Why Can’t We All Just Get Along? How to Live in Harmony During the Quarantine
So, we are quarantined. Together time with our loved ones, ahhhhhh. So special. Something we could only ever dream about. We used to have to wait months on end for vacations like this where we could spend extended time together with those most dear to us. Now we have been quarantined together for weeks and it looks like our precious time together will continue indefinitely. Being together all day is like falling in love all over again. What a blessing this is, each day more amazing than the last. We see our loved ones as God’s gift to us. In this intimate time together, we start noticing the more subtle good qualities, some aspects of their personality that we have never actually noticed before. We are filled with delight at our newfound treasure. We cherish each day together, hoping it will never end.
Is that how you feel? Ha! Yeah, right! Well, okay, if you are one of those lucky few people who may feel this way, that is wonderful. I am happy for you that you are having this kind of lovely experience during the quarantine. However, personally speaking, I haven’t heard of anyone talking like this yet about their days in quarantine.
The quarantine experience for most people has been a downer to say the least. We feel anxious, scared, stuck, constricted, frustrated, even terrified. Some feel angry, irritated. Others overwhelmed. Many feel disconnected, isolated, and uncertain about so many things. Living at home with our loved ones can feel chaotic, hectic, crazy, and sometimes just downright depressing. We are often left at the end of the day wondering, how will I make it? This is just too much. Why doesn’t he help out more? Why is she so damn critical? Why won’t she stop nagging me? Why is he so selfish? Why can’t she understand me? What the hell is wrong with him? Why doesn't she listen? Why is he so stubborn? Why is she so controlling? Has he always been this bad? We find ourselves escaping into other, happier worlds online. Cracking open a cold one, downing a fresh glass of Pinot Grigio to take off the edge. Or make that two glasses, or three. Who cares? Whatever it takes to relax and forget about the stress of the day. Throw in a double-fudge brownie, Ben & Jerry’s cookie dough ice cream, and some Hershey’s kisses, no make it Krispy Kreme donuts, and we are off to a good start. When we can’t get any sweetness in our relationships, we can always find it in our food.
So what makes relationships so difficult? We all want love, yet we can’t seem to find it in those closest to us. So, what gives? Actually, the problem is that we don’t take the time to care for or truly understand the other. We are usually so worried and caught up in our own feelings and needs, that we forget about the other living beings around us. They too have needs, and feelings that are different than our own. They also become affected by what we say and do, or don’t do. In times of stress, we become even more focused on our self. So this makes the problem of living in close quarters, and feeling disconnected even worse.
To get out of this problem we have to become other-focused. Not to the point that we become codependent, and forget about our own feelings or needs in order to please the other. Then we know the story, we become resentful because the other doesn’t love, or appreciate us. No, no that is not what I mean at all when I say other-focused. What I mean by other-focused, is that we have to have empathy and sensitivity for the others around us. Instead of being focused so much on our worries, just for even 10 minutes, try to focus completely on the other. Sit down with them, and ask them how they are doing? Don’t hesitate. Ask them now. Ask them how they are feeling about this situation? Ask them if they need anything? Maybe they could use a shoulder rub to release some tension. Maybe they would love a cup of hot peppermint tea. Maybe they will share with you about their anxieties, some that you didn’t even know about because you were too caught up in your own. Ask them what the hardest thing about being quarantined together is for them? Ask them what is the most annoying part? Talk to them like you are falling in love with them all over again. Be curious. Explore their thoughts and feelings. Ask good questions. And then be a good listener. Put your phone away. Look at them and only them. When they are speaking, don’t hijack the conversation and add in your part. Just listen. Look into their eyes. Take in their energy. Give them your complete attention. Try to notice something about their sweet face that you have never noticed before. It is there. See if you can find it, no matter how long you have known them. Which eye is larger? Right or left? That says something about the person, you know, according to Vedic Face Reading, an ancient art on reading the face in order to understand a person's mind. Pay close attention. Study their face. Study their feelings. Give them your whole heart. Let their feelings move yours. For those of you in quarantine alone with no friends or family members, you can practice this exercise on a video call with a loved one.
The trick in all of this is to not expect anything in return. Don’t expect that they should now do the same for you, listening so intently, and caring so closely about your feelings and needs. Just let that part go. Drop your expectations. If you do this exercise correctly, you will feel full and complete just by listening to them. You won’t need them to return the favor.
This one simple act of listening closely, paying attention, and caring for another can change the whole dynamic of your relationships and quarantine experience. For in true love, it is in the giving, not the taking that makes one feel happy. Try it out, my friends. You just might surprise yourself!