Will The Next Pandemic Be Crisis Fatigue?

Living without agency depletes your life force.

2020 began with a pop that fizzled and went bang within a few short weeks as an unprecedented surge of new cascading traumas set in motion. The Covid 19 pandemic, economic recession, racial trauma, social unrest and weather-related disasters swept across the world. The mental health consequences of direct media informed exposure to compounding stress factors were palpable. I remember my step-daughter, who was nine years old at the time, quietly asking, “Can we please turn the TV off? The news is making my heartache.” We did. As parents and guardians of children, it was our job to protect the vulnerable. And to protect the vulnerable meant that we needed to remain mentally and emotionally healthy too.

As lockdowns continued, a sense of safety and peace was sustained by minimising exposure to the deluge of doom. Stories of looming disasters had informed the previous years. Climate activists alerted us to the terror of a world about to end, burdened by too many living souls, overconsumption and greed. “We are running out of time.” and “How dare you.” The message was clear; the children were not happy with the grown-ups. “You have stolen our childhood.” These warnings touched on some uncomfortable truths. The older generation was neither valued nor respected by a younger generation who saw them as a burden they no longer wanted to carry.

Collective trauma is not new. Our understanding of its impact is getting better. We know that collective trauma can rumble on down the line and will pass from one generation to the next. Decades of research on collective trauma suggest that each of these crises may independently have mental health consequences for exposed individuals, ranging from short-term anxiety to longer-term depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). And we know from empirical data that exposure to a lifetime of adversity is associated with greater difficulty in coping with subsequent stressors. Indeed, the more stress we experience early on in life, the more likeliness of later distress, functional impairment and reduced life satisfaction. It is also true that a certain degree of stress can be beneficial. It builds resilience. Low levels of adversity may teach us what coping skills are helpful.

With this in mind, when cascading collective traumas meet and unite, the historical and current, we must ask questions about what we might expect of the future. What are the long-term effects of Crisis Fatigue? Is it a sustainable and healthy way to live?

The Price of Sacrifice.
To feel fully alive and filled with energy is our birth right. The constant calls to each new unfolding crisis demand that we sacrifice ourselves for the benefit of others. It is a noble cause that will immediately pull on the conscience of those who have learned from an early age to devote their life to tending to the needs, cares, desires, and goals of others at the expense of their own. If you live your life without agency, you will invariably end up suffering in some way. It may be physically, emotionally, psychologically, spiritually, or it may be that your relationships take the hit. Suppose you spend a greater portion of your life concerned with how everything you do will impact others or the future of the planet’s survival? Then you are sacrificing yourself—an unnamed, unrecognised martyr to a cause that began billions of years ago.

Since humans first walked this earth, we have lived in fear of the end of the world. Annihilation is a deep fear for many, and so too is a desire to prevent death and suffering. Typically, we tend to take rather dramatic and drastic steps to alleviate a crisis whilst inadvertently creating new problems as a result.

When our good deeds for others define our sense of wellbeing, and the feedback we receive about being good for sacrificing ourselves for others becomes a form of social currency, it will eventually drain our vitality, energy and lifeforce.

It did not start with you.
These patterns of self-sacrifice often begin in our family of origin. A child who subconsciously learns that they must carry the burden of the parents, guardians, adults or other family members is living without agency. The child learns that their survival is dependent on them protecting others and putting others needs before their own. Subconsciously, the child may have picked up a sense that other family members were emotionally needy, so they try to come to the rescue. If left untended, this pattern of belief becomes a pattern that can continue into the adult years.

Some children learn that a mother needed their help because she was depressed, anxious, single, stressed, busy, or emotionally needy. Or it may be that the child’s father was physically absent, or he too was emotionally needy. Perhaps the child felt it was their role to mediate family dramas and disputes. They may have learnt to be the funny one, the peacemaker, or the hero to distract from family tension. A child may also learn to sacrifice themselves and their wellbeing to take up the burden of unresolved emotional family trauma through epigenetic inheritance.

The child is not only subconsciously seeking a resolution to a lack of balance in the family system. They are naturally disposed to carry the same pattern out into the world and seek to fix the world’s problems. Blind to their core needs, they desire to put the needs of others before their own, they struggle to connect with their true self, and they are unable to live a fully expressed life.

