Life’s Disruptions Can Be Opportunities to Shift Our Gaze to What Matters Most
A straight and certain path for our lives is a myth, Dr. Nahal Delpassand writes in her new series, RESPIRE
By Dr. Nahal Delpassand
Portraits by Taylor Prinsen
Dr. Nahal Delpassand, a licensed psychologist working in central Austin, has recently expanded her clinical practice to include RESPIRE CONSULTING, PLLC. Aimed at focusing on corporate consulting, writing and speaking engagements, this new endeavor has been a long-time passion project. Born from the changes – both personal and professional – that Dr. Delpassand has experienced, the new pursuit solidifies the importance of extending and diversifying her reach beyond the office in hopes of translating useful psychological concepts to various realms of life. In this piece, she introduces the concepts of RESPIRE.
For the first time in present history, we are experiencing a collective upheaval.
We are seven months into the pandemic, and there is one word that defines our shared experience: change. Historically, it has been seductive to believe that our lives should follow a linear course. The impact of the pandemic has been anything but linear, collapsing our confidence in a straight and certain path for our lives. In its wake is discomfort in the present and anxiety about the future.
In his latest book, Life is in the Transitions, Bruce Feiler discusses the demise of the linear life and the importance of acknowledging life transitions as opportunities for shaping and reshaping our life course, thus challenging us to, “stare down the barrel of change,” and reflect on the meaning of our existence. He refers to explosive transitions that seem to collapse and constrict the footprint of our lives as “life quakes.” These are disruptions, intense transitions that put us on our heels but, ultimately, help to shift our gaze to what matters most.
Feiler describes the ABCs of meaning, an umbrella of three core values: Agency, Belongingness and Cause. He asserts that the aftershocks indicative of a life quake result in a reappraisal of the way we view and engage with personal initiative (agency), connectedness in relationships and community (belonging) and responsibility to discover endeavors that uncover our authentic “calling” (cause).
For many of us, the pandemic has caused an uprooting and reorganization of these tenants of meaning. Grieving the loss of both what was and what was supposed to become, we now need to ask ourselves, “Who will I be now? How have my values shifted? What kind of an impact do I want to have?”
Collectively, we are now called to loosen our grip and move forward. It is normal to be fearful of what is uncharted, but we must not allow ourselves to be consumed by fear. We need to embrace our fear and use it as a catapulting force to pivot towards ingenuity. Acknowledging that the little exchanges that used to make our lives comfortable and predictable are now, forever, reconfigured. Keys, wallet and mask are now the essential items that we cannot live without.
We need to RESPIRE, to breathe life into our new reality. We need to recover hope, courage and strength during this time of difficulty. Before we write this year off, like so many of us have considered, let’s take a moment to find the hidden opportunities for increased conscientiousness, resilience and gratitude. Let’s not forget, continuous effort is critical to mastering change.
I am excited to launch this new quarterly series, RESPIRE, in partnership with Tribeza and AustinWoman magazines. I will be showcasing a different book and author with each article. My aim is that the RESPIRE series will create opportunities for reflection, insight and shifted perspective – and most importantly highlight that we are all walking through this evolving path together.