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Faith Christine Bergevin MA, RCC

by Faith Christine Bergevin MA, RCC

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I had a little thought experiment during the lean times of the COVID-19 shutdown, when most places were closed and the most exciting thing to do was shop at the grocery store. It was – and in some places – still is a time of great uncertainty as many of us worry about our health, the health of our loved ones, and our ability to earn a living.

I was walking one day past my local coffee shop that was closed and wondering about all the things I missed: social dancing, meeting friends for coffee, going out to dinner. And I wondered when I would get back to doing the things I loved the most. This made me think of values.

Our lives have changed so much in a short amount of time. And my first thought that led me to the Question was this: How do you know what you value in your life?

The Collective Losses

With the world of daily distractions shut down, with no school-work commute, or kids music lessons, or the lure of shopping for clothes and household items and no more hobbies, I was left thinking about what I missed the most now that so many things were taken away. Having lost the busyness of life, I believe we all stood in collective shock as businesses were forced to close, schools shutter their doors, with people now forced to work from home, if indeed they were lucky enough to still be working. This state of affairs made me think of what I value most in my life.

The quiet that resulted for a brief time from the collective loss of all these things once taken for granted has given some space and time to look at what we are truly missing. In fact, as my children learned to cope in this new reality, I began to talk with them about their own personal losses and how they could understand for themselves what was most important to them when these things are no longer available.

The Question:

What did you you most miss when there weren’t many options?

As you think about what you most miss right now or when there weren’t too many options, by knowing this, you can learn about what you most value.

For me, what surprised me at first was that what I most missed were the things I often complained about: the driving schedule of taking my kids to and fro. I missed this because I enjoyed hearing my children’s excitement about their various interests and the stories of the day. Without these drives and activities, I began to see how much my children benefitted from these activities and social connections, whether they were rehearsals for the school musical, early morning band or meet-ups with friends. I realized how much I valued this, as I know these are important for my children’s growth. Of course, this was for me as a parent, as a mother. By missing these things, I learned that I value the mental, emotional and artistic growth of my children.

When I thought about myself personally, I realized what I most missed were dance lessons and meeting up and dancing several times a week. I missed seeing my regular dance friends and connecting on and off the dance floor. I missed the social aspect, the exercise, and the expressive connection I get from dancing. The realization that I miss dance showed me how much I value dance as a personal and social expression of mine.

I realized I also missed simply going to my local coffee shops, either alone or with a friend. I still frequent one of them that has remained open but as I wait outside for my coffee, I often look longingly into the shop and wish I could sit again at one of those tables, pull out my journal, book or laptop, and chat with others. This shows me I value connection with others and treating myself to a nice outing in a new setting.

What strikes me about what I most miss during this “new normal” (still don’t quite know what that means) is the simplicity. Simple pleasures. Supporting my children, connecting with them, expressing myself through dance, and connecting with others. These are not complex extravagant things. These are activities that no amount of “stuff” I buy could ever replicate, and no amount of rushing from one store to the next can fill. These are doable. These are the things I value in my life.

Lately the local café’s seating has reopened, and while limited in number of customers allowed in, I was so happy to discover it that I sat down and chatted with the “now” waiter who served my coffee. Dance classes are starting again, although not in the same format. I remain on a waitlist as many like me seek to reconnect with their favourite hobby. Until I get in, I dance in my kitchen. I find new ways to help my children connect with school and their friends and it remains an ongoing process. But what I’ve learned is that noticing my personal losses during this time when the things I took for granted were taken away has made me recommit to their importance in my life. I see how much I value them because I missed having them in my life.

As you read this. I wonder what you value. Feel free to share in the comments below. What are you most craving to do now? What do you miss? And these things you miss, what do you think this says about what you most value in your life?

And perhaps, one more question, as we learn to adapt, is this: how can you incorporate more of what you value into your life, even if it doesn’t quite look like the way it was before?

 

Disclaimer: The blog on this site is for information only. It is not therapy. This blog is only for informational and educational purposes and should not be considered therapy or any form of treatment. It is meant to be helpful and provide other perspectives. We are not able to respond to specific questions or comments about personal situations, appropriate diagnosis or treatment, or otherwise provide any clinical opinions. If you think you need immediate assistance, call your local emergency number or your local crisis line listed on your government’s mental health services pages.

About the author

Faith Christine Bergevin MA, RCC has a Master of Arts degree in counselling psychology from the University of Victoria. She works with individuals who are struggling with life issues, such as depression, anxiety, and life transitions, as well as those who are looking to find more meaning and purpose in life.

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