When we pull focus and look at the wider world, we find that millions of people are living without agency. A lack of agency is not just a wound of the individual; it is also a wound of the system. When there is a lack of agency, there is not just the desire to help others by sacrificing the self; each new crisis carries the potential to ignite fear, anxiety, a sense of lack, despair and fatigue.

Everywhere we look, the symptom of crisis fatigue can be seen and felt. Fatigue carries with it grief, a sense of loss. Grief is often standing behind anger, frustration, rage, depression and other critical mental health issues.

Even if it costs me my life
For those living without agency, there is a notable lack of ability to put their needs first. It is not unusual for them to say I will do this until x, y or z changes. There is a constant putting off or delay in attending to what they want or need. It also leaves them vulnerable to exploitation, abuse, being taken advantage of, or coerced into taking further steps to sacrifice their wellbeing in favour of a ‘greater cause.’ History shows us that many ‘great causes’ designed to alleviate a crisis drove an atrocity that seeded another collective trauma.

The body keeps the score.
Our body has a memory; it stores our experiences. Our bodies can shake with laughter and tremble with fear. When we recall the memory, we can remember the feeling. When we live without agency, the body will feel a sense of anger, resentment, internalised rage that accumulates over time. There may be rage and envy when we see others unwilling to make the kind of self-sacrifice we believe is ‘right’ and virtuous. Some may even think that those who do not sacrifice as they do are selfish, inconsiderate or have a low sense of moral and civic duty.

Living without agency robs you of wellbeing and vitality. Eventually, this inner dis-ease will manifest itself through body symptoms and chronic illness. You will feel hard done by and resent those who seemingly have more.

The problems in society mirror the issues we see in families.

Back to the future
As individuals, we are part of the system of society, and we are part of the system of nature. We are interdependent; your wellbeing supports the wellbeing of the other and the wellbeing of the planet. It is not possible to separate one from the other if we intend to alleviate the cycle of collective trauma and crisis.

In that case, it follows that we must tend to the impact of a repetitive crisis narrative. It is not necessary to turn a blind eye to challenges. It is helpful and necessary to engage narratives that encourage and are supportive, instead of ones that dissuade healthy engagement through shaming and blaming. We must recognise the need to build wellbeing into the systems that surround us.

Naturally, caring for future generations means thinking about the wellbeing of children today. The Children’s Commissioner for England has spoken to many children around the country and discovered that the primary concern of most children today is wellbeing and mental health.

If it is genuinely our intention to live in a healthy, vital world on a planet that is well supported, loved and nurtured, it starts with us. As parents, guardians, and elders, we are responsible for supporting mental health and wellbeing by addressing what needs to be resolved from the past first. I know from my work that the impact of this on the present and future outcomes are so effective most of my clients are amazed.

As we heal, the planet will heal along with us. If the owner of a farm wants to grow healthy crops that produce nutrient-dense foods, the first task of the farmer is to nurture the seeds and the soil simultaneously. Soil and seed are mutually dependant on the wellness of the other; it is a healthy model for society, business and life.

Is a vaccine against Covid19 the ultimate solution?

As we find our footing in 2021, the year that was 2020 lingers in the rearview mirror. It was for many a challenging time. Many faced the challenge of changes brought to work and home life. Whilst others faced the fear and difficulty of being more directly affected by the virus. 

I have certainly seen a rise in the number of people seeking out my professional coaching skills as a range of unexpected reactions and issues presented themselves. Most notable are some of the following:  

  • Anxiety 
  • Fear  
  • Reduced ability to drive creativity and innovation
  • Feelings of isolation
  • Low mood and self-motivation
  • Declining team spirit and morale at work due to the lack of social contact
  • Insecurity about potential job loss, income loss, uncertainty
  • Diminished confidence in capabilities 
  • Feeling overwhelmed
  • These are just a few…

As our health and wellbeing became the number one priority, many realised how essential good mental and emotional health is to their wellbeing and survival.

