Over the past few weeks, I, like so many others, have felt such overwhelming emotion that it has been crippling at times. As someone who works in the inclusion space, I am using this month’s newsletter to share some of the coping strategies I have used (with myself and my clients) to navigate this difficult time.
The 4 C’s for Coping in Crisis:
1) Compassion: The division I’ve witnessed working in this space over the last few weeks has brought me to my knees. My hope lies in the power of compassion. The catalyst for compassion is this simple truth: Comprehension is not a prerequisite for compassion. We can hold space for people’s grief, suffering, and pain, without an understanding of their lived experiences, view points, or choices. Compassion (even in the absence of comprehension) enables us to refocus and recenter on our shared humanity. Read ‘One Tool, Technique or Tactic To Try’ for more.
2) Connectivity: Lack of connectivity is correlated with poor health outcomes and shorter life expectancies (even in the best of times). In the darkest of times, our communities and connections are even more important. Explore ‘One Update’ and ‘One Share’ for more tips on staying connected.
3) Curiosity: Begin Boldly talks about the power of a Curious Mindset but, thinking critically in times of crisis is hard to do. Here are some questions to help us all harness curiosity in the face of crisis: Am I challenging my fixed beliefs and assumptions? What else might be true here? What other perspectives have I not explored? What other sources of information may help me counteract my own ‘confirmation bias’? How can I proactively seek out information that will help me broaden my perspectives?
4) Contribution: In times of crisis, one of the most difficult feelings to grapple with is helplessness. Seeing suffering, while feeling unable to help, can lead to overwhelm and empathetic distress. However, we are all capable of making meaningful contributions in our own areas of influence and impact. Read ‘One Question’ to reflect on where you may be best able to translate your compassion into meaningful action. Remember: Action and activism can take many different shapes and forms. They are not limited to the online world alone.
During this heartbreaking time, I am wishing you Compassion, Connectivity, Curiosity, and Contribution.
Connectivity is critical in good times and bad. In the darkest of times, connectivity is even more critical to one’s health.
Did you know that not feeling connected to others has actually been associated with a greater risk of cardiovascular disease, dementia, stroke, depression, anxiety, and premature death?
This month I was invited as a guest to WUSA9’s morning show – ‘Great Day Washington’ – and Fox5’s – ‘LION (Like It Or Not) Lunch Hour’ – to talk about the power of connectivity. Watch a snippet on my Instagram to hear some tactical tips on how to cultivate connectivity.
Check it out here:
One Tool, Technique or Tactic To Try
As an inclusion professional, I’ve seen firsthand that compassion does not need to be contingent upon comprehension. When empathy and understanding feel impossible, start with compassion instead.
Earlier this year, a diversity specialist shared that many people get stuck on “I have to understand you in order to have empathy for you.” Instead, they invited everyone to lead with “I will never entirely understand the experience of another, nor will I understand their choices… I can, however, choose to be compassionate towards them, even when I do not comprehend.”
In today’s context, compassion in times of crisis allows us to hold space for human grief, trauma, loss, and fear without full comprehension.
If we want to make our communities – and thereby, our world – radically better, we need to prioritize compassion (even in the most painful and divisive of times) because it is compassion that underpins psychological safety and our core and shared humanity.
Ask yourself: Where can I make the most meaningful contribution during this crisis?
Think about something (that is within your sphere of influence and impact) that you could do to help people who are suffering. This could include sharing compassion, facilitating dialogues, making monetary contributions and donating to aid, hosting a vigil, raising awareness, making art, bringing people together, and more. Don’t underestimate the impact of individual contributions (no matter how seemingly small).
Let’s go live boldly!