As weeks pass themes appear to be popping up in my personal life and my work with clients.  Two weeks ago, there was an overwhelming call out for people.  Sounds simple enough.  Life a month ago that was simple.  For example, imagine a single person living alone who had an unusually quiet weekend and a sense of disconnect grew as the weekend hours passed. When their alarm rang Monday morning, feelings of relief were felt as they knew they were going to the office where there may be exchanges with peers and a gathering, even a quick one in the breakroom at lunchtime.  Now, Mondays are different.  That single person may have that same emotional experience except now they are working from home.  Many grandparents who do not utilize iPhones or social media and are honoring social distancing may feel alone and perhaps forgotten where before they looked forward to Sunday dinners with grown children and grandchildren.

What about you?  What parts of your life now have separation from people you enjoyed seeing and spending time with?  Did you have a weekly routine of attending classes at Orange Theory or Platinum Fitness and now that they are closed you miss seeing your 5am or 5pm group?  Fridays after work did you hit Fort Myers Brewery for a bit and see friends before the start of the weekend?   Many of us in different seasons of life notice an internal pang to have “me” time.  Have those areas where you had them ended but the pang continues?

I want you to honor that feeling.  I get it if it feels hard or complicated.  Many of us just figured out how to manage working from home, support kids doing school from home, learning what face masks to buy, and how to get groceries quickly so that it doesn’t  feel as if you are on the game show Supermarket Sweep.  You have been figuring out complicated.

For some, the disconnect may open the door to feelings of anxiety or depression.  Due to this unexpected world crisis many have felt some degree of these feelings.  Working with feelings can lead to a sense of hope and balance.  It also may shift the sensation of a wave just grabbing you unexpectedly.

Spend some moments here and ask yourself, “Where did I regularly see and connect with others (on any level) and now that is not occurring?  Jot down your answers.  It may have been at the gym, your child’s school at pick-up, sessions with your executive coach, or with your hairdresser.  As you acknowledge this list what emotions do you notice.  Anger? Sadness? Shock?  All emotions are normal and expected.  As you know, we do not have a crystal ball as to when this will end.  I advocate to work with emotions or situations as they come (if it safe to do so).  In our case, let us get you with people now instead of when we can physically.  People are getting together over the internet to be together and spend time.  Some have the pang to do such get togethers but get stuck in the wording or expressing what they want, or their internal critical voice attempts to jump in a sabotage the intention.

So here we are on Sunday and I say we get ahead of the weekend in front of us!  If you already have such social things organized that’s awesome!  Please cheer on others as they may learn on lean on you to dig into the uncomfortable parts to feel some of what you are experiencing.  For others, keep reading for some tips to organize and get the most out of your online social get togethers.

Tips to organize and enjoy your upcoming online get togethers

1.  Give yourself permission to be vulnerable when asking

Let me explain.  Over the last few weeks, I have had numerous individuals and couples share they miss friends and family but have discomfort in approaching them to “get together.”  The power of role play has been incredibly helpful during our online sessions.  You possibly may be wondering what is getting in the way of asking?  It is things like individuals coming from families where feelings were not shared or mentioned.  Some people have the comfort zone of having others be the social organizers.  Being assertive is a growing place still for others and they get caught up on “not having enough practice yet.”

I am proud and grateful there has been openness (even with the discomfort) to try.  Here is the special part of all this.  This incredibly hard and unprecedented life space is nudging us to lean into discomfort and we are!

Here are two possible ways you could put yourself out there to request an online get together.  See if you notice a difference.  In this first example the individual emails or texts a person or group and says something like,” Hey guys, I hope you are all well.  There are these online video platforms we could try to get together if you want.  Just let me know.”  While this example does express what they want it leaves room for potential unintentional silence or waiting on the other end.  Those experiences can lend to overthinking, anxiety, and self-doubt.  None of these we want to open the door to.  Instead consider, “Hey guys, you all welcomed me when I first moved here. Honestly, I was thrilled to make friends quickly.   It feels like forever since we got together, and I miss you all.  I would love to set up an online get together for us this weekend.  Please let me know if Friday or Saturday works better.  Make-up and done hair optional, yoga pants a must!” or to family, “I know our family reunion is set for July.  I miss you all and with what is going around us. I have this need to see you, your faces and talk now.  I can set up an online meeting for us to check-in on each other and just be together.  Please let me know if doing coffee and conversation this Saturday or Sunday work best.  Miss and Love you.”

Did you notice a difference?  Is the second example pushing you out of your comfort zone?  It may and that is okay.  We know you can step out of your comfort zone.  You have been doing it for weeks already.  I get it.  This one may feel harder.  Go back and remember who you are missing and why you want to connect.  Think of what and how you would say it to them if you reached out.  What do you want them to know?  Believe you can be more vulnerable with those in your closer circle.

2.  Consider taking the lead when the call starts.  Do a check-in.  Suggest a theme/topic.

Woo hoo!!!  You sent out the group text and bam, they all want to do it   Coffee (or wine) and conversation are set up for one day this upcoming weekend. Have thoughts in your head now gone to what will we talk about?  What if we all talk at once?  What if there are internet challenges or awkward silences?  Allow yourself to exhale. If you want, when you send the link out you can simply share a loose framework.  When everyone gets online ask everyone to check-in.  Do it in your words.  It does not have to feel like group therapy.  You may look like the Brady Bunch depending on the platform you use.  This alone will probably create some giggles.

I am in two large groups that meet weekly.  Each has a different flow and energy.  The beauty of the groups is that there is flexibility and openness to share.  One weekend one of the groups gave space for listening, providing support, sharing ideas and suggestions.  Movies are now being watched in the other as “homework.”  People can come and go as needed.  There are laughs, some serious moments, acknowledgements of birthdays, high school seniors sharing college acceptances and everything in between.  Have fun with it.  Be creative.  Many parts of life now feel stressful.  Allow these meetings to provide relaxation, connection, support and fun.

3.  Go into the experience with the intention to set a day and time to meet again the following week.

One positive thing about staying at home is just that.  We are home.  Months ago, it may have taken months to plan a girl’s night or a family BBQ with friends.  Between things like kids’ soccer schedules, dance classes, other school events, work deadlines pulling some into the office for a few hours on a weekend day it often felt so challenging to connect.

I understand, this type of “get together” feels different.  It is different.  The hope is that it is also temporary (unless of course your group loves it and finds it much more convenient).  You have done the hard work already.  Let me break it down for you so you can see how much patting on the back you earned: You honored your feelings and needs, you allowed yourself to recognize who you are missing and want to connect with, with vulnerability you put yourself out there to be heard and seen in an assertive way.  Let’s keep you going!!  When the online call is close to ending finish it by sharing appreciation and invite everyone to do it again next week.  If a short discussion needs to occur to discuss days/times let that happen.  Congrats, you did it!

Reach out to me at 239-848-2022 to schedule and ask any questions about gaining support through online sessions or schedule/learn more at www.heleneshute.com.

You do not have to go through this time alone.


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