The Full Frame Initiative is thrilled to be a part of a new (and growing!) cohort for change. Join us for a live virtual event on June 24, 2020!
FFI believes that ending racism and other forms of oppression in our country depends on a broad and deep recognition that we all share a universal drive to wellbeing, we all have a right to wellbeing, and we all deserve a fair shot at wellbeing. In our June 2020 Newsletter, we look for paths forward built on equity, justice and wellbeing.
As the pandemic hit, a friend asked me, “what has your experience of this time been like?” I felt compelled to respond with something around how bad it has been because that’s what I should feel. This has been a time of suffering for many, particularly for people who already live in crisis all the time. It’s highlighted the gaps that we have in healthcare, leaving the people at the frontlines unprotected from the virus; and it’s highlighted the gaps that we have in race and poverty, leaving primarily black and Latinx populations in positions where there are insufficient protections and there is no option to distance (“Social Distancing is a Privilege”). Not to mention the countless people who are dying, both from the virus and from not being able to get the care they need because everyone is stretched thin. Anxiety is up. People are stressed. The list is endless.
And yet, at the same time, this is not my personal experience (yet). If I’m honest, as I told my friend, I’m holding a lot of cognitive dissonance during this time. Cognitive dissonance is when we hold seemingly contradictory beliefs, which is uncomfortable for us, and we feel a need to resolve the dissonance through various means, including minimizing one side and deciding one way or the other — in this case, whether these COVID-19 guidelines have been a “good” or a “bad” experience.
Here’s the dissonance: while there are times when I wish I could see more people in 3D and there are family and friends I’m worried about, on the whole, I’m experiencing frequent bright moments. As someone who regularly travels for work, I’m delighted to find myself reliably able to make weekly commitments. My routines are more regular. I meditate more. I exercise more. The proliferation of online classes feeds my need to learn new things without adding to my commute time. I’m sleeping more hours. I’m even connecting more regularly with close friends who don’t live near me, discovering new virtual activities we probably could have done pre-COVID-19, but didn’t. I’m a social introvert who habitually overschedules herself, and this new reality has forced me into balance allowing for the rejuvenation I need. There are moments where I dread a return to my pre-COVID-19 life. And yes, of course, this is because I am living with a lot of privilege, have been lucky and have a long list of things to be grateful for.
Both of these things can be true — that this is a terrible time and a wonderful time.
At FFI, we talk a lot about the importance of seeing the full picture, which requires us to hold cognitive dissonance. People are a mix of “good” and “bad.” A behavior may have both “good” and “bad” impacts on us. To increase access to wellbeing for everyone, we have to struggle against only seeking out information that confirms what we want to see (confirmation bias) and deliberately look for information that goes against our impressions. We have to fight against the urge to ignore what might be inconsistent with what we believe or experience to be true.
When we shift our perspectives to see the whole picture, we have a deeper understanding of the tradeoffs we are all weighing and what is driving behavior. It’s dissonance that allows us to recognize the complex and messy ways we are all living our lives and the difficulty that change brings, even change that is broadly deemed “good.” It allows us to have critical multi-dimensional answers to questions like — Why doesn’t that person leave that relationship? Why do they do that, even if they know it hurts them? Why can’t I stop (fill in the blank) ? And, therefore, it allows us to have more effective multi-dimensional steps forward.
People’s access to wellbeing depends on our ability to hold multiple truths. It requires us to work against the way our brains are wired, to lean into the discomfort. It’s a difficult and important place to be. So, I’m practicing doing just that. I’m seeking information that doesn’t fit into my experience and I’m doing what I can to recognize, validate and respond to both realities of this time — and more as I discover them — while diminishing neither of them.
I invite you to practice with me.
COVID-19 has forced all of us to adapt to unexpected, major life changes that have come with many challenges. Chances are, you’ve been analyzing all of these challenges and looking forward to the day when they aren’t there. We know that when we get overly focused on challenges, in our best efforts to address them, we can sometimes accidentally undo the things that are working and not realize it until those beneficial things are gone. Here are some questions to consider as you navigate through change to ensure that you keep those helpful things in place.
Looking for a PDF version of this to share with your networks? Download a copy of Moving Forward With What Has Been Working!
Authors: April G., Niki M., Choy P., Ruben W. with the Full Frame Initiative and Re:Store Justice.
Download your copy of Tips From The Inside today!
COVID-19 has forced many people to self-isolate and quarantine. Even as some states begin slowly to open up, the reality is that we will all be practicing physical distancing and other measures for some time to come. With so many people struggling, we all want to be helpful. Four people with experience coping when you don’t have a lot of control over who you can and can’t see and when you can’t leave a small area have put together tips to help during these stressful times.
What many have experienced in the last several weeks is the tiniest taste of the dehumanizing effect of mass incarceration on individuals, communities and our country. The Tips from [the] Inside authors were four of the over two million human beings behind bars on any given day in the United States. As you can see from their bios, it doesn’t define them. The inconvenience, stress, and disruption of stay-at-home orders is not prison, but the tips — some small things, some profound — apply across settings.
COVID-19 has challenged everyone’s assumptions about how the world works. The authors invite you to re-examine your perceptions about people who are or have been incarcerated. And then get involved.
Life is messy for all of us, and this is particularly true during the COVID-19 crisis. For folks on the front lines like social workers, case managers, advocates and others this may be an especially stressful time trying to figure out how to best support people. A wellbeing orientation can help provide a path forward and highlight important parts of wellbeing — the needs and experiences essential in combination and balance to weather challenges and have health and hope — that may be unintentionally missed while in crisis. This video outlines steps you can take to center on people’s wellbeing and prevent potentially unsustainable tradeoffs that may have long-lasting negative impacts.
