Name it to Tame It
Does the impact of the global pandemic have you feeling like an angry lion? You're not alone.
Two of my favorite thought leaders, Tim Merry and Tuesday Ryan Hart of The Outside, shared in a recent email newsletter,
“Our take? We think it’s too early to make sense of this yet. We’re still in it. This is beyond forecast and understanding. We just have to be in it as well as we can be.”
I agree. So no hot take from me here.
In my tiptoeing into trying to make some sense for myself of the global pandemic we are all experiencing, I believe that we are experiencing a collective trauma. In my trainings on trauma, I use this definition: “Trauma is an overwhelming or scary life event that exceeds coping resources.” Individually, in our neighborhoods, in our hospitals, in our nation, we are overwhelmed and scared – about our health and the health of our loved ones near and far, about our own economic security and the future of work for ourselves and our neighbors, our children’s education, and more.
Chronic stress can make us more prone to an amygdala hijack, otherwise known as “losing it.” So what helps? I’ve been revisiting some of my trainings on trauma for tips to use for myself, my coaching clients, and my friends and family and wanted to share a few here.
Today: Name it to tame it.
How are you feeling? Name your feelings and responses and write them down and/or tell someone. Just the act of naming your feelings helps to calm the fight or flight response/amygdala hijack. This is an idea that Dr. Dan Siegel coined as: “Name it to tame it.” An important caveat here is if you are helping your child, partner, student, client or co-worker do this – it’s essential to first make a warm connection. Once you’ve shown that you care, you may want to say, “It sounds like you’re feeling … (name the emotion).” Sometimes when we are experiencing an amygdala hijack it’s tricky to figure out exactly how we’re feeling, so having someone else name the emotion can help.
As author and activist Glennon Doyle reminds us, “We can do hard things.” The “we” is essential; be kind to yourself during this time and ask for help when you need it.
Stay home and stay safe, everyone.