Coping During Chaos

"Agency is the sense of being a cause rather than an effect.... With agency, you are active rather than passive, raking initiative and directing your life rather than being swept along. Agency is central to grit, since without it a person can't mobilize other internal resources for coping. If you've been knocked down by life, agency is the first thing you draw on to get up off the floor." ~ Rick Hanson, Resilient: Find Your Inner Strength


Well, it's been an interesting month. Remember when none of us had heard of "coronavirus" or spoken the words "social distancing"?


During times of chaos, fear, and uncertainty, we all have to find ways of coping. And no matter how good our coping skills, we will still have bad days or weeks or moments.


That's when resiliency becomes vital. Resiliency makes us flexible, adaptable, and tough. And we have to refill our resiliency well when we are required to dip into it long-term like, say, 8 weeks of extreme social distancing.


So, how do we refill the well?


Rick Hanson's quote above is helpful to me. Using my sense of agency, doing something rather than nothing, mobilizing positive energy rather than self-pity...all of those things help me refill my resiliency well.


This past week, I began to feel very sorry for myself. It's an easy trap to fall into, especially when things are scary and uncertain. Perhaps many of you have felt that way this week, too. I reached out to people who care for me, people who are going through similar uncertainties, and people who I know are tough-minded and realistic. They helped me a lot! I also showed myself some compassion, as I would if talking with a friend, and acknowledged my fears, doubts, irrational thoughts, and sleepless nights with a gentle nod of understanding. "It's okay," I told myself, "to feel all of these things. But they are feelings. They're not permanent. Get up and do something!"


I cleaned my teaching studio. I tackled some projects that are aLWaYs on the back burner [cough, blog post]. I taught online lessons. I took extra-long walks with my dog. I played my horn really loudly in anger and then beautifully for comfort. I baked bread. Heck, we even changed the batteries in our smoke detectors!


None of these things solve the problems that are arising due to our current situation. And I want to be careful that I'm not staying busy to avoid my feelings. But I think we can find balance between avoidance and despair. And I definitely, definitely think it includes music.


And since we **literally** have nowhere to go and nothing to do, GO PLAY YOUR HORN!

I think I will, too. Grit and horn playing most certainly go together.


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Melissa Morey - Horn Teacher & Performer

photo credit: Jenna Mahr 2015

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