Emotional Baggage: Leaving Your Bags at The Door

By Deirdre L. Jones Lowman

We survived.  But why are many of us battling with survivor’s guilt?   For me, this question provokes other questions.  Why am I still here?  What is my purpose?  Nothing is the same except everything is the same. What am I to do now?  Until the pandemic, I did not realize how we consistently violate one another’s personal space, not until 6 feet was physically measured out by a yellow measuring tape. The intimacy, associated with close encounters has been replaced with strategically placed floor squares—reminders to give each other space. Personal space, known as the 6-foot rule, is back with a vengeance. 

Our children excited about the prospect of seeing and playing with their friends, remain separated by clear plexiglass meant to protect, engage, and maintain social distancing recommendations. Instead, it warps their precious minds, as they too, re-adjust to the new normal of personal space, proper hygiene, and limited peer socialization.  The rapid thoughts and feelings of anxiousness, as we emerge from over a year-and-a half of social isolation and virtual engagement are overwhelming. This is true even for me, a life coach. How do we fathom, after excessive and manic purchasing and usage of disposable and cloth masks, the sudden and abrupt discontinuation and option of non-use?  What kind of mind-game is that CDC?  There is no “back to normal.” In fact, we must contend with a new normality (normalcy) or at least normal-like

The trauma of what the world went through is real. The feelings of isolation, anxiety, uncertainty, social injustices, and the inability to evade our own personal truths exist. The pandemic forced us to look at ourselves and reassess what is important and what was not.  It even forced us to parent our children instead of allowing mobile devices to occupy and inspire their little psyches. The workplace, also known as corporate America, is now a hybrid of what it used to be. It is teetering between virtual and in-person business operations. Business expectations that there should be no or limited intersectionality between work from home and work at home is absurd! Two phrases have re-emerged because of the pandemic:  work-life balance and boundaries. Productivity metrics, ultra-responsiveness to emails and the obligatory, attention to detail are skewed by the natural disruptions of the home office: slow and/or sluggish internet speed, unanticipated interruptions, zoom fatigue, and household responsibilities. The pandemic forced businesses to pivot, acknowledge the work and life demands of employees and empower them to balance both responsibilities. 

The emotionality of the 2020 pandemic has had an adverse impact on mental wellness, especially for working women.  As we re-integrate and reappear in 3D, with our re-imagined states of mind and being, heightened inclusivity, acceptance, and expectations, most of us are still holding on to the psychological trauma from the global pandemic experience.  We expect ourselves to push through, get it done, hold it together and be a role model. Release it! Let it go! Dump your emotional baggage! Go out and be great! Be who you imagined you would be on the other side of the pandemic!  Here are some helpful strategies for leaving your emotional baggage at the door: 

  • Acknowledge that you are not the same person you were a year ago.
  • Be gentle with yourself. You survived a traumatic event.
  • Recognize that feeling anxious is the anticipation of something that may or may not happen.  
  • Ask yourself, what can I do?  or how can I control or change the situation? If the answer is nothing or I can’t, then let it go!
  • Establish your boundaries, professionally and personally.  Make your boundaries clear; do not deviate from them. (There may be one or two exceptions—remember—exceptions tend to redirect your established path).
  • Protect those boundaries. Set clear expectations and demand respect of your boundaries.
  • Decide what gives you joy.  Then, do more of it!
  • Listen to your logic.  If we have learned nothing else, this year, we have learned to listen to and trust our inner voice.

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About

Deirdre L. Jones-Lowman, Ph.D. (Cand.), MPhil, MBA is the Founder and Managing Director of the Pay It Forward Initiative Life Coaching and Mentoring Service. The Pay it Forward Initiative is a M/WBE-certified, 100% female owned, career and life management practice. Deirdre is an ICF-ACC Coach, thought leader, motivational speaker, and self-care advocate who coaches women to give women their power back.  To learn more about the benefits of coaching, for inspirational and motivational content, or to book coaching services with Coach Deirdre, follow her on all social media platforms and/or visit her website: 

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