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We have experienced two long years with 2020 and 2021. I remember when 2020 started. I thought the biggest part of my year was turning 40, having no idea I would experience events that would forever change our lives. Between the racial injustice, civil unrest, and the election, things were very dysregulated. Oh yea, there was also that COVID-19 thing. During the year, and following into 2021, there was something that seemed very unsettling: a loss of control.
One of my main areas in counseling is anxiety. I tell my clients that a loss of control almost always leads to an increase in anxiety. We see this when we are driving, and we get anxious about the cars around us. Or, when our boss gives us an assignment we did not anticipate, and we must adjust our schedule. Maybe, we experience a raise in anxiety when there is a global pandemic, and we lose control over many aspects of our day-to-day life.
So, what happens when we lose control? Often, we fight like crazy to regain it. Maybe we become overly aggressive in driving. Maybe we take pride in adjusting our schedule and problem-solving. Maybe we have tried to live like nothing has happened during COVID times. No matter what our coping strategies are, when we feel that loss of control, we may experience anxiety, insecurity, anger, and disruptions to our healthy functioning.
So, as we go through 2022, I’ll focus on ways we can reclaim some aspects of our lives as we live in a continuing and post COVID-19 disrupted world. I know some of us went back to business as normal as soon as we could. I know some of us are still sheltering in place as much as possible, avoiding restaurants, and social distancing. I know some of us are somewhere in-between those. So, let’s talk about something we can control to start the year off with.
You have three things you can control: what you think, say, and do. Maybe during COVID, our thoughts have bordered on the catastrophic (every thing will be terrible forever). It is helpful to reframe those thoughts into how things can be different, and what joy can I have. While I missed going to my office during 2020, I think about all the extra time I had with my kids. When I am frustrated with what things I am unable to do (I miss sitting in Starbucks), I can control enjoying my coffee outside. When I wanted to shout at people for having different opinions of me during elections, pandemics, and racial injustice, I focused my effort to control how I spoke to people so that I would not regret my words.
Even if COVID were to disappear from the world and never return, things will never be fully like they were. So, if we want to reclaim control, let us not focus on what we’ve lost, but on what we can think, say, and do. As we do that, it allows for a peace and hope of reclaiming other things. I look forward to enjoying a journey of reclaiming with you in 2022!