Want a copy of this infographic to share via social media? We have you covered: Harm Prevention Using a Wellbeing Orientation
All people are hardwired for wellbeing — the needs and experiences universally required in combination and balance to weather challenges and have health and hope. Our access to wellbeing is particularly crucial during stress and times of change. Young people in the juvenile justice system face unique challenges with the COVID-19 crisis. Quarantines, social distancing and shelter-in-place requirements that restrict family engagement and disrupt routines can add to the stress of youth who are in custody and their families. Using the Five Domains of Wellbeing framework, this resource provides strategies and examples for juvenile justice leaders and staff to support and sustain youth wellbeing during this time of crisis.
Download your copy today! How to Sustain Youth & Family Wellbeing in the Juvenile Justice System During the COVID-19 Crisis
A Wellbeing Orientation is vital for helping people and communities cope with disruption. In our April 2020 Newsletter, we share resources and tools to help people and systems adjust and make sense of this time of uncertainty and stress and discuss why we need wellbeing to be well as a country.
I share in the emotions and questions that most people have during this uncertain time, at least those I am surrounded by. What is this? Where did it really come from? How do we stop it? How do I protect myself, my loved ones? What happens if I get it? How long will this last? So many thoughts and questions.
Having trained numerous people about the principles of a wellbeing orientation and the Five Domains of Wellbeing, I sat down to reflect on my own wellbeing during this crisis.
As a single woman, I was very proactive in gathering the essential items my household would need in the event I am unable to leave home for an undetermined amount of time. I was disturbed, as many others were, to see the mania arise as people began to realize the very real possibilities and outcomes that threatened our lives following the entry of COVID-19 into our American borders. We thought we were safe … we were safe, until a few weeks ago.
Once sheltered in place I began to take stock. I am fortunate to have already been a remote employee so there was nothing required to rearrange my physical space to sustain working from home. I only needed to add in some back-up office supplies and acclimate myself with a few new tech platforms. Or at least one would think. Truth is, this couldn’t have happened at a worse time. But that’s life right? Full of transitions — good or bad. Some we plan. Some we never anticipate, let alone have the opportunity to prepare for.
I don’t think I mentioned: I am also a grandmother. One who, during this time of sheltering in place, went unexpectedly (but willingly) from living alone to full-time occupancy with several little people. They are all under the age of nine. Four of the eight members of my household, myself included, are immunocompromised. That simply means we are at a higher risk of a more unfavorable outcome should we contract the virus. But the added anxiety of “not contracting the virus” is ever looming. We feel completely safe in our house. But outside of these walls are people, young and old, against whom we must protect ourselves. Our necessity to strongly implement social distancing is not optional. And though we are blessed to have been able to obtain the things we need, I am still overwhelmed with all that is happening. Mostly because I am still juggling the many hats of being a single, female head of household.
I continue to process, and think through, and figure out, and plan how to, and make adjustments for, and reach out and respond to, and this is just the beginning. But actually it doesn’t feel like the beginning because this pandemic comes right smack dab in the middle of the already existing continuum of crises I was already trying to handle. So, as I struggle to find my balance and reach deep within for all that my grandmother instilled, I remind myself constantly that this can be done. It has to be done. All is and will be well.
My list of gratitude evolves as I realize I am more fortunate than some because I have access to meaningful and relevant resources that matter to me. Starting with employment. I work for an organization that has appropriately responded to our national crisis, to say the least, and has been extremely supportive as our entire organization succumbs to the global impact of COVID-19. Next, I am fortunate to have stable and adequate housing. Though I sometimes feel crowded as an ex-empty-nester-now-caregiver-of-six, at least we all have a bed to crawl into at night. Finally, I have working utilities and enough food and supplies to get us by. I am sure my granny would be so proud! One thing she for sure taught us as a family of women is how to survive. My moment of mastery.
But when night falls I struggle to sleep. I still can’t help but worry about the many, many individuals who don’t have access. And though I am hopeful that this global crisis will somehow bring down the walls of racism, inequity and greed in our midst, I am forced to watch its ugly head rear from the chaos of fear and uncertainty. In other countries we see unity and a joining together of humanity. We can’t seem to get it together. Or at least our leaders can’t. So once again the responsibility to figure it out is put on the backs of the people. People are without food, needed supplies, babies without formula and diapers. This is America. My America. Our America. And I am heartbroken.
As I find myself completely overwhelmed and unable to fight back tears, I wonder if my granny ever felt like this. Like it was all too much. I wonder if she ever felt scared. I never saw fear or worry in her face. And that’s the beauty of parenting, the amazing grace of grand-parenting: to shield your babies as much as you can from worry and fear.
So I reach a little deeper and there it is: the strength, the resiliency that I will draw from yet again to manage my way through another crisis, or two, or three. The courage that will carry me through to the other side of the storm. I know all will be well because I’ve weathered challenges many times before. While my stability has been disrupted in this crisis, I have connectedness with my family and friends. I am safe in my home. I have meaningful access to relevant resources. And I feel a sense of mastery to see us through.
The women of faith in my community often speak about “going through” when we are faced with different trials and tribulations as an individual or family. On our way through this, we will laugh and we will love and we will eat. Even if it is syrup sandwiches, hunny we will eat! Because that’s what grandmothers do. We show our children — and our children’s children — the way to the other side of through.