How can we use this Global Pandemic to positively impact our lives? How does this situation help us in life?
Often we come across situations that are far from ideal. We face challenges and hardships all through life. COVID is no different.
If we can learn to accept responsibility for our own thoughts, emotions and actions then we can reframe situations and find the valuable lessons and opportunities they possess.
Hopefully, this post will help view this situation through a different lens and inspire you to use it as a catalyst for positive change.
Why has COVID impacted us all so much?
COVID and lockdown has had a huge impact on us all. Why?
· It’s allowed the government to restrict our freedom
· We’ve been isolated from our friends and family.
· The normal routines that ground us have been ruined
· Our jobs and livelihoods have been affected.
· There has been a lot of misinformation and FEAR spread by social and mainstream media.
· It has made people more judgmental and turn on each other due to the FEAR
· It’s highlighted people’s poor health and lifestyle choices (whether they admit it or not)
· It’s caused increased division
· Many things we have taken for granted have been either taken away or been made difficult to access
· FEAR of the unknown, what’s going to happen? Is it as bad as they say? Is our freedom going to be permanently restricted? How is our economy going to recover? What is the new norm?
Overall it has shown us that we are in control of very little in our life. We cannot control viruses, we cannot control what the government choose to do and we cannot choose whether or not other people follow the guidelines.
The only thing that we can control is what we do with ourselves. How we choose to respond to situations. How we choose to act. What we choose to eat. How we choose to move. What we watch. How we spend our time.
This is all Mindset and we can use this situation as the stressor and as the discomfort to help develop our Mindset and improve our lives.
This is good news. We can change. We can view the world differently. We can step up and take control back!
What do we do?
Well, there is only one solution we can do and that is to step up and take responsibility. Let me explain why.
I am seeing a huge amount of FEAR manifesting as pointing the finger at others, on social media, in public and in speaking to friends and family.
Whether it is people condemning others for seemingly breaking the rules or accosting others for not wearing their masks.
The situation has sent people crazy and we need to get a grip.
So let’s look at 3 steps to understand why it is up to you and your Mindset:
1) Nobody is coming to save you.
2) You are powerless over people, places and things.
3) It may not be your fault but it is your responsibility.
Re-read that. Breathe. Let that sink in.
Get it? Got it? Good!
So how do we make ourselves and our loved ones safer I hear you ask?
Well, we focus on what we can control. We take responsibility and we go inward and look at ourselves.
We each can step up and take our responsibility for our health and anyone dependant on us. We cannot rely on anyone else to be responsible for our health.
Even by following advice and instructions, we are still the ones who make the decisions day to day, hour by hour, minute by minute.
We cannot look to the government to guide us on health. Especially when 5 months after lockdown they have only just announced that we should consider losing weight and becoming fitter to protect ourselves from the virus. (Face Palm!)
This is after making Off-Licences “essential” shops during the lockdown and also giving discounted food on the “eat out to help out” scheme but applying them to takeaways and fast foods such as McDonald’s and KFC. (Double Face Palm!)
The government are either ignorant of true health or are purposely encouraging poor habits in the name of profit and either one is bad news if you rely on them for health advice.
I believe we have missed a huge opportunity to help educate and encourage people to take responsibility for their own health and change their lives for the better.
Sadly instead it seems that there is largely a lot of finger-pointing and blame, with people just complaining that they can’t do their usual things. Largely I’ve seen people bunkering down, drinking and eating crap while they wait to be allowed back out to continue the same path that they are on. All in the hope that they won’t get the virus before a vaccine is developed.
However, the good news is, by reading this post you are showing interest in how you can turn the situation in your favour!
So let’s do this, let’s step up and use this as a catalyst for change and take control of our lives!
Live and let live, you focus on you.
Understanding and accepting that we really are powerless over people, places and things is a huge first step. Once we take this on board then we can begin to stop wasting energy trying to influence what other people are doing and spend that energy influencing our own behaviour.
In engaging in behaviour that is trying to influence others by telling them what they should and shouldn’t be doing is extremely draining and does not benefit anyone.
The best way to influence others is to lead by example. Don’t preach, don’t shout, just act in a way which we feel is best and it may trickle feed onto others.
Any time you find yourself worrying about things or tempted by an argument try and take a step back and breathe. Ask yourself;
Firstly, am I worrying about things within my control? Or am I worrying about all the what if’s associated with what other people, places and things are doing?
Secondly, Does it need to be said? Does it need to be said by me? Does it need to be said right now?
If you honestly and objectively ask yourselves these questions you will find that you are often worrying or being triggered by things that are not within your control . Prompting you to get in a situation that will not benefit you. So do not engage. I repeat. Do not engage!
So step one first and foremost is digesting and understanding that you can only control you. Any effort to try and control another’s actions is a waste of energy. The energy that you could be spending on developing your Mindset.
Using our FEAR to take steps to change our Mindset and taking responsibility for our lives.
When fostering a Growth Mindset we can use any situation to learn and grow. Those who foster this Mindset will see challenges as opportunities and use them to discover valuable lessons that can improve their lives.
Stressors are an important way to develop our Mindset as it makes us uncomfortable. Though discomfort we find these challenges to overcome. This is how we develop our Mindset. We must face these challenges and seize them as opportunities to learn.
Where do we start? We all have inbuilt biases, things we like and dislike we are all flawed human beings but we often either do not see our own flaws or we do our best to hide from them.
