Submitted by Allison Allen
Deep breath, everyone (if nothing else in any of these emails has stuck with you, I hope the suggestions on better breathing have. If not, maybe review?) We are going to get through this day, this week, this season of loss, anger and protest, and this cuss-cussity-cuss pandemic. And it sounds cheesy to say, but we are not going to do it alone; we can only do it together.
We humans are mammals, and more specifically, we are primates, and this means we are very social creatures. We don’t make it on our own, but only after many years of painstaking help from others (anyone raising kids out there??). We do not do well, at all, when left to ourselves, which is one reason why one of the worst punishments in prison is solitary confinement. This is also why so many folks are struggling so much when asked to isolate and maintain so much distance from others. We just aren’t wired that way. We resist separation!
Ultimately there is no replacement for a good dose of face to face connection, but there are lots of other ways we can be “with” others. I have talked in a number of these messages about coping by finding meaning, and here I just want to mention the incredible value of shared meaning. That is the meaning found in communities of folks working together toward shared goals, expressing shared values. Maybe you see where I’m going with this…we are so fortunate, when looking for ways to feel better in the midst of incredibly painful news cycles, to have to look no further than our daily work to remember that good things are being done, by good people, for the good of our community and society. NorthLakes really is the glue helping hold life together for an awful lot of folks, and that matters – big time! So maybe as you read this, look around, find a co-worker, and offer him or her a socially distanced but very sincere air high five, and consider something written by some very wise kid with sidewalk chalk recently: we are “six feet apart and closer than ever.” Stay close, folks, because that’s how we stay strong.
Allison Allen is NorthLakes Chief Behavioral Health Officer