by Edie Weinstein
World events are unfolding at a breakneck pace, rendering even the most psychologically stable people on the verge of emotional dysfunction. Each day upon awakening, the news feed is filled with stories of death and destruction. While it’s true that this is nothing new, since violence has been a consistent part of the human story and disease has taken lives throughout time, never have events converged in such a dramatic fashion. Before we can douse one more fire, another erupts.
Imagine standing at the edge of the ocean, toes in the sand, on a gorgeous early summer day. You have been waiting for this moment all year as you have peeled off your winter doldrums along with your mittens and boots. An unexpected wave knocks you off your feet. As you flounder and come up sputtering, another follows and another and another until exhaustion overtakes you.
Some people are adept at swimming to shore and some succumb.
For those who are pre-disposed to anxiety or depression or who are survivors of trauma, particularly multiply layered incidents, the virus and its impact are tidal wave overwhelming. The sense of helplessness to eradicate the problem, and the fear some hold of even crossing the threshold of their home out into the world is paralyzing. Many of the clients I see have expressed a paradoxical desire to interact with people and to remain sequestered at home in their safe haven. It is as if time has simultaneously stood still and is passing at lightning speed.
I can vouch for that as I entered quarantine in April and I stayed home for 11 weeks. Initially, my inclination was to huddle under the covers and sleep through the pandemic, awakening like Rip Van Winkle, into a new world in which all would be well, and we could return to ‘normal’. At first, I believed that a 14-day quarantine would be a safe period of time from which we would emerge and interact face to face. When two weeks turned into a month and then two and now three, I came to terms with the actuality that, like it or not, this would be my day to day reality. Seeing clients via telehealth, writing articles, editing a book, teaching online classes, catching up with family and friends via technology, working out in my living room with yoga mat, rebounder (mini trampoline), hand weights, and exercise ball part of my new decor…rinse and repeat. I also realized that I had a choice of what my lived experience would be. I had no control over what transpired outside my haven-home, but I could take charge of my thoughts about it. I could live in gut-wrenching fear or have hope for a positive outcome, even in the absence of concrete evidence as to how and when it will arrive. I call it my ‘now normal.’
As a health care professional who is not on the medical front lines but behind the scenes support for my clients as well as callers on a crisis hotline for employees of the hospital that owns our counseling offices, I need to manage my often wayward thoughts. Like the parent of a wandering toddler, I have to beckon them back and when they don’t comply willingly, have to take them by the hand and bring them to safety.
Call it coping or cognitive dissonance, which Leon Festinger, PhD described in his 1957 book, A Theory of Cognitive Dissonance. The concept declares that people feel ill at ease when they find that they have conflicting beliefs about a particular issue or when what they think and what they do are not a match.
An example is the mask-wearing debate. Early on in the pandemic the message was that masks were unnecessary unless someone was ill or was a caregiver for someone who had COVID-19. In particular, N-95 masks should be saved for health care professionals and were an excessive response for laypeople.
The narrative changed and the CDC gave face coverings a thumbs up. Some governmental leaders wore them, some eschewed them. Around the world, people were designing colorful homemade masks, either donating them or creating a new cottage industry and selling them. The jury is still not in on the efficacy of the facial covering for curbing the spread of the virus, but it has become a flashpoint and viewed by some as a partisan issue. There are some who for health reasons, wear a mask any time they are in a public space for their own protection or who feel as if they are being altruistic and shielding others as well as themselves.
Others adamantly oppose covering their faces since they believe it infringes on their rights to ‘breathe freely.’ While wearing a mask can be uncomfortable and, in my case, fogs up my glasses, since I am in a high-risk group as a 61-year-old with cardiac and respiratory issues, I gladly wear it. Would I prefer to be able to show my smile when I am speaking in public? Yes. Do I know for certain that mask wearing will keep me from contracting the virus? No. Will I continue to ‘suit up?’ Absolutely. Do I wish others would see it that way? Indeed, I do, yet I know I can’t compel anyone to do my will.
My hope is that as we work through our cognitive dissonance within ourselves and our world is that we keep breathing.
REV. EDIE WEINSTEIN, MSW, LSW
Love Ambassador, Opti-Mystic & Bliss Mistress
Edie delights in inviting people to live rich, full, juicy lives. She is an internationally recognized, sought after, colorfully creative journalist, interviewer, author and editor, a dynamic and inspiring speaker, licensed social worker and interfaith minister, BLISS coach, event producer, certified Laughter Yoga Leader, certified Cuddle Party facilitator, and Cosmic Concierge. Edie is the founder of Hug Mobsters Armed with Love, which offers FREE HUGS events world- wide on a planned and spontaneous basis. For more than three years, she was the host of the Vivid Life Radio show called It’s All About Relationships.
She speaks on the subjects of wellness, relationships, trauma recovery, addiction, mental health, spirituality, sexuality, loss and grief.
Edie is the author of The Bliss Mistress Guide To Transforming the Ordinary Into the Extraordinary and co-author of Embraced By the Divine: The Emerging Woman’s Gateway to Power, Passion and Purpose. She has also contributed to several anthologies and personal growth books, including Taming the Anger Dragon: From Pissed Off to Peaceful.
Over the past 30 years, she has had the honor of interviewing His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Louise Hay, Judith Orloff, Debbie Ford, Arielle Ford, don Miguel Ruiz, Wayne Dyer, Bernie Siegel, Deepak Chopra, Jack Canfield, Marianne Williamson, Grover Washington, Jr., Dan Millman, Ram Dass, Olympia Dukakis, Shirley MacLaine, Dennis Weaver, Mariel Hemingway, Ben & Jerry and SARK.
In the last four decades, she has worked with those who have been diagnosed with life-altering conditions, including mental health issues, cardiac disease, cancer, multiple sclerosis, infertility, end-stage conditions, eating disorders, addiction, traumatic brain injury, stroke, depression, and anxiety. She focuses on her clients’ resilience and assists them in developing a solid toolkit of coping skills. As both a clinician and a patient, she is aware of what it is like to be on the other side of the treatment relationship and can be of service to the patient, their caregivers, as well as the treatment team. Edie can address the issues that arise such as body image, trauma, sexuality, relationship changes, vulnerability, change in physical or cognitive ability, aging, end of life issues, and communicating needs.
If you want to:
- Embrace life fully
- Release patterns that have kept you from moving forward
- Re-write the narrative to create the life of your dreams and desires
- Enhance your relationships
- Become an Opti-Mystic who sees the world through the eyes of possibility
“Contact me today to see how I can meet the needs of your organization, publication or the person who looks back at you when you gaze in the mirror.”