What has changed in this new normal?
And the reason for our unhappiness and bitterness is in not being able to make peace with how our sense of worth has changed. The way we measure success and acceptance is no longer what it used to be, and holding on to the markers of the past normal, results in our inability to resolve how we feel about the way things are now.
The sooner we are able to let go of the old, the sooner we will be able to make peace with who we are in these times. We've been through several rounds of this now to know that these uncertain times are meant to stay here for a while, and we need to make peace with this new normal that is now life for the next couple of years at least.
Just think of the way we used to assess our sense of worth. We would feel popular and loved if we were invited to gatherings with many friends. If we were to speak in front of large audiences and have large crowds gather when we were going to do something significant, like teach or give a speech. All that is gone now, and the large crowds are replaced by zoom meetings. The large gatherings are now reduced to 5 or 8 people, and in this current heightened alert, only 2.
We no longer can measure our worth in terms of popularity and wantedness, by being with large numbers of people who want to be in our presence. We no longer know how to know if we are included and wanted, if we are not invited to congregations of people the way that we used to. We no longer know how to feel part of a community when we do not physically see ourselves amongst the community in a large physical gathering. As someone who used to travel to international yoga festivals all over the world, part of what made me feel validated as a yoga teacher was doing my whole rockstar thing and teaching mass sessions with 200-1000 participants, following along on their yoga mats as far as the eye can see. It was part of what made me feel celebrated and with the start of the covid era of sheltering in place, there is no more of that. Its been zoom and for many months of 2020, with only me in my hall and no physical people around participating in the real time session. Its been challenging to shift mode and to function in this way, and to make peace with this as the days became weeks and the weeks became months. My festival work is so much a part of who I am and the brand that I have been growing all these 15 years. I would get anxiety attacks before having to start a zoom class last year, but now, I have made peace with it and it no longer makes me feel like something is very very wrong.
I guess also, a large part of why we feel down and dreary is because we see travel as a way to mark the passing of time through being able to afford to indulge in something that is luxurious and for enjoyment. Not being able to identify as someone who 'loves travel' because we have all not been able to do so, wrecks havoc on the sense of worth of someone who prides themselves on being able to afford a nice vacation several times a year. There are many amongst us who choose a simple and undecorated home so that more money can be spent on experiences like long trips every year, or we may feel a connection to cultures in other countries and choose to place our sense of worth and identity in being able to travel to those places regularly. I know many friends who are extremely proud of being able to take trips to Europe several times a year, and their whole identity is wrapped up in that. Their whole consciousness of what is good in this world is connected to a place they love in Europe, or a restaurant they like in their travels that they benchmark all other restaurant meals against. To have that ability taken away makes them unhappy because so much of the ability to travel is their sense of worth, and being 'stuck' in Singapore means being 'one of the others'... the ones who don't travel and see the world that they see. I guess this is even more of a challenge for those who have lived in other parts of the world, because the yearning is stronger.
I guess the sooner we realise that these are constructs that we have created on our own, the sooner we will be able to consciously step away from them, and be grateful for what we have, rather than what we are currently not able to do. We can support each other as we learn to navigate this new normal and even though we may be physically distanced for safety measures, we can still find connection and not feel alone when we realise that we are not the only ones who feel this way.