Easing the Negative Cycle in the Time of Pandemic

In the book Love in the Time of Cholera, Gabriel Garcia Marquez shows us how relational difficulty arises from family expectations, finances, classism, and pandemic.sometimes in intense, raw ways, but also even when the worst happens, love can be rekindled and repaired whereit has existed. In our current time of Coronavirus Pandemic, we are facing uncertainty, isolation and often fear that impacts us as individuals and seeps into our relational interactions. Given the added stress of pandemic, it is easy, even normal to become overwhelmed and close our hearts in self-protection. Compassion researcher Kristen Neff reminds us that our weakest links, our insecurities surface under stress. As we feel our insecurities, they transform into self-protection, we get snappy and short, we lash out verbally, or we silently shutdown emotionally. All of these symptoms can impede the closeness in our relationships. We are not bad, if we protest or withdraw, we are human. We may feel powerless in the face of inadequacy, but as teacher and author, Tara Brach points outour fears are real, but not true” we always have the power to connect even if we connect to our own caring self, God, Buddha, our Dog or someone who we admire. Imagine this person or being telling you that you have power and you matter. Imagine them saying - It is time to talk about your insecurities and practice self-compassion. Imagine them saying It’s always a good idea to be aware of your feelings, allow and feel your emotions and speak to yourself with loving kindness the same way you speak to a friend. You might say, “self, this is really difficult, it’s truly okay to feel anxious”. The next step is to share your fear with a partner or trusted person “I” statements that include your feelings and needs, without blame. Before you share, take deep breaths and notice the feelings and sensations inside your body. You might say something like, “I’m feeling anxious, and I need reassurance that you love me.” Also, keep in mind there are no perfect families or relationships, but learning to have self-compassion can help you hold compassion for others. 

Researcher and author Kristin Neff, tells us that self-critics “tend not to trust others and assume that those they care about will eventually try to hurt them. This creates a steady state of fear that causes problems in interpersonal interactions. For instance, research shows that highly self-critical people tend to be dissatisfied in their romantic relationships because they assume their partners are judging them as harshly as they judge themselves. The misperception of even fairly neutral statements as disparaging often leads to oversensitive reactions and unnecessary conflicts. This means that self-critics often undermine the closeness and supportiveness in relationships that they so desperately seek.”

This fearful inadequacy causes mis-attunement and emotional rupture. It skews our perception, we still love and are loved, but we may feel frozen or lost when we enter the state of survival mode. To thaw, listen and respond to your partner’s needs, reflect and be compassionate to aid your accountability for your actions and apologize for missteps to repair the rupture. And, if needed contact your therapist, not only do they know how to help you, they are human and work through their own insecurities, we are all on this journey together as lovely human beings. This too shall pass! 


In Relationship,

Cynthia Rebholz

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