Self Actualization in a Pandemic: Is Practicing Attunement a Luxury?

Lesley Glenner

 

 

The question of whether practicing attunement is a  luxury — or even a possibility — during a pandemic is a living question. 

It has become something of a kōan for me. You know… 

“What is the sound of one hand clapping?” 

“When you can do nothing, what can you do?”

and… 

“Can you practice attuned parenting during a pandemic?”

Why this question is alive for me now

Over the last six months, I built an attunement-focused parenting program that is completely ready to go. But I haven’t pressed the start button. Something in me says, “Not now. Not yet.” 

I personally have my hands full with client load, adjusting to living in a different environment, and being pregnant, among other responsibilities, including homeschooling a kindergartner

When I consider whether to launch this program, I also wonder, “Is practicing attunement a luxury? Is it some sign of upper echelon self-development work for simpler non-pandemic times?” 

Sometimes I wonder if I’m wisely dragging my feet. 

 

As parents in a pandemic, are we all simply in survival mode? 

Is just getting by–with our sanity intact–enough? 

As I said, it’s currently a living question for me. I don’t have the answer. But I do know this: Adequate attunement is the anti-venom. A healing balm to help us get through difficult times intact. 

When going gets rough, and we’re feeling maxed out, being stretched beyond our abilities, and staring down scarce resources — the familial bonding of attunement goes a long way toward feeling okay amidst the chaos. 

 

What I think about when I think about attunement

When I say attunement, it’s about more than being attuned to the emotional well-being of others. It’s also staying attuned to ourselves. Our ability to “get” our own world and respond appropriately to what’s happening for us

Simultaneously, from that place of self-empathy and self-understanding, we’re able to look at those we love (especially our partner) — and those who count on us to care for them (especially our children) — and respond to their emotional needs appropriately. 

When we’re fully present to ourselves, we show up more fully for others.

 

Putting what we “know” into practice is harder than ever

We’re all losing things — in-person connections, casual conversations with friends, spontaneity, gatherings, group celebrations. Our children are losing these things as well. As parents, we’ve lost quiet reflective time, our standard support networks, and the ability to get a day’s work done during “regular hours.” And we’re experiencing daily disconnections among our loved ones as we strive to meet these new demands of living our lives virtually. 

As much as we want to, we simply can’t flip a switch and make it all okay. It simply is not okay. No amount  will make it okay. 

Empathy, acceptance, and attunement are the basic tools we have right now to cope in a healthy way while fostering relational development in our children.  

Humanity is being called to evolutionary change toward conscious behavior. To attune to one another’s emotional vibrations, to connect, to resonate in a reassuring way. Underneath all of the behaviors listed above, deeply felt emotions are pulsating through our nervous systems. Conscious repair is needed. 

But in our frayed state, how can we meet these challenges? Should we even be expected to attempt learning and development when we’re highly stressed, pulled apart, and often operating at the frayed end of our wits?

  

A personal story

My husband and I are both working full-time from home. Our kindergartner needs someone to sit next to him during “zoom school.” 

By mid week, my husband or I will look to the other and say wide eyed, “This is f*cking impossible.” And we mean it. 

We also know that we’re required to keep soldering on in these impossible conditions. For us, it’s not good enough to “just make it out alive.” 

Still… as a trained psychotherapist, I know it is unreasonable for any of us to expect to truly thrive under these abnormal conditions. 

So I come back to the question of whether attunement is a luxury. I tend to think that it’s essential.

 

 

Lesley’s virtual private therapy practice is centered on conscious parenting.

The greatest dedication in my life is to my child, Jude, who enters kindergarten this year. Additionally, after 8 years in private practice seeing both couples and individuals struggle with wounds from their own parenting and issues around raising their own children, I’ve found that helping clients to parent in a more conscious and securely attached manner absolutely lights me up. Following the thread of what is most alive in my personal and professional lives helped me crystalize the idea to introduce conscious parenting as the focus of my practice. ~ Lesley Glenner

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