Nothing lasts forever, a fact that the coronavirus has driven home very hard. But what happens to each of us when something creates global change? The obvious external changes can be easily seen, but what about the internal ones?
You may become depressed, anxious, traumatized, sleepless, or even just stop caring. If you recognize that this is happening, it's important to get help. Other changes may be external. For example, you could lose your job and other sources of income, which is horrendously stressful. Even people I know who have savings and did prepare for the worst are worried.
Our parents' jobs lasted until retirement. Now you may have several jobs in your lifetime. Many more people are becoming entrepreneurs with internet-based businesses, giving themselves a leg up as well as a safety net if their current day job goes away. And it's a good thing to do, because those who study the economic impact of these things see a very difficult time ahead.
If you have a good job (or any job right now), and there is still some money in the bank, and your 401K is almost OK (meaning you've only lost profit), you may wonder why you need a backup plan. But everything that we consider normal -- everything we've ever come to expect or prepare for -- just got knocked out of orbit by the pandemic.
I identify as a writer and licensed psychotherapist. Having that identity is important to my sense of being, and if either were to end, it would be very hard. That being said, I'll probably continue writing for as long as I can, but with therapy clients, it's different. For now, we have transitioned to teletherapy. On the upside, the fact that clients can reach me or their medical doctors more easily is very comforting for everyone. I also know that things will continue to change in ways we've never thought of before.
Right now, my teaching takes place online instead of in a classroom, and my interaction with clients and students is through the internet. Many others like myself are maintaining their professional and personal relationships in this way. Even though the world has forever changed, sharing our bond as human beings is one of the things that keeps us together mentally and emotionally. Let's make sure that continues.
Understanding that everything has a life cycle makes it a lot easier to deal with endings that we all have to face, even our own mortality. Do you remember record stores? I used to spend hours in them. What about eight-track tapes? I believe that there is one Blockbuster Video still open somewhere in Alaska, but whatever happened to answering machines? Yes, even voicemail is becoming a thing of the past -- it's all texting now. And these are just examples of solid or digital inventions that got passed over for something better.
I wrote my latest book in a completely different manner from previous ones as a result of technological innovations. At first, this change made me uncomfortable. I stalked it like a cougar in a cage, but after I warmed up to the idea, my writing flowed better than it has in years. Embracing change has helped maintain that part of my life's work, and it is something I think we will all have to do even more going forward.
Life isn't over for the vast majority of us. We just need to find a new way to do the things we enjoy, that support us, and stay close to the people we love.
(Dr. Barton Goldsmith, a psychotherapist in Westlake Village, Calif., is the author of "The Happy Couple: How to Make Happiness a Habit One Little Loving Thing at a Time." Follow his daily insights on Twitter at @BartonGoldsmith, or email him at Barton@bartongoldsmith.com.)
(c)2020 Barton Goldsmith
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