Are you feeling a little or a lot overwhelmed with the prospect of emerging from your pandemic cocoon?
Is going back to work in an office, going out to restaurants and indoor events, and going back to “normal” per se…freaking you out at all?
If you’re nodding your head yes, then this week’s episode is for you!
I’m giving you 4 useful steps to gently integrate yourself back into the world and take with you all of the things you learned about yourself and your preferences during the pandemic.
Many of you have written to me expressing feelings of overwhelm or anxiety at the prospect of re-emerging into a less locked down life.
For my empaths and introverts out there, you might feel like you’ve gotten into a groove of staying in and feeling safe with the new routines you’ve created during the pandemic.
Let’s talk about what happened. We had a collective traumatic experience.
For many people, there were tremendous losses – loss of life, income, health, community, and the loss of so many things we might have taken for granted pre-pandemic.
While I am in no way devaluing or bypassing the trauma or loss anyone experienced over the pandemic, there can be a positive flip side to intense, dramatic, or traumatic peak life experiences.
A peak experience shakes up your life so that you’ll never go back to the way things were before.
It changes the rules, it changes your thoughts, it changes your priorities.
The pandemic was a game-changer for all of us, and I’d like to invite you into the transformative possibility of using this opportunity to embody some Boundary Boss Energy!
Here are 4 Ways to Boundary Boss Your Post-Pandemic Re-Emergence:
1. Be Selective + Mindful While Creating Your “New Post-Pandemic Normal”
Trauma creates room for transformation. When we experience any kind of trauma, our habituated behaviors, defense mechanisms, thought patterns, and routines get interrupted. There’s no way we can just do “business as usual,” because too much has changed.
Somehow, the experience provides an opening to do things differently. If you want to change things at work, at home, or for the rest of your life, now is the time to think deeply about what you really want.
What do you want to take from your experience of the pandemic?
I invite you to be mindful and selective while you think through the things in your life you want to change for the better. You have the power to create the new normal!
Being proactive in this way can prevent life from “just happening” to you and keep you from getting swept back into undesirable interactions and patterns.
Operating in a pandemic-survival mode can bring a LOT of clarity.
In both my professional and personal experience, some of the greatest opportunities for making big changes come when life throws us a game-changer. It wakes us up to what really matters and what doesn’t.
Use your newfound clarity and ask yourself: How do I want it to be? What do I want my “new normal” to be?
You can think through your life categorically and ask yourself what is and what isn’t working and then decide what positive changes you’d like to make. You don’t have to change everything at once! In fact, true, lasting transformation happens one step at a time, and it all starts with self-awareness.
2. Take Your Time
All of us will transition post-pandemic in our own ways. Some people might bounce back faster than others, but you don’t need to. It’s ok for you to be gentle with yourself.
What you need will be different than what someone else needs as you begin to re-emerge. Try not to feel compelled to accept every invitation. If you’re an insta-”yes” person, why not let 2021 be the year you let go of auto-accommodating the desires of others?
Give yourself your own new rule of engagement: implement a 24-hour decision-making rule. Not answering right away will give you time and space to really consider how YOU actually feel and what you want to do.
You don’t have to do something just because someone else would like you to. As a rule, I want to invite you to give yourself permission to say “no” to the crap you don’t feel like doing.
If you’ve been feeling extra fatigued, go easy on yourself. There’s been a certain amount of hyper-vigilance that came with the pandemic and the amount of bandwidth it took to stay safe and healthy was enormous.
So if you feel way more tired than you think you should take into consideration how exhausting the last year was. Take your time, be gentle with yourself.
Commit to actively and mindfully filling up your own bucket first.
3. Be Proactive with Your Boundaries at Work.
If you felt a sense of relief while working from home because you didn’t need to come into daily physical contact with problematic people, it’s time to get clear and set yourself up for success when you return to the office.
You know what’s not working. You know who the boundary bullies and the energy vampires are. And maybe thinking about going back into the office is making you cringe.
Now more than ever is a huge opportunity for you to set up a proactive boundary plan and communicate your preferences for how you want to interact in the workplace.
You can make a simple request and set it up ahead of time. Here’s an example:
“Going forward, my preference is we do most of our back and forth for projects through email. Getting on the phone takes me out of my productivity zone and I would appreciate it if we could limit calls unless absolutely necessary.”
It doesn’t mean people will always go along with what you want, but hey, maybe they will. Or you can negotiate 1 phone call a week instead of 10 or whatever the thing is.
You have nothing to lose by getting proactive, talking true, and starting the conversation with assertiveness and a positive vibe. (Because the energy that we approach a conversation with is the energy that the other person feels so might as well keep it positive and possible!)
4. Talk True and Honor the Lessons
What did you learn about yourself, your life, your work life, and your relationships during the pandemic?
Recently, one of my private clients was facing a conundrum. Because of the pandemic and sheltering in place, a longtime friend of hers dropped off. Now the friend wants to pick up where they left off.
However, my client realized she didn’t actually miss this friend and the relationship was really more of an obligation and a habit. She hadn’t felt satisfied or fulfilled in the friendship for a long time, but she still felt guilty.
Can you relate? If so, here’s what I told my client:
The pandemic was an opportunity for clarity.
If that is your truth, you get to decide how you’re going to go forward. Even if it feels uncomfortable, you have the right to decide who has access to your life and what is and isn’t ok with you. This is where proactive boundaries come in.
Relationships are voluntary. Whether it’s a friend, a romantic partner, or a family member (minor children excluded of course) you don’t have to stay in a relationship with someone if it no longer resonates with you. You have the right to end or modify any relationship.
We each get to decide who’s going to make it to our post-pandemic life. I encourage you to spend some time going within to find out why you might feel the way you do and then honoring your truth. There is something real about not being on autopilot. It can be the gift that comes from the disruption from your established norm, but it’s only a gift if you open it and use what you learn to make desired changes!
I truly believe this could be the perfect opportunity for you to create a life more aligned with your authentic self. By committing to a gentle transition and integrating back into the world with mindfulness and discernment, you have the power to make small shifts and lasting change. Talk true and honor the lessons you learned about yourself, your relationships, your life, and your work life. Become fluent in the language of healthy boundaries and learn as much as you can.
If you’ve struggled with boundaries, you’re not alone! In this week’s downloadable guide, I’m giving you clarifying questions to reveal the lessons you want to take with you into your “New Post-Pandemic Normal” + my “Boundary Boss Bill of Rights” to help you get a baseline understanding of what you have a right to in your one-of-a-kind amazing life!
There’s never a bad time to become a Boundary Boss, and more than ever, the world needs us to step into our most fully empowered, authentic selves. I hope this gave you food for thought and please, let’s keep the conversation going! Drop me a comment here or connect with me on Instagram @terricole.
I hope you have an amazing week embodying that Boundary Boss energy as you begin to re-emerge into the world and as always, take care of you.