This year has been really tough for everyone worldwide. The COVID-19 outbreak is one of the many events that have made 2020 like no other year. The entire year was full of paradigm shifting progress. From the public health crisis, which affected diverse communities, to people’s mental health to small businesses to the protests and political showdown to floods, this year has brought on more changes to basic human life than anyone could imagine. 

Life as we know has changed and in the still changing times ahead, it sometimes feels hard to stay positive or optimistic. The coming year can feel daunting. But even with the unpredictable and unprecedented  changes, we feel hopeful that people will help each other and pull each other out through the crisis. As 2020 closes to an end, we asked our therapists a few questions regarding their opinions about this year  and here is what they had to say:

What did we learn this year?

Tina Fernandez: “This year has been a year of reflection. A journey into deeper awareness. Deeper connection, presence and groundedness, new learning as well as unlearning. Facing ups and downs, losses and gains, letting go and letting in. Playing with questions like have I paused enough? What’s essential for me? Am I listening? What am I noticing?”

Nida Mir: “We learnt to accept the invisible. The uncertain and the unheard. We learnt to accept the silent screams and thoughts in the quiet of the pandemic and the range of emotions that were hidden and left untouched”.

Dr. Mahima Sukhwal: “That we as people are far more capable of adapting to circumstances than we think we are. For example, the way many of us therapists and many of our clients adapted to therapy sessions as well as many other things virtually instead of in-person”.

Sri Devi Mannava: “This year taught us not to take things for granted. 

Pandemic taught us to see how we are part of society and our actions impact larger groups”.

Estelle Franklin: “This year has taught me to believe in myself with all that I have, I’ve also learnt to just be and stay with who I am in the moment and not calculate or anticipate the wrongs that are about to happen. Just sitting with myself and knowing this is who I am, and that it’s okay to be this person”. 

Divya: “That life can be a roller coaster. Experienced a different self which was very overwhelming to accept. As a result experienced changes in relationships that mattered the most. And a little later could get some perspective and feel less overwhelmed. Could carry on with lesser self doubt. So this year taught me that life can swing”.

Srivalli Devulpalli: “This year has revolved a lot around understanding what do communities mean and exposure to ideas of access and what does Solidarity mean. How someone sitting in the other part of the country can mobilize someone in the other part of the nation, and how we are all so interdependent, as if small miracles on their own. This all dawned due to a number of things that happened in the last year but it all feels like communities and people around are all constantly in action and there is always more we can discover and more people we can reach. The need to reach out is something that has dawned taking in account how COVID has restricted certain things and ways of life and access to things for many”.

Madhuri Sampath: “The whole world is impacted by one event, telling us that we are all interconnected and interdependent. We can neither stay isolated from the rest of the world nor say all that matters to me is my own well-being. Our lives are so intertwined that what affects, one affects everyone. We as a community, big and small, need to support and understand that. I have come to value what I have more after the pandemic. Feeling a lot of gratitude for my blessings”. 

How did you stay calm and centered during these difficult times?

Dr. Swetha Turlapati: “The uncertainty of what tomorrow would look like during the pandemic was something that made it most difficult. But this made it  important to see and take the most of the present day. 

These moments of being invested for “what is now” allowed for recollecting it in its fullest form be it the suffering/ joyous”.

Nida: “Knowing that we are not in this alone. Having space to breathe and people to depend on. To have a shared understanding and to rely on each other to get through difficult times”. 

Madhuri: “What helped me stay calm and centered is the awareness that everything is impermanent. “This too shall pass”. While in the moment, I can only hold space for me to experience distress with self compassion and kindness”. 

Estelle: “I’ve tried to just notice how my body responds to thoughts that make me feel inefficient and whenever I’ve gone away from who I really am, I would choose an anchor in my surroundings that would bring me back and remind me of what’s happening ‘now’”.

If there was anytime you found yourself spiralling, how did you or what did you do to ground yourself?

Nida: “Millions of times where I have spiraled. Allowing and accepting what was happening (major learning through constant mentorship from selvan sir) is what helped me be present and not panic. ‘If I am breathing, everything is ok’, is a phrase that I always told myself to come back to the present moment was”. 

Sri devi Mannava: “The pandemic created a difficult environment with panic on illness, lockdown, unemployment, deaths and increasing news of suicides. It was important to spend some time acknowledging the better things in life and being grateful for friends and family”

Estelle: “I’ve spoken to a friend and been the most honest with her about what I was going through and after just hearing her say “it’s okay, I’m transitioning”  brought a lot of peace because that was already something I knew but just needed to hear”. 

Mahiam: “By believing that the pandemic is bound to end some time soon. Believing that this too shall pass”.

What are the important things this year or the pandemic taught us?

Nida: “There is great power in unity. There is freedom in quietness and there is love surrounding all. I think the pandemic brought out a lot of know-how. People came together the most in the most dreadful year, from the beginning, since the CAA till now”. 

Mahima: “I have seen families and friends adapting like pros and finding unique ways of staying connected and supporting each other. Seeing the numerous acts of kindness of some people towards strangers in times of need helped me hold on to the hope for all of us”.

Sri devi Mannava: “I am thankful to talk openly about emotional and mental lows!” 

Estelle: “The Pandemic has taught me to value a lot of things and people. Firstly my relationships, my job-the people I work with, the life I am blessed with and the most important thing, to be able to see our long planned wedding come through during “covid times”, the pandemic brought a lot of anxiety, stress, compassion, fatigue and so much more but it also came as a reminder of how resilient I am and that I have a good support system (which we all bank on mostly) that helped me get through the difficult times and I did! Ending 2020 on a very happy & great note – now happily Married, I’m looking forward to what 2021 brings with life, career and for me”.

Divya: “I felt if one survived the pandemic then one has to be grateful in life.The pandemic taught how important your close relationships are and how lucky you are to have support in life”.

Even though the most popular question of this year has been, ‘when will this pandemic end?’, it has not stopped people from letting their creative side take over. And now we are finally able to see some light at the end of this dark tunnel of pandemic, as the news of a vaccine being produced spreads. But even in the midst of all the tragedies and disasters, there was courage, grace, sacrifice and hope. Many individuals learned to embrace themselves for who they are and as they will recall the year, they will surely feel great pride in themselves for what they have accomplished and how strong they have become.

We at Pause for Perspective commend you all for your bravery, courage and sacrifice, and hope that the coming year is full love and empathy and blessings. We hope that your truth is honored and that you receive all your heart truly longs for!!! 

Here’s to 2021.