Like everyone, our friends at Children’s Health Council (CHC) are learning how to live and work during COVID-19. And as for everyone, it’s not easy. Here, CHC’s Chief Clinical Officer, Ramsey Khasho, PsyD, explores an important tool in our ability to deal with this or any major change: Acceptance.
It’s our eleventh day of “shelter-in-place.”
I’m working remotely from my garage, a makeshift office comprised of a dining room chair, portable folding table and a laptop. My wife, who is not a teacher, is in the house helping our three kids “distance learn,” trying to get them to focus on fractions and word problems.
I feel that anxious knot in my stomach. The one where the crisis tidal wave has just crashed over you and you’re left with a sense of disorientation and deep, knotted worry. It’s hard to focus on anything else. How will we manage the kids and work? What about my parents, who are older and live 400 miles away? I am worried about my colleagues and clients.
I remind myself that if I continue to carry this weight, I can’t fully be there for others. I need to work through this so that I may be fully present with myself and with others to guide us all through these uncertain waters.
The reality is that we can’t change the way things are right now. We have little control over how long we’ll be sheltering-in-place or how the Coronavirus will affect us. We can be angry and place blame, or we can redirect this energy towards something more positive, to find and create the silver linings.
This concept is called Radical Acceptance, and is one of the core principles of Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT). It’s a conscious choice to stop resisting the way things are and accept them completely, unconditionally. It doesn’t mean we have to like or approve of these circumstances, just acknowledge them in order to reduce the suffering caused by the futility of trying to change something that is out of our control.
This has perhaps never been more critical.
Once we radically accept that things are a certain way, we can think about how to change our emotions or behaviors to overcome challenges, enhance our situation and improve our lives.
Radical acceptance doesn’t mean that our anxious thoughts will go away for good. They creep up with every news story, sneeze and sibling squabble. Radical acceptance is a conscious choice that we need to make multiple times a day (or, in some cases, hour).
I stop to focus on my breath. I remind myself to take one day at a time. I try to be present and in the moment. I concentrate on grounding myself in my chair, engaging mindfulness by focusing on the people and places around me. I practice gratitude for my family, friends, coworkers, clients. I seek out the silver linings: hugging my kids throughout the day; walking my dog; offering critical mental health services remotely to those who need them most. I challenge my anxious thoughts with acceptance and grace. I focus on knowing that there will be an end and there will be new beautiful beginnings.
At CHC, we are just like you. We feel, we worry and we care about our kids, just like you. We understand, we care and we are right alongside you. Just as we believe in the promise and potential of every child, we believe in the capacity and the innate strength of every parent.
We will not let the Coronavirus take us down. With nearly 70 years of experience helping local kids, teens, young adults and families navigate some of life’s most difficult challenges, we are not going anywhere. CHC stands strong for you and your family. We are open and available for therapeutic services via telehealth. We continue to be there for our current clients and new families alike. Just call: our expert clinical team is ready to help you with the same compassion and care that you know and trust.
Ramsey Khasho, PsyD
Digging Deep accepts guest posts on many topics from a wide range of experts, patients, health care practitioners, and others who work with sick children and teens. We welcome your perspectives and stories to share regarding ways to support the emotional needs of children with health challenges and the families and professionals who support them. Please email: email@example.com if you would like to be a guest blogger.