I used to believe that I had to let everything into my body including violent images, unkind words, negativity and hate. I believed that what didn’t kill me made me stronger, except letting those things in didn’t make me stronger, they only made me more anxious, sick and negative myself. It wasn’t until I learned to talk to myself as I would a close friend that I realized I was letting others rule me instead of ruling myself. I learned to protect and honor myself by taking control of the energy I allowed to enter my life. That’s when I started viewing myself and my emotional wellbeing as something precious and worth protecting. To remind myself of the need to protect my mental and emotional states during particularly trying times, I would repeat the phrase “bubble wrap!” This phrase reminded me that I needed to treat myself with kindness and be very forgiving of myself at a time of deep uncertainty.
I’m repeating that phrase to myself again these days as I often feel overwhelmed by fear and concern for our collective safety. Bubble wrapping myself is an act of self preservation and self love. Just like I’m self isolating for the physical health of my family and for others, I’m also mentally and emotionally self isolating so I don’t get overrun by the voices of fear peddlers, speculators or naysayers. For me, the voices and people I let into my bubble are the difference between spending the day curled up in a ball in my bed, and being able to care for myself, my family and my community. Only I decide who gets to be in my bubble. My daughter gets to be in the bubble because she’s the person I love most in this world. My dog gets to be in the bubble because she makes me laugh and always allows me to cuddle with her when I need to, which is often these days. Some of my friends are in the bubble and so are some of my family members, some media and some spiritual leaders. Some, but not all. The bubble enables me to have compassion for myself first, which then enables me to have compassion for others during this time of tumult and uncertainty.
I think there are times when extra bubble wrap is necessary, when a certain amount of denial is healthy and life giving and this is one of those times. This is not to say that I don’t know what’s going on in the world, it’s an acknowledgement that I have limits and that I don’t have to be perfect or ‘on’ all of the time. I’m aware that I’m no good to anyone if my anxiety level is so high that I can’t function. Drastic times call for drastic measures and for me bubble wrapping myself is the highest form of self care. It’s akin to putting your own oxygen mask on first before we can help others as we're instructed to do on every flight in case of emergency. Bubble wrapping is a great reminder that our internal emotional state is precious and needs to be handled with care.
This is a messy time which creates messy humans and we need to grant ourselves permission to be messy. I’m trying to be vulnerable with the people in my life and let them know when I am messy so that it also gives them permission to be messy in my presence. This time, more than ever, feels like a great time to practice self compassion so that we can also extend compassion to others. Bubble wrapping allows us to create the necessary boundaries we need to survive, both mentally and emotionally.