Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them; that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.
– Lao Tzu
I recently came home from a doctor visit with a new daily medication. I was feeling completely shell shocked by the fact that I now needed a daily medication, and do you know what my husband did? He laughed! In his defense, he’s had his share of medical stuff too, and his response was more about us growing old together, evidently right here and now. Which seems too early with us both in our 40ies, but as he so eloquently put it, “it’s starting!” UGH! Evidently, this is my new normal!
I often get asked about “new normals” during my therapy sessions with clients. This can be regarding depression and if they are forever going to feel the way they are feeling. This is often grief related with people wondering if they will ever feel joy and happiness again. This can be anxiety related with people wondering if they will ever be able to enter a new situation and not feel terrified.
But often, what people really want to know is when they will feel like themselves again. When will those pieces of themselves that they feel like they’ve lost return in their lives.
The thing about new normals is that while some of them can be changed, others cannot be changed.
If someone is suffering from anxiety or depression (or another mental health issue), the hope is that by working through these areas in therapy with a trained therapist, and possibly with the aid of medication through their doctor if warranted, they should start feeling better soon. Therefore, the original “new normal” that’s often the motivator to seek therapy in the first place, was possibly more situational and should therefore change over time, hopefully for the better.
If the new normal is something that won’t change such as a new medical diagnosis , the loss of a loved one, etc., then this isn’t something situational; it’s long-term. In this case, in order to change the new normal and all the feelings that come with it such as shock, anger, sadness, etc., there first needs to be time and space to grieve this loss, by working through and acknowledging the pain that come with these major life changes. There’s usually a lot of resistance and denial here too. But, the hope is that with lots of empathy and understanding, you come to a place of acceptance, and this acceptance becomes your new normal.
I can’t say I’m personally at a place of acceptance with growing older and the aches and pains (and daily medication) that seem to come with it, but I’m certainly trying to get there, slowly, one day at a time!