Sadly, many more people are suffering in silence. There is an unspoken suggestion that they must prioritise the vulnerable, without acknowledging that they too are vulnerable. As a result, many do not feel that they can speak up about these other issues. In the climate of 2020, where less was known, there was a real sense that it was not appropriate to voice these other concerns, which is understandable. 

When we know better, we do better.

In 2021 we are far wiser. Prevention is always more effective than a cure. I know that the mentally, emotionally and physically healthy do not get ill. Young physically fit people may well get sick and die, yet we are all blind to the state of their emotional and mental health.

There is significant scientific data to show that living in a constant state of fear and stress are just two factors that can have a significant negative impact on our immune system and health. Yet it is the key staff, high-performers and newer recruits who are at considerable risk of being impacted by the issues raised above. That is why what I do is so important and valuable. 

As a highly-skilled coach, my job is to provide a safe, non-judgemental space for executives and high-performance individuals to explore the challenges and feelings they face now and find the solutions. 

A solution – focussed approach

I provide the support, coaching, hypnotherapy, and NLP the resources needed to navigate remote working, which is now a longterm prospect for many. When the time comes to transition back to the office environment, the return will be seamless. It is essential to the wellbeing of the individual and the business that key staff and high performers retain and enhance their performance level, productivity and confidence. 

Covid19 has taught us that bespoke coaching is essential as each of us live and work with our unique experiences, responses, and reactions. For some crisis management is a daily issue; for others, it may be issues that arise in personal areas of life that impact professional performance. Work and home life are brought closer together in the absence of a daily commute. 

Whatever you are struggling with, now is always the best and least expensive time to address it.

To book a session, you can contact me here.

 

In Conversation with Charlotte Hellekant – Opera Singer

In conversation with Swedish mezzo-soprano Charlotte Hellekant. Together, we explore travel and its meaning in our personal and professional experience of life.

In a time when travel has become significantly restricted as a result of the novel coronavirus, it seemed fitting to celebrate with gratitude how travel shapes and informs the quality of our lives.

Charlotte Hellekant has an international career as a regular guest with many notable opera houses, conductors and orchestras. And, a repertoire ranging from baroque to contemporary classics. Charlotte has inspired some of the world’s leading composers to write especially for her including; Luciano Berio, Toshio Hosokawa, Philippe Boesmanns and Stefano Gervasoni.

Charlotte has collaborated with Pina Bausch (Gluck’s Orfeo e Euridice at Opera Garnier) and Sasha Waltz (Hosokawa’s Matsukaze at Staatsoper Berlin, Brussels, Luxembourg, Tokyo and Monteverdi’s Orfeo at Staatsoper Berlin, Brussels, Baden-Baden). Other roles include Carmen (Glyndebourne), Charlotte in Werther (Deutsche Oper Berlin), Marguerite in La Fura dels Baus production of La damnation de Faust (Salzburg and Ruhrtriennale), Judith in Duke Bluebeard’s Castle (BBC Proms), Clairon in Capriccio (La Monnaie) Cornelia in Giulio Cesare (Zurich).

Charlotte Hellekant’s orchestral repertoire includes all of the Mahler song cycles and symphonies, Les Nuits d’été by Berlioz, Sheherazade by Ravel, Berio’s Folksongs, Chants d’Auvergne by Canteloube, Gurrelieder by Schoenberg, Berg’s Sieben frühe Lieder. She has collaborated with conductors such as Sir Georg Solti, Ashkenazy, Dohnany, Salonen, Eschenbach, Dudamel, Nagano and Minkowski.

Recent seasons include Charlotte in Autumn Sonata for Malmö Opera and Hong Kong and Polina in Pique Dame at La Monnaie with Nathalie Stutzmann conducting. Charlotte Hellekant has also curated and directed Hedvig Leonora for the Drottningholms Slottsteater as well as Hosokawa’s monodrama The Raven at the Grand Théâtre de Luxembourg and Théâtre des Bouffes du Nord in Paris.

Charlotte is also a Mental Coach for classical musicians. She is a stage director for opera and creator of other projects, often exploring the synergy of the various art forms combined.

In Conversation with Helen Reid

How to have a difficult conversation about race and racism.  Helen and I explore how inherent bias impacts us all.  We explore how we can learn and grow from listening to each other.

