Change Is Not Easy
As we enter another fall with the spectre of COVID-19 and fiscal recession looming, if you are like me, you may be realizing that things will probably never be as they were. Many of us have faced changes in our families, our careers, in our schools, where we live, and just how we interact with one another. I don't know about many of you, but I know I will probably never go back to a time when I don't carry a face mask or won't be actively aware of how long I spent washing my hands. Two slots on the circle frame that marks my child's years of school will be forever filled with a photo I took. In these last few years many things have changed.
Change is not easy — it's hard, especially when that change is caused by trauma. When we think about trauma (PDF), oftentimes many of us think of a death or job loss. The images we conjure when we think about trauma are unique to our own perspectives and lived experiences; however, events like wars, terrorism, and pandemics can cause those same responses to trauma to be played out in-masse. We are all learning how to live with one another again. We are learning what is the new normal, what boundaries we need to feel safe, tools we need to learn, and actions we need to practice as we embrace our new normal.
Trauma-Informed, Resilience-Oriented Care
Since we are dealing with a large-scale collective trauma; many institutions, educators, therapists, and places of business are embracing having a Trauma-Informed, Resilience-Oriented Care approach (TIROC). The TIROC acronym is defined by the principles of realizing that many individuals are living with trauma and that we should actively work to not exacerbate that trauma in our interactions. The scholarship on how to deal with trauma outlines that there is a 6-step approach to how we should frame our discussions and interactions:
- Trustworthiness & transparency
- Peer support
- Collaboration & mutuality
- Empowerment & choice
- Cultural, historical, & gender issues
Building Emotional Resilience
Now these are large areas to focus on that we should be mindful of in how we interact with one another. It takes time for organizations to change and shift culture because, like on the individual level, facing change in itself can be traumatizing. However, one of the things we can do is starting building up our emotional resilience which teaches us how to cope.
So for today, let's focus on one thing you can do to improve your emotional resilience and help yourself when you are faced with change that makes you uncomfortable. Taking a breath can help ground ourselves when we are feeling overwhelmed. Take a moment to:
- Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth.
- Inhale slowly and deeply, until your lungs fully inflate.
- Exhale just as slowly, until your lungs empty all the way.
Doing something this simple everyday can not only help you stay grounded in the moment but also over time. It sounds simple, but be honest with yourself. Do you take time to step away when you are feeling overwhelmed by change? Are you giving yourself a chance to think through the issue and control how you are letting your body react to the changes around you? Doing something this small is one way to begin the work of embracing change and building resilience.
Now I will be honest — taking deep breaths doesn't fix a lost job, systemic racism, illness, or the loss of someone we love. Oftentimes, we are unable to even avoid experiencing trauma. However, what we can control is how we feel about what we experience and give ourselves time to process.
TIROC Blog Series
This blog is the first in a series that will focus on being trauma-informed and resilience-oriented as part of the library's efforts to embrace the TIROC principles in our interactions with you and with ourselves.