Why change can be good and how we can prepare ourselves for it.Mar 08, 2021
As the children in England return to school, it feels like we’re entering a new hopeful phase of this pandemic. For over a year now, we have faced uncertainty and with that, it perhaps felt like the rug had been pulled from under us – we’d lost our anchor and have been drifting. However, with the new roadmap and dates set out, if everything goes according to plan, things can return as near to normal as is possible with all this, in June.
However, some people’s response to this is that change can feel scary and change can feel challenging. But is all change bad?
New beginnings can be exciting, exhilarating, and challenging in a way that stretch you and move you out of your comfort zone. For that’s where the growth takes place – when we feel vulnerable, when we might be hitting the ground running - to pick things up and run with them.
So, what can we do to help ourselves as we readjust and acclimatise as we emerge from Lockdown 3.0 – the one we hope is the final version? It’s a bit like scuba diving – just as divers need to ascend gradually to avoid getting The Bends, so we need to emerge gradually from this Lockdown and ensure we are mentally resilient and ready for a whole new normal. We have been used to a different way of life for so long now, and it’s not like we are going back to how things were pre-pandemic, it’s going to be different yet again – another version of our old life where masks and hand sanitising will still be involved, Zoom too no doubt!
So, here are my steps to entering this brave new world – employing our Mindset VITALS to help us to navigate our thinking though this, to ensure we are mindset ready:
V – Visualise
As we move forward to this new phase, what would you like that to look like for you? Perhaps you want to feel less anxious – you want to feel calm, confident and in control. Maybe you want to feel brave and take on new challenges – you’ve felt stifled and cooped up and now you want to spread your wings. Visualise that version of you. Visualisation is a powerful technique using your imagination to create positive outcomes. Make a mental movie using all five senses of you feeling calm, confident and in control. Use all five senses to ground this visualisation and replay it every night before you go to sleep. The brain can’t tell