Corinne Knowles

Lecturer: Extended Studies Unit
Facilitator: TAI Mentoring Project
Rhodes University

We usually live fairly comfortably with conflicting ideas about ourselves and the world, because we can distract ourselves with tasks and spaces that diffuse them or compartmentalise our different selves. But in this time of crisis, these contradictions are amplified: the country (and world) is on pause, as we scramble to prevent more infections and deaths, and adjust to vastly changed circumstances. Being at home with children for prolonged periods, working while on “vacation”, trying to write while sharing space, being thrust into online lesson preparation, being unable to follow through on our usual activities and distractions, or being alone when we are used to interacting with others every day, are just some of the changes we are living with. It is harder to ignore our dissonances, so how do we resolve them?

  1. Sit with the contradictions that are causing discomfort.  Perhaps you are feeling depressed about your relationships: you thought you were a better parent/partner/peer. You find yourself being irritated and frustrated with others who expect more, and better from you. Or perhaps you thought you loved being on your own but are gripped by loneliness and depression. That’s okay. Notice the triggers, and the times or circumstances that make you feel worse, so that you can find better strategies to deal with the changes. 
  2. Journal your feelings. Write for 7 minutes without editing, to give your sub-conscious an opportunity to empty itself of the conflicting ideas. It won’t resolve them, but it is a way to clear your head for more conscious efforts to work with the areas that are tricky.
  3. Be inventive. Because you are stuck at home, doesn’t mean that you are stuck. So, find one thing to do everyday that reminds you of the better or different person that you are – write a sweet note to a partner/child/friend/colleague/student, reminding them of the things you love or admire or respect about them. Find a poem or slogan or quote or picture that inspires you and reminds you who else you are, and do something with it: paste it or post it as a mantra for you and/or your loved ones. Make something, clean something, move something, as a way to shift the energy.
  4. Develop strategies to change the beliefs or behaviours that are causing you stress. This isn’t easy, but by looking at the contradictions more purposefully, you can learn about yourself, and begin to use the insights to adjust your behaviours. We are not always aware of our inner contradictions, but they affect our moods and actions, and can have an impact on our relationships. Use the time to think through, to grieve, to let go.
  5. Again, be kind. Life is complicated and confusing and uncertain. It is not just you. So be kind to yourself, and hopefully this will inspire you to be kinder to others too.