Practicing Perseverance

It is true that COVID-19 has altered our normal daily routines in ways that we could have never imagined. Our everyday lives upended, our plans and some of our major life milestones cancelled or changed, our ability to leave home, to enjoy festivities, to eat at restaurants, to play outdoors with our friends and co-workers, and our overall ability to socialize in person is no longer a socially acceptable practice (at the moment). 

It is not surprising then that people are experiencing a flurry of emotions including fear, anger, loneliness, frustration, and even some rebellion.  And with those emotions are often thoughts and questions about what is really going on? How long is this Shelter-in-Place Order going to last? How long will we be fighting this virus? How do I continue to do my job, as this outbreak grows? How can I stay safe while working and trying to protect my family from possible exposure? If I am not sick, then what will it hurt if I show up for that family reunion or go out to the beach? When can I get back to my “normal” life or go out to dinner with my friends?

It is not uncommon to have these kinds of emotions or thoughts, but they can often leave us feeling drained and out of control of our own lives. The very magnitude of change brought on by this outbreak is HUGE and it has been extremely difficult for many of us.

Additionally, as members of the correctional community, we are often held to a higher standard of social responsibility. Despite our individual roles within the correctional community, our families, our communities, and our peers are looking to us to maintain some type of balance and to handle this uncertainty with a sense of confidence. This is not an easy task on a normal day, so then how do we continue to maintain balance, regain control of spiraling thoughts and emotions, and continue to serve our communities when we don’t know what is going to happen.

Tenacity, Grit, and Perseverance

Each of us comes into the field of corrections (no matter what our job title is) with sincere determination, strength of character, courage, resolve, and the willingness to continue doing something despite it being difficult. We are constantly learning, adapting, and growing in our professional roles and we can apply these same concepts to managing our thoughts and feelings around this pandemic. So we must “DIG deep – get deliberate, inspired, and going” (Brené Brown). This is how we keep going, this is how we move past the uncertainty of not knowing what the future holds for us or when this pandemic will end, this is how we regain and maintain control over our own lives, we preserve and continue to face each challenge and setback head on one step at a time, together.

Five Tips to Practice Perseverance

1. Self-Compassion

We all make mistakes and we all experience failures. Instead of dwelling on the mistake or becoming angry with yourself, allow yourself permission to not be perfect. Instead, look at these failures or mistakes as an opportunity to adjust your approach, to try again differently, and to practice kindness and self- encouragement so that you can better adapt, learn, and grow.

2. Being Intentional

Take this opportunity to examine your goals/purpose. What is your WHY?

Be specific in defining your purpose for both personal and professional goals.  Are you taking steps to help you reach those goals? What is holding you back? How will you approach challenges and setbacks? Why is it important for you to achieve these goals?

Be clear, be specific, be realistic, make adjustments when needed, write it down and review it regularly. Having a firm grip on our WHYs in life strengthens our determination and can help us push past difficult moments.

3. Gratitude

Practice being thankful. Spend 5-10 minutes every day reflecting on the good aspects of your life. Find ways to express what makes you happy, what makes you feel connected, what makes you feel loved. Considering sharing your positive thoughts and appreciation for people, for kind words and for actions throughout your day.

4. Patience

Practicing patience allows us to experience the journey before we get to the destination.  Patience can be described as the art of remaining calm without becoming angry, anxious, or worried when faced with obstacles, challenges, and setbacks. One way to practice this is to focus on slowing down and deepening your breathing when you become angry, upset, sad, or anxious.

5. Teamwork

Practicing teamwork by supporting and encouraging each other during difficult times makes teams stronger and brings them closer together. When we work as a team, our goals and our determination are strengthened. We are in this together and we all need each other to get through it.

“DIG deep–get deliberate, inspired, and going.” – Brené Brown