Finding identity, purpose and a sense of agency during COVID-19

Kristin Karaoglu · April 20, 2020 · Short URL:

Brian Kay, Marriage & Family Therapist, speaks with Bambi Francisco Roizen

Bambi Francisco Roizen, Vator Founder and CEO, speaks with Brian Kay, Marriage & Family Therapist and Pastor at Walnut Creek Presbyterian Church.

In this discussion, Bambi and Brian start with parenting challenges particularly for working parents who have found themselves trying to homeschool their kids or provide structure during spring breaks. The more juicy parts of their discussion come about when Brian talks about mens’ lack of agency as they typically find their identities outside the home. Men are then denied the typical avenues that give them that sense of agency, which then turns into shame or worthlessness. Since worthlessness is an unpleasant feeling, they then use anger to cover up those feelings. Anger also jolts up their sense of agency. Anger helps them feel like they’re in charge. 

In discussing how people can gain a sense of agency, Bambi spoke about a family-dinner routine they’ve adopted since the lockdown. Each family member shares what they’re thankful for and one accomplishment. Brian suggested writing down these accomplishments because even noticing that people have reached certain goals is building up a sense of agency. He refers to these as smart goals. Brian also talked about the Ebenezer stones. The word Ebenezer is a Hebrew word that means “stone of help”. In the Old Testament in 1 Samuel 7:12, the stone is placed as a monument to God’s faithfulness on behalf of the Israelites. Today, people set up these stones as visual reminders of God’s faithfulness, Brian said. Some families have an old- fashioned milk jug and a bowl of little pebbles, and every day they name something they’re grateful for as they put the pebble in the jug as a visual reminder of our gratefulness and really hope that God will provide. 

At the end, Brian and Bambi touch on the value of articulating one’s emotional feelings. Bambi’s exercise that she had done as a child and one she’s asked her eldest son to do is to describe his feelings in as many adjectives as he can and do so for the rest of the family. At the least, it would help expand his vocabulary, she said. Brian talked about how being able to articulate one’s feelings with specific vocabulary is healing because it has a way of connecting the frontal cortex and middle part of our brains. The practice of putting words to feelings helps people become more resilient.  

[Editor's note: Future of Behavioral and Mental Health with BetterHelp, Headspace,, Providence Hospitals, UnitedHealthcare Optum, Khosla Ventures, Oak HC/FT and more has become 4 virtual conferences! Register one time for all 4 events! REGISTER. We also have our In-Home Devices/Remote Care event on July 1. You can register for that HERE.] 

Photo by Jeremy Thomas on Unsplash

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Kristin Karaoglu

Woman of many skills: Database System Engineer; SplashX event producer; Author of Startup Teams

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