Helen is an Intuitive Guide and Human Design Specialist – she supports women across the globe to take back their power with grace. Helen guides her clients and her community to remember who they are at the soul level, and create emotional and financial freedom doing the work they adore.

Helen’s work supports the courageous, embracing and graceful letting go of generations worth of struggle and shame so that together we can create a New Earth.

Previously, Helen spent eight years working as a corporate tax lawyer in London. After having children, her priorities changed, and she decided to follow her passion for human behaviour, growth, and evolution.

Since leaving her legal career, she has specialised in supporting corporate professionals to move beyond the mundane roller coaster of modern life, guiding them to connect with their soul’s essence and true purpose in this world.

Helen now lives in Southern Spain with her husband and two young children, enjoying a slower pace of life and the year-round sunshine.

You can discover more about Helen here

In Conversation with Kelvin O’Mard

Kelvin O’Mard first came to the public’s attention in 1974 when he appeared as a boy soprano in the original production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dream Coat. As an actor, Kelvin worked for notable companies such as The Royal Shakespeare Company, Bristol Old Vic, The Royal Court Theatre, to name but a few. Kelvin has also made numerous appearances in film and television.

In addition to an extensive career within the arts, Kelvin has worked as a project manager for Haringey Council, Hackney Council, and most recently Westminster Council where he is a key worker supporting the wellbeing of fifty women. All those under his care have survived the Coronavirus health crisis.

In this interview, we explore Overcoming. Overcoming adversity in childhood, the trauma of loss, grief, and abuse. I wanted to know who or what supports a key worker that enables them to help us when we face challenges in our own lives.

Lucille Dwek painted the portrait of Kelvin as part of a project to honour and say Thank You to key workers during this global pandemic.

Why victims blame others

It is so much easier to blame others for all our failings and missed opportunities in life. But, in fact, no one else is responsible for how you feel except you. No one can make you feel a certain way and equally you are not responsible for making someone else feel a certain emotion. Both require permission. Every single thought that we have, every action we take, everything that we feel comes from within. If we choose to hold a grudge against someone that hurt us, first, it creates anger and resentment within ourselves, secondly, it absolves us of personal responsibility and accountability – a lack of maturity born of insecurity and weakness.

Unfortunately for us, easier is not better and rarely makes us happier. In my younger days I did my fair share of blaming not realising that it was the blaming that was restricting my progress in life. There are no solutions to be found when we are pointing our fingers towards the world out there as we remain the victim. As victims we are caught in the net of self pity, there is no solution for self pity only a life time spent nursing our grudges and grievances.

Our feelings and emotions hold powerful sway over our lives, if we are too frightened to explore them they will take us hostage as they dictate the outcome of our lives. The question is why are we so terrified of our feelings, after all they are just feelings, they are in a constant motion of ebb and flow. It seems that a particular driving force can be our fear of our own vulnerability, that we need others and if we admit that we need others we put ourselves at risk of rejection or that our needs might not be met. The problem is that eventually those suppressed emotional needs will haunt you and then they will catch up with you and present themselves in a far more dramatic way.

What few of us realise is how our life experiences shape us, especially when we are children, they form the foundation of who we are. Who knows what experiences lead people to believe that they are super beings, super humans who can carry the world on their shoulders, a common trait among those who tend to believe that who they are as they are is not quite good enough. As a result we develop strategies to fill the void, usually these strategies are unhelpful. The result is that our physical and mental health is compromised and we learn to live with this compromised version of ourselves oblivious to the fact that our best self has been left behind.

The solution is to take a deep dive inside and identify what it is that we need, what is missing, and then find a healthy way to get it.

It is our experiences that shape us, as adults we have a responsibility to ourselves and to the greater good of all to recognise the patterns of behaviours that are contributing to making us unhappy or limiting our ability to express our full potential.

What if we tried something else? Imagine how much stronger you would feel if you chose to take responsibility and identify what it is you really need, and then find a way to get it in a new or different way.

