up unannounced and surprise us….”
These words make a connection to the inner transitionary shifts I have noticed in my way of being as we travelled through the various stages of the pandemic. Sometimes the changes were decisive and dramatic requiring an immediate response, as in the need to rapidly up-skill in online facilitation; while others have been more meanderingly deceptive. Others still have been joyful and enriching.
The most dramatic changes have been in my working life pointing me to broaden the reach of my work through online connecting and by following new paths. However, the quote gives voice to questions that have been hovering uncomfortably under the surface. How do I reconcile who I was with who I am becoming in the shifting sands of this pandemic-altered world? How do I keep the baby and only throw away the bath water?
I don’t have a neatly packaged answer but I’m embracing the questions. My work as a systemic coach, facilitator and trainer and more recently with organisational trauma, reminds me that the past is always present. If we are unable to process the emotions stemming from difficult events at the time, they tend to become triggered during subsequent periods of upheaval and stress. As the Joan Didion quote goes on, our former selves:
“….come hammering on the mind’s door at 4 a.m. of a bad night and demand to know who deserted them, who betrayed them, who is going to make amends”.
Perhaps it’s a natural unease in the face of extraordinary change and transition but I doubt if I am alone in wanting to keep peace with my soul. My ‘go to’ remedies are journaling, Focusing which enables me to release any uncomfortable emotions I’m carrying from a situation, and through regular 1-1 and group supervision. These give me the time and space to integrate the learning and respectfully let go of what no longer serves me in this changing world.
What are you noticing about how you are responding to these ever-changing circumstances? What enables you to hold on to the best that is you and let go of the rest?
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