April 2020: How would you describe your life right now?

Over the past few years, starting with this article, I’ve written a few on using language to our benefit, trying to help us all remember that we hold many of the keys to our own mental and emotional health in terms of how we think, how we see, and how we talk about things.

On a Zoom call this morning with my friend, the LinkedIn Guru Jeff Young, I was reminded of this topic toward the end of our fun-filled talk, when he said something about being stuck in the house more than he wanted to be.

Now, the world is going through a terrible time, and you don’t have to read this to know it. Everyone has been impacted; there’s no escape from some effects on each of us, even if of varying degrees. Our world has been turned upside down in many respects. Families have lost loved ones. Friends, too. Colleagues. And it’s not ending quickly enough for anyone.

While we’re in the middle of it all, though, it’s possible to make ourselves more miserable than we need to be, merely by how we frame the situation.

Jeff’s an extrovert, so for him, this “stay in place” stuff is tougher than it is for me, as I’m much more of an introvert.

But as I listened to him, I heard him say something close to “I’m stuck at home more than I want to be. It’s really hard for me.”

His face reflected those words; it looked sad for a couple of seconds. And this from a man who is the epitome of kindness, caring, giving!

We talked about it for a bit, and we realized that how we frame our lives right now can help or hurt; it’s one of the things we actually have some control over. To use a negative word like “stuck” doesn’t help. It’s limiting and can make us feel even more like a victim than we need to be.

We decided that if we were to reframe that vision and use different words, it might help.

How about “I’m so glad I’m able to be at home!”

“I’m glad I can work from home.”

“I’m grateful I still have a job, and …”

“Thank goodness my kids are able to keep learning remotely.”

It’s the focus that can help us see rays of light in what truly is a dark time. It can help us all feel less invaded, less out of control. It can help keep us on a more even keel.

The best analogy of all this is what flight attendants are taught to NEVER say when a plane hits turbulence or there’s a sudden noise or something …

Don’t panic!

Right. Our brain hears “panic” and does exactly that. The word plays to our greatest fears, all while we’re trying desperately to pretend everything’s fine. It shuts our rational mind down. We go into survival mode, the fight-or-flight one. It ain’t pretty, folks!

Of course, the flight attendants always focus on what we can do – put on our seat belt, stay in our seat, remain calm. It’s a deliberate shift to help us do our best in what may be a tough situation.

So, while we can’t control much that’s happening in the wider world, we can control some of what is happening in our own small space.

How will you / do you frame your current situation? How can you help yourself and others do a little better job managing this life we’re all living right now? Please share your thoughts here.

Susan Rooks
Susan Rookshttps://grammargoddess.com/
With 25 years’ experience as an international speaker and workshop leader, Susan Rooks is uniquely positioned to help people master the communication skills they need to succeed. In 1995, Susan formed Grammar Goddess Communication to help business professionals enhance their communication skills. She creates and leads three-hour “Brush Up on Your Skills” workshops in three main areas: American grammar, business writing, and interpersonal skills. And recently she created and began leading introductory workshops to help business pros maximize their LinkedIn experience, offering it to Chambers of Commerce free of charge. As a copyeditor (and editor of nonfiction only), Susan has worked on projects ranging from blogs to award-winning children’s books to best-selling business books to corporate annual reports (with clients from half a dozen countries), ensuring that all material is professionally presented and free from grammatical errors. From the beginning, Susan’s only goal was to help everyone look and sound as smart as they are.

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  1. Thank you for this wonderful article Susan. I think I just may be an “ambivert” too. For the most part, I am so very grateful that this time has literally burst into a huge space of creativity. I am so grateful to have the space where I am having this constant flow of fun ideas, stories to write and collages to create! I’ve also been doing some complimentary mindfulness webinars. I have my moments where I feel super overstimulated by social media and all the zoom invitations, tags etc… I am noticing them and navigating how best to take care of myself. Also, holding a space of compassion for the suffering of others and our world. Grateful to be healthy and to have the opportunity to spend one on one time getting to know people like you!

  2. Well said, dear friend. I’m like you: mostly introverted; pretty comfortable with being in doors. But I can only imagine how I would feel if I were suddenly thrust outside! Probably like Jeff Young being kept inside.

    I think this is a time to be creative with what we have. I am struck by the number of institutions that are keeping themselves open virtually, running past programs, offering new programs on line etc. There’s no dearth of things to watch or to join. Read a book! Write a book!

    It’s a time to channel our inner Jonathan Winters, that brilliant comedian who would pick up any object and ask “Hmmm, what can I do with this?”

    • And yes, Jeff, you and I are very similar in those ways. It’s easier for some of us; we’re not facing true deprivation of food or lodging or other vital things. But we still can make our own situation better or worse depending on how we choose to see it and describe it. Stay safe, my friend!

  3. There is a whole gamut of emotions many of us are feeling right now. One of the emotions I am feeling now is anger. I am angry that the press is sensationalizing the virus in such a manner that it is adding to the fears and anxieties that are already overflowing to the extent that they are so their readership goes up as do their profits. I am angry and outraged by the cover-up perpetuated by the Chinese government and The World Health Organization. There is the anger I feel at the lack of true compassion on the part of all branches of our government which includes both major political parties. Every day I feel and express gratitude to G-d just for giving me life. My dearest friends along with those that have children are well which makes me happy. My sister, her husband, and her children are all well which is yet another thing I am grateful for. As things stand now my friend will be able to get married for the first time at the age of 70 and will no longer be living life alone which is an indescribable feeling. Let us all G-d willing stay safe and well. Thank you, Susan, for sharing your article.

  4. Thank you for your wisdom, Susan! As someone who looks at the positive, you speak my language. I appreciate this. As someone who is sixty percent extrovert and forty percent introvert, this has been fine for me mainly because I am healthy and also able to make a living.💖

    • And I saw the term “ambivert” years ago, Darlene, and I think that describes me. About 35% extrovert, 65% introvert. Able to be seen as either type depending on the situation, although I don’t usually stay long at parties; the noise and all wear me down faster than others.

      And while I obviously see the negatives right now or at most times, I realize that my self-talk can make things a little better or worse, so I’m on the alert for my own words. Thanks for always taking the time to read and comment; I really appreciate it and you!

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