Dr. Natalie Gelman is an Alameda-based therapist. Submit questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or through her website, www.drnataliegelman.com.
The past couple of years have been a challenge emotionally and practically. Our whole lifestyle changed. We were threatened by a disease, businesses were forced to close, children were educated virtually, and many people began to work from home. There was Ukraine, Roe vs. Wade, Black Lives Matter, shootings at schools and other facilities. We have inflation, recession, high gas prices, and a lack of baby formula. Businesses opened, children returned to school, and some people returned to work for part of the week. We were short of workers in the restaurant business and the airline business. Depressions, anxiety, and suicide increased.
Have I included you in the above concerns?
The challenge is how to move forward optimistically.
History shows that we do tend to go in circles. Issues surface and then they change. We continue to move from the left to the right and back again. The economy goes up and down. Sometimes the issues surface over again, forward and backward.
We have learned that we are survivors. Those who are reading this article and been through all that was cited in the first paragraph, and we are still here. You are choosing to read about optimism…invited to do so by the title of the article. And so, wanting to explore and move forward. Self-reflection has increased. We are always going through a process, and often, particularly during stressful times, we take a moment to think about ourselves, our options, our feelings, our thoughts. Many have told me they have begun to meditate a bit, to gain control over the uncomfortable feelings and thoughts. Meditation is a valuable tool to have.
With limited access to the world and activities, many have formed stronger connections to family and friends. We do need people in our lives, and so there was a tendency to reach out to those we trusted the most to keep themselves safe and healthy. And many reached out to friends and family who were not local, but they increased phone contacts.
Our homes are cleaner and more organized. We have discarded unnecessary items. We have developed lists of what we would like to be different when we are able to afford it or when it is available. We have learned that we want to remain healthy and will wear masks even when not required to. We have decided how much we will immerse ourselves in what is happening in the world, using self-judgement to decide whether to watch the news or involve ourselves in conversation. We have learned we are able to make sacrifices to survive financial stress. Our priorities have changed a bit.
Know you continue to move forward. Think about how you have handled this time. Learn about a strength you have that you may have overlooked. And know what is happening in the world will continue to go back and forth. Choose optimism.