Today, many Ukrainians feel as if life froze on that dreadful February 24th… More and more often, we “freeze” and say, “It’s not the right time now,” “Come on after the war”, “After the Victory, then real life will begin.” These thoughts and behavioral characteristics can be explained by a phenomenon called the syndrome of postponed life. What is it, and how can we overcome it? Psychologist Irina Lisovetska from Chernihiv explains.
The Danger of "Come on after the war"
“This question is not uncommon,” says Irina. “While traveling to various regions of our country as a psychologist, providing psychological support and assistance to adults, parents, and children who were under occupation or lived in areas of active military actions, I’ve heard this phrase from adults: ‘When the war ends, I will start living again.’
How does such a person behave? How does their life become? How do they feel? What does this phrase mean? What does the person program themselves for? And what becomes of their children (preschool and school-age)?
Such an individual denies themselves the ability to enjoy life, to engage in activities that used to bring them pleasure, and stops taking care of themselves. They try to exhaust themselves physically, aiming to get to bed in the evening and instantly “turn off.” They seem to freeze themselves. If we recall the fairy tale “The Snow Queen,” emotionally, they become very similar to its characters.
From them, you can hear corresponding reactions to other adults and even their children: “Why are you laughing – we’re at war!”; “And why rejoice?”; “Behave normally!”; “She’s dancing?! Singing?! It’s not the time for that!”
All this leads to emotional exhaustion (constant fatigue, emotional burnout, which intensifies over time), professional burnout (emotional exhaustion; worsened attitude toward others and sometimes toward themselves; depreciation of oneself and one’s experience). From there, it’s not long until depression, and sometimes suicidal thoughts, can emerge.
But we must not forget that parents are role models for their children. Observing how parents behave in stressful situations, children adopt their experiences into their own lives. After some time, children will reflect such behavior. Parents who are already turning to me ask for help with their child because of emotional instability, loneliness, avoidance of communication with parents, unwillingness to learn, attend clubs or sections. “She’s not interested in anything, please make her do something!” – this is what parents ask.
And no matter how hard the psychologist works with the child, when they return home, they encounter the same “role model” again. And the work becomes futile. The psychologist is not the main influence for the child; the main influence remains their parents.
Therefore, it is necessary to change ourselves. It won’t happen quickly. But your steps towards living your life, your children will notice, and you will start feeling better yourself.”
To bring the future, we need to return to the present!
“It’s not in vain that we use the example of using an oxygen mask on airplanes when working with adults,” explains Irina Lisovetska. “And often, when I ask parents who should put on the oxygen mask first in case of danger, themselves or their child, most parents say it should be the child. But in reality, it should be themselves! If something happens to the mother, who will take care of the child and provide assistance? Therefore, children need parents who can take care of themselves so that they have the strength to take care of their children.
During this time, parents need for the sake of preserving their mental health and for the sake of their children: sufficient sleep, proper nutrition, rest, resourceful activities that allow switching from routine, rebooting, and recovering, to start valuing life and every moment of it, to be optimistic regardless of the current circumstances.
Answer these questions for yourself:
What am I grateful to myself for after everything I’ve been through? And list at least seven points.
What can I influence in my life right now? (It could be simple things like preparing a meal, spending time with your child, improving your emotional or physical state…)
What can I do for myself right now to preserve my well-being?
In our lives, there have been, are, and will be difficulties. And if you understand that YOU remain the main factor in your life, then every time you encounter challenging situations, you can remind yourself that you have the power to cope with them and, thanks to this experience, elevate yourself a little higher in your personal development.
Lastly, I want to inform you that there is a center of the charitable foundation “Voices of Children” in Chernihiv, which was created to provide psychological support and assistance to children and their parents. We offer individual consultations, workshops, and masterclasses for children and their parents. All these services are provided free of charge.”
Feel free to call us from Monday to Friday, 10:00 to 17:00, at the following number: 0672006301