by Cyndi Benner, MA, LPC Trauma therapist at Inspire
It seems I get a daily email from a gym or yoga studio offering virtual classes. Somewhere in the email is a sentence geared towards motivating me not to “fall off the wagon” while I’m stuck at home, sheltering in place. And I hear it in my clients “I should use this time to lose the 10 pounds I’ve been wanting to lose.” Or if it’s not about fitness, it’s about reading, or learning a language, or learning to play an instrument. It’s true, we do have some extra time on our hands right now. But I ask, “is now the time to be productive?”
Western society, and Americans in particular are very driven towards accomplishment and productivity. How often have you heard the response “I’m doing good, just busy”? Or how often have you responded that way? In fact, we applaud people who can get a lot done, especially when they do it well. We even use busyness as an acceptable way to stay away from our own thoughts and emotions. The whole world is literally coming to a complete halt, and we are finding new, “virtual” ways to be productive.
Even the most cool headed person is experiencing some fear right now. We are living with a significant amount of uncertainty. We are feeling fear about our health and the health of our loved ones. We are feeling fear about the economy and our job security. So is now the time to add guilt to that fear? “Here I am at home with all that time on my hands and all I want to do is sleep. Or I still haven’t lost those 10 pounds, in fact I’ve gained a few.”
When I reflect on the years that my children were young, I remember the nights that I would hear their little feet patter into my room. “Mommy, I had a nightmare!” And I would promptly respond “Oh sweetheart, now that you’re up you might as well organize your room.” (What?). Never!
I would say “Oh sweetheart, hop in my bed and let’s cuddle a little”. When my children were feeling afraid they needed comfort not a to-do list. So maybe this is a time that we need a great big hug. Comfort. If learning to play a new instrument or getting more proficient at the one you play feels comforting then go for it. But if it feels more like a “should” than a hug, put it to the side and revisit it another time. Maybe the big lesson in all of this is not how to make staying at home look more productive, maybe the big lesson is how to settle, soothe and slow down enough to get in touch with ourselves.
There is an African folklore about a Western explorer that hired African porters to help him make his way through the jungle and carry his necessities. After several difficult days of traveling he woke on the third morning to get a head start on the day of traveling. However, his porters refused to move. He pleaded with them but nothing he said convinced them to move. They said to him they could not move, they were waiting for their souls to catch up to their bodies.
In all the busyness and productivity of your life, have you left your soul behind? Perhaps this is a collective opportunity for all of us to get back in touch with our true self, our soul.
C.S. Lewis says “You are not a body. You have a body, you are a soul.” What does your soul need right now?
Cyndi is “trauma certified” by the Illinois Coalition Against Sexual Assault (ICASA). She brings clinical experience from the Zacharias Sexual Abuse Center. Cyndi holds a gentle and safe space to heal from traumatic experiences, troublesome childhoods, anxiety or panic. She loves to empower women to find their voice.
She helps women, moms, young adults dealing with trauma, anxiety, panic, women’s issues, parenting, health concerns, and faith. She’s currently offering telemental health services and has openings for a few new clients.
To inquire about scheduling with Cydni, call (847) 919-9096 ext 1 or firstname.lastname@example.org