Our mental health and wellbeing and the impact it has on our personal life and professional performance depends directly on addressing our unmet emotional needs. It takes courage to explore these suppressed parts of ourselves, it requires a willingness to put in the effort and understand the value of investing in yourself. Of course this will be challenging if you are secretly of the belief that you are not worth much. We must then consider that the price we will pay for not understanding our worth is going to be high, it may even cost you your life. Doubtless, the benefits and rewards reaped for making the effort to invest in your most valuable treasure, yourself, are immeasurable.

What are you passing to your children?

Dr Jung tells the story of a parent who came in for treatment of an ailment. When asked to share their dreams they replied that they never dreamed, but that their six year old child had very vivid dreams. Dr Jung asked them to record their child’s dreams. The parent brought their child’s dreams for several weeks and then suddenly began dreaming themselves. The child’s heightened dreams stopped immediately.

Dr Jung explained to the parent that, unwittingly – they had fallen into the usual modern collective attitude toward such things – and had failed to take care of an important aspect of their own life, the child had out of a loyalty in love been obliged to carry that burden for them.

If you wish to give your children the best heritage, give them a clear subconscious, not your own unlived life, which is hidden in your subconscious until you are ready to face it.

In Conversation with Tasha Jackson author of Master Dater

In this episode of Conversations with Ourselves, I chat with Tasha Jackson (Fitzgerald) about her book Master Dater: The Dating Guide For Finding Love In A Digital Age. It is informative and very funny. The book, much like the author is the cool breeze and Californian sunshine we could all do well to infuse into our dating and relationship experiences. I can’t recommend it enough.

Tasha has a diverse clientele that ranges from drag queens to CEOs. Based in San Francisco, Tasha Jackson is a Psychotherapist, Marriage Family Therapist and Relationships Counsellor. She has been widely published in academic journals and has guest lectured as a master-level teacher.

Raised by a lesbian mother, Tasha gained national attention for being an early advocate for the LGBTQ community, and was one of the first USA based therapists to openly advocate for gay parenting. Tasha holds a master’s degree in counselling psychology.

You can find a copy of her book Master Dater: here

For more information on Tasha you can visit her website: here

You can also connect with her on:
Twitter @TashaJacksTweet
Instagram: @Shrink_shots tashajackson.com

To enjoy the conversation please click the podcast link below.

I Remember When

I remember when the setting of the sun signalled the end is nigh. We said Amen in the fear another day would not greet us again.

I remember when in Medieval times we feared crossing the sea because the world was flat and life would end.

I remember when Armageddon was the 2nd World War for the 1st World War to end the wars that would end all time.

I remember when they promised a Nuclear War would end the world. I slept in fear, anxiety ridden as sirens sang throughout the night.

I remember when a giant CFC whole in the sky stopped us spraying on Impulse.

I remember when a giant concrete A fell across the TV screen warning of a terrible disease that would obliterate all mankind in 10 short years.

I remember when the cows went mad and we were sad that our global death would be bovine and not divine.

I remember when an Inconvenient Truth promised the end of ice to put in our tea.

I remember when our Carbon Footprint turned out the lights.

I remember when I learned that the easiest way to control a mass of people was to keep them living in fear of dying.

I remember when death became so frightening I lost my fear of dying.

I remember when kids spoke truth to power as they joined us in our fear of dying.

I remember when the sun came out to shine and people complained that it’s presence was a sign that extinction was coming.

I remember when.

In Conversation with Deborah Brand

Deborah Brand is a London based bespoke corsetière. She began her career in fashion in the 1990’s. Over the years Deborah has had the pleasure of dressing numerous celebrity clients including Naomi Campbell, Amal Clooney, Bjork, Cara Delevingne, Kylie Minogue, Kim Kardashian, Salma Hayek, Penelope Cruz and Thandie Newton to name but a few.

As one of the world’s leading corsetières, corsetry is integral to Deborah’s designs. Her mission is to make all women look and feel the very best version of themselves.

The tide of women’s changing gender roles has heralded a change in our relationship to the corset. Once a symbol of restraint and chastity, corsets are finding a new place in the wardrobes of empowered women.

Listen as Deborah shares her intimate insights and understanding of the evolution of women’s underwear in society today

For more information on Deborah and her beautiful corsets visit her website here.