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The Gift of the 'New Normal'
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The Gift of the 'New Normal'

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For the past several months, ‘the new normal’ has become a buzzword. Used to describe post-pandemic life, the new normal refers to the way we will live as we exit the shadow of COVID-19. It’s a way to acknowledge the fact that we can never go back to the way things were before—we are all deeply changed from living through this pandemic, and our future choices will reflect this forever.

But for me, ‘the new normal’ refers to more than just continued mask-wearing and cautious social-distancing. The new normal can mean so much more than that. And the new normal doesn’t have to be a negative consequence of the virus. It can actually be the GIFT of the virus. This is aligned with what I know to be true about quantum love and the laws of the universe: Every gift has a shadow, and every shadow has a gift.

The shadow side of our busy pre-Covid social calendars was that many of us were distanced and distracted from our inner selves. We were on that mental treadmill always going, going, going, chasing after our personal and professional goals with relentless focus, often to the detriment of our own health. But the gift of the virus has been that we were all forced to sloowwwww down, cancel our plans indefinitely, and start being more intentional and conscious of the way we live our lives and the way we interact with people.

As a result, many of us have learned that there are some friends and some relationships which are no longer serving our growth. With so much time apart and so much time to reflect, perhaps you have identified some toxic relational patterns which have kept you trapped in friendships that you have outgrown. The virus and its associated quarantine have given us the chance to step back and become aware of these choices, and to allow us time and space to consciously design a different future.

Or maybe we learned that we no longer need the latest designer handbag or brand-new shade of lip gloss. Mask-wearing and working from home, as well as being unable to hit the salon or the gym, has helped many of us to stop focusing on outward appearances and more on what truly fuels our souls. We have spent less time applying makeup and more time gardening, less time rushing to appointments and more time baking bread, less time waiting in traffic and more time having deep conversations with the people we love.

So as everyone in the media is eagerly talking about getting things back to normal, I find myself earnestly hoping that we don’t lose some of this yummy stuff we have gained during this time of isolation. Yes, I am eager to hug my friends and go on hikes without a mask on, but I am also eager to continue living in a world that prioritizes being present, slowing down, and finding unity even in our separation.

And perhaps the pandemic has even deepened your relationships with some of your friends. This was a year in which we realized we desperately need each other and that we all impact everyone around us with the decisions we make, and for many of us, this was a call to build community, to help those in need, and to find unity even when we cannot be together in person.

So while the pandemic has been a painful, scary, and often a lonely time for many of us, it is important to remember that during times of great pain and fear, we always find an invitation. Right now, we are confronted with the breakdown of many social structures, but within that breakdown, is an invitation to rebuild, redesign, realign our choices with our true core desires. We get to design our new normal. We get to curate our lives, pruning the friendships which no longer serve us, nourishing the ones which do, and growing in a more intentional and soul-focused way.

So, what changes happened for you during the pandemic that ended up actually being a gift? Did you like wearing less makeup or spending less mental energy on your appearance? Did you like having long, thoughtful conversations with your friends on Facetime or Zoom? Did you like spending less time behind the wheel and more time in Mother Nature? How can you design your life to pay homage to these beautiful gifts and keep finding time for peace and stillness even as we return back to the workplace?

And what do you want to see less of? Perhaps you have come to the wise conclusion that you won’t argue with friends or acquaintances on social media, opting instead to simply mute them or block them so you miss that content that may offend you. Perhaps you have found space in your heart for more difference of opinion, allowing for the fact that even if your friends disagree with you (sometimes vastly), you still have so much in common and so much love to share with each other. Perhaps you have learned it is time to gently release some old friends who are no longer nourishing to your spirit.

As you consciously design your New Normal, I encourage you to try meditation or journaling as you process this past year. This has been a massive year of upheaval and strain, and even if your health and finances have fared well, we have all endured a collective trauma that needs to be honored, processed, and carefully attended to as we transition into our new chapter. In many cases, a few therapy sessions (or more) can be very useful right now, be they virtual or in-person. Don’t just rush back into the hectic pace of your old life, assuming that everything you went through this past year can simply be forgotten or erased. We have the chance right now to make the pandemic something that served us. Yes, as painful and horrific as the pandemic was, we can find the gift hidden within it—but only IF we bring intention and conscious awareness to where we are at emotionally right now and where we want to go.

So, what do you want your new normal to be? You get to decide.

Let me know in the comments or send your sex, love, and relationship questions to languageoflovepod@gmail.com or send a message to me on Speakpipe. I might just answer your question on air on my podcast the Language of Love.