Dealing with Adversity in 2020: Relationship Implications
Dealing with the adversities that have come up during the pandemic, has taken up a lot of our resources, both internal and external.
We are dealing with so much work related stress – employment, unemployment, mortgage payments, furlough and a lot more. There’s the general uncertainty around what the future holds and something that we haven’t been speaking about enough – the lack of things to look forward to and the inability and blocks around creating alternatives for those that fit within the “new normal”.
These are parts of the adverse circumstances we are experiencing in 2020, some of these came directly from COVID19 and some were amplified by it after already accumulating for a while.
There has been a lack of focus and conversation around how all of these adverse circumstances impact personal relationships. “Sticking together” has been the tagline, however not enough attention has been paid to how difficult it can be to stay in relation with another person when navigating so much adversity.
So where does this come from? Our resilience-stress response to the world is based on our operating systems or let’s call them - our energy batteries. These get replenished and depleted through everything we do. To keep it simple adverse experiences deplete the battery and restful and joyous experiences tend to replenish it.
And what does it have to do with our personal relationships? The more our energy batteries are depleted the harder it is to maintain social contact, and although social contact can both replenish and deplete the batteries, when one is already low, dealing with communication and navigating intimacy can prove difficult and further depleting.
Without going into stats, there have been a lot of marriages, romantic partnerships and other close relationships that have ended during the lockdown or as a result of it.
So what can we do about it? When we are experiencing this much stress and fear the last thing we want is to hold it in awareness when we are with our close people, right?
Well, not quite, although it can feel counterintuitive, the acknowledgement of all of this extra stress each of us is carrying around explicitly and specifically in our close relationships can create more empathy for each other. And through that empathy the replenishing side of social contact can be boosted and brought forward. And instead of giving stress the upper hand in our personal relationships, we disarm it and fuel the resilience.
It isn’t easy to start applying this in our daily interactions with loved ones, however like with any change, it starts with becoming aware of it and building onto that awareness by acknowledging it and taking small corrective actions.