They may lurk in the shadows and we may well be unaware of them depending on how much self-work you have done and your levels of emotional intelligence.
This is what therapists are very good at, they shine a torch on all our deep dark secrets, insecurities and biases that we have learnt over the years.
This is why some people don’t like therapy as it’s painful to sometimes confront the ugly aspects of our personalities.It is, however, a fantastic tool to Fast track and highlight the areas where improvements could be made. Of course, the highlighter is just the start.
So without therapy, I have two tools I use and I’m going to teach you.
Using judgment as a tool. AKA It’s not you, it’s me (But it may be both of us!)
If we use our judgment of others as the torch to highlight the areas to begin working on. Often we will project and highlight in others what we either dislike about or just unknowingly do ourselves.
When you point a finger at someone three fingers are pointing back at you. Go on, do it. See? Cool eh?!
Now next time you criticise others or judge others try and observe what traits you are highlighting, maybe right them down. Then contemplate what they say about you.
Try to be objective. Maybe just write the questions that come up for you. Then think and try and answer them honestly.
For example, here’s one that I believe applies to many people regarding COVID:
We may be Judging others for not wearing their mask or breaking lockdown.
What this may say about us?:
· Are we completely adhering to the rules by the book?
· Why are we so bothered about what others are doing?
· Because they are risking spreading the virus!
· The virus is mainly only seriously affecting older people and those with underlying health conditions.
· Are we in either of these categories?
· Do we have relatives in these categories?
· How is our health?
· Do we eat healthily? Exercise? Are we overweight? Do we drink or smoke?
· Do you currently take full responsibility for our health?
· Or are we carrying on with our normal eating and exercise habits waiting for a vaccine or COVID to go away?
· Is our health not in good condition? And are we regretting not taking more responsibility for our own health and that of our families?
If this kind of trail leads back to something we do that is within our control, (which it often does) then that’s fantastic. It’s often painful to admit however it’s such a valuable way of finding out the areas that we can improve our Mindset and take steps to improve our life.
If you read the above and it’s triggered you. Breath, relax and come back to it. It’s painful to accept responsibility and to realise it’s not anyone else’s but our own. It may not be our fault we are in this situation, but it is our responsibility to do something about it.
No amount of excuses and finger-pointing ever gets us out of it. We just hide further from the truth. When it’s our health we are hiding from….that will catch up with us. If it’s not with COVID then it will be diabetes, heart disease, cancer or numerous other chronic illnesses that are self-inflicted due to our lifestyle choices (I’ll go into these areas in a future Lifestyle blog).
Once that torch has been shone on the shadows in our mind we are in a position where we can choose to take action and choose to develop our Mindset and our Lifestyle to improve our lives and that of our children and grandchildren.
This first tool allows us to see we are allowing our bias and insecurities to make us react in a way which is not beneficial. This second tool is a way in which we can analyse and alter how we act, turning reactions to responses.
First, we bring awareness to the situation. Now we begin to make changes. We learn, we grow, we develop our Mindset.
CTFAR self-coaching model
This model, developed by Brooke Castillo, can be used to analyse our behaviour. This can help change how we respond to situations once we become more aware of our role in everything.
Circumstance: So this is what has happened. The facts. What is actually going on?
For Example; There is currently a global Pandemic.
Thoughts: Humans have around 60,000 thoughts per day, many of which aren’t deliberate. Our brain has thinking patterns that it will repeat based on habits and past experience. Your brain often will sift through its filing cabinet of memories, pull out a similar situation and try to apply that past reaction template to the current situation. Even if it doesn’t fit!
So without mindful and intentional thinking, we are likely to repeat and react in the same way that we always have therefore we get similar results.
For Example; There is currently a global Pandemic that is hugely scary because it’s dangerous anyone could carry it, spread it everywhere and I might die. I watched the movie Contagion and saw how many people died.
Feelings: Our thoughts control our feelings. Our feelings can be summed up in a short word however the cause of that feeling is the thought process that we have attached to the circumstance.
Once we learn to control our thoughts then we can control how we feel. This is good news and with analysing how we think and becoming more mindful of these thoughts we are then able to better respond instead of reacting to situations.
For Example; Due to my thoughts I am fearful.
Actions: What actions do you then take based on these feelings? Or Inactions and Reactions.
For example; Overreact and panic. Watch all the news every day. Engage in social media. Condemn people for not following guidelines. Live every day worried about this deadly killer.
Results: How have these feelings and actions impacted you?
For Example; My actions or inactions have resulted in greater negative feelings such as anxiety fear, anger and depression and is putting a strain on my relationships and making me withdraw. The result is my physical health hasn't improved but my Mental health has gotten worse.
Do you see how this flows? I hope the above makes sense.
Let me show you an alternative view once we bring awareness from understanding our own bias and judgements and applying a growth Mindset to the same situation.
· Circumstance: There is currently a global Pandemic.
· Thought: Ok what can I do to protect myself and my family from this Pandemic. I’ll look into best ways to protect our immune system and promote health and follow any current guidance issued. All I can do is my best to protect myself and my family and that’s by controlling what we do with our bodies and what we put in them.
· Feelings: In control.
· Actions: Learn which foods best promote health and include them in our diet. Cut out junk food and alcohol known to impair immune function. Get outdoors to exercise and connect with family and nature. Disengage from negative social media and the news to protect my mental health. Only scanning for the latest guidance.
· Results: I know I am doing what I can in my power to protect my own and my family’s health. Anything else is out of my control. My mental and physical health is protected.