We're going into week three of our local stay-home order, rent was recently due, and the news is seeming more and more dire every time I open it up.
I don't want to sugarcoat this—we are heading into the hardest part of this global crisis. And it's already been extremely difficult for many.
I'm not sending you this email to plunge you into despair, but to acknowledge what we are dealing with, and to avoid bright-siding this situation.
The term "bright-siding" is one I was recently introduced to by psychotherapist & digital wellness expert Christina Malecka, when we were discussing how to frame a recent virtual workshop. It refers to the "positive thinking" that is so often encouraged in our culture and tends to dismiss or bypass the hardships that people are facing in favor of optimism. It is something that I have often engaged in without even realizing it. And there's a reason for that: it's kind of the American way.
In her book she focuses on the blind optimism that led to the '08 financial crisis, but you could say the same about our country's handling of COVID-19.
Positive thinking is ingrained in our culture. And especially so in the wellness and self-help industry where it can be conflated with manifestation. But what can be insidious about this line of thinking, is if you fail to "manifest" health, finances, or support, the blame lands squarely (and unfairly) on you.
And per the NYT's write-up on the book, "this reliance on one’s personal disposition shifts attention from the larger social, political and economic forces behind poverty, unemployment and poor health care."
In her NYT interview, Barbara makes clear that she is not a "spoilsport," and has a large foot in the joy camp. She also separates hope from optimism, by defining hope as "an emotion, a yearning, the experience of which is not entirely within our control," and optimism as "a cognitive stance, a conscious expectation, which presumably anyone can develop through practice."
There is no bright-side in a situation that has killed thousands and none of this "happened for a reason." There is however, opportunity for awareness, change, upheaval, and most of all, for hope.
It would be healing to hear what you're hopeful about right now. Reply back to this email to share, and if you're interested in being part of an informal book club to read Bright-Sided (thanks to community member Briana for this idea!), then you can add your info here.
Think COVID-19 is the "great equalizer?" Think again in this Twitter thread by investigative reporter Jie Jenny Zou which provides a "list of articles explaining how marginalized groups — such as communities of color, lower-income households, people with disabilities, the incarcerated and people experiencing homelessness — are currently facing exacerbated effects of the pandemic."
Many of us have quickly pivoted to virtual offerings which has created convenience in some ways, but also brought up some unforeseen roadblocks around accessibility and inclusivity. Our Director of Community & Inclusion, Emily Wittenhagen, wrote this blog post with a few ideas on how to practice virtual inclusion in your own work.
Influencers shilling unproven wellness products is always yucky, but especially during a pandemic when people are desperate to protect their health. This article by Wired debunks some of the most popular (and out-there) claims.