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Finding Peace in Turbulent Times

May 17, 2020 ● By Ellen Katz
Self care, journal writing, healing, positive

Photo by Negative Space for Pexels

Our days run together, void of our "normal" schedules, while our work, home and neighborhood walks seamlessly spill over one another, a rudderless voyage with no clear destination. At first we were, at times, delighted - it was a renewal, an adventure: a time to garden, rediscover old friendships, read the book we'd been eyeing for months. But then it continued. The novelty has dimmed. Zoom communities commiserate, trying to push back against imagined future scenarios and the infinite unknowns.

Many can't wait to "go back to normal". They are either unable or unwilling to wait, despite official safety recommendations. On the home front, familiarity can breed contempt; old resentments simmer and surface. We think the problems we're dealing with our "out there", circumstances or people we can't control.

A fundamental global impairment has been exposed. We don't know how to be with ourselves, soothe ourselves, or know our essential happiness. Ironically, we even are more alone in "normal" times than we know, because our endless opportunities for distraction numb us to it. 

This is the root of the existential angst and collective ennui that is the source, the underlying restlessness that is beginning to erupt everywhere. 

There is a path to healing. It is stunningly simple, but we have to surrender to it, believe it will make a difference and literally plan for and allot time for it. This is not something we can achieve by reading, memorizing, taking a test and moving on. It is a fundamental shift in the way we live.

We have to pick a place and time to do the work, every day—15 to 30 minutes is enough. If we can’t do that for ourselves, it’s diagnostic in itself—we’re out of control of our time and either suffering from severe codependency, or worse!

The first goal is to reconcile our past disappointments, wounds and traumatic memories. We do this initially by sitting down privately and writing out all the things about ourselves that we don’t like, have shame about or know we need to change.Then, we discover our “inner mediator” or coach who can guide us into a state of humility, where we can admit mistakes, make amends and forgive the parts of ourselves that have failed, attacked or hidden away from us for years.

We need to recognize that this process takes time. It’s an ongoing commitment, every day, to a ritual of self-care that includes slow, steady breathing (meditation), stretching and listening to or reading something inspiring. This allows to clear the space in our minds that we need to make the shift.

Next, ask yourself what you would have really wanted, or would even want now, if you had the best friend or partner imaginable, sitting next to you—what would you want from them? What would they say to you, really? Write these qualities and actions down.

Imagine slowing down, really hearing those messages, the ones that have come from a wise imaginary person, who is really a version of your best self. Notice how it feels to hear this. Pay attention to the sensation in your body and breathe it in.

Make baby-step commitments to yourself to make incremental changes toward staying connected to and providing for your own needs and visions. Write these in your calendar as action item “dates” with yourself.

Establish a “small victories” list, and with every micro-accomplishment, note it in the “Ta-da!” column.

Your to do list, which is a collaboration between your soul, your intellect, your inner child and your wise mind, is a recipe for reinventing yourself today.

These qualities could include your negative tendencies that need recalibration—like impatience, self-centeredness, self-doubt or self-loathing, fear or resentment, self-pity or blame. Listening to the “wise mind” in us, once we learn to breathe, settle down and listen, helps us feel connected—even when we’re alone.

One more word of caution—futurizing breeds anxiety. If you catch yourself ruminating on the unknowns of the future, gently bring yourself back to the present moment, to what is good around you and inside of you. The present moment, being here, will always bring you back to safety.

Find Ellen Katz at


Ellen Katz MS LMFT - Chicago IL

Ellen Katz, MS, LMFT - Chicago, IL

Ellen's 30 years of experience as a psychotherapist integrates a conscious approach to healing old patterns through a mix of trauma and mindfulness-based psychotherapies, HMR, Lifeline, T... Read More »