As we shelter at home it’s easy to watch our emotions swing from coping to frustrated, overwhelmed to managing “ok”, gratitude to fear and vulnerable to empathetic. This wide range of emotions is human. We all need to work through the entire spectrum during such stressful times. The question is how do we work through the emotions: our best selves or our darker selves? Grasshoppers or locusts?
Working through a range of emotions with our best self forward is not always easy. Looking to other species and their response to stress can be helpful.
There is interesting research about grasshoppers and locusts and their response to stress. Grasshoppers are rather shy, peaceful, solo creatures. They quietly munch on grasses and hide (social distance) when other grasshoppers come near. However, during a drought when a grasshopper is stressed they begin rubbing their back legs together and this triggers a transformation from a peaceful, quiet grasshopper to a locust. This takes time but there is a transformation from best self to darker self. From a grasshopper, emerges the devouring devastating locust that ravages the landscape.
Perhaps you’ve noticed yourself transform from a grasshopper to a locust at one point during this pandemic.
During stressful times it’s easy to get triggered by external forces that are beyond our control. When we transform from our greatest self (the grasshopper) to our darker side (the locust), we feel even more strained.
It’s helpful to catch ourselves when we are transforming from our best selves to our “locust” selves. Here are two examples with tips for staying as your greatest self during these times.
Adaptability: Let’s say when you are at your best you are incredibly adaptable. You love shifting gears and get drained by working on the same thing all day. This is your strength. Under extreme stress though you may find yourself drifting from one thing to the other, not completing any tasks and watching your productivity decline and frustration climb. Add in everyone at home all day and it’s a recipe for locust to emerge! To manage your adaptability look at the things you need to do and pick the one thing that usually energizes you, is intuitive, and time flies when you are completing that task. Focus your energy on just that one task. If you need to, set a timer and say “for the next 30 minutes I’m going to do something I love to do, am good at, and want to do.” This will help you be your best self.
Control and Assertiveness: This is a particularly challenging time if you are a person who does his/her best work when you are use to being in positions of control. If your success has come from being someone who knows how to handle power, be assertive and take control, then not being able to take charge can be uncomfortable. When control becomes a locust you need to watch that the humility of your strength does not turn to hubris. In the dark side of control, you could become overly commanding, righteous, and not listen to others. If you find yourself moving towards this place, notice what is happening with your body and how others are reacting to you. Is your voice getting louder and more assertive? Are you muscles tensing? This is your moment to take a big pause. Ask yourself…What is the most important thing that needs to happen right now? Use your control to answer your question and focus your energy on where you can take control and make improvements for yourself and others. Push the hubris aside and gain control through humility. Remember, we all need you to use this strength of confidence and strong leadership in a way to help us get through these challenging days together.
Now, think about your strengths. Ask yourself:
- When I am at my best self, how do I use my talents?
- What triggers my best self to turn to the darker, the locust side?
- What helps me to redirect towards my best self, the grasshopper?
Together we can get through this, particularly if we lean into our best selves as much as possible.
For more information on Locusts and Grasshoppers…
Video from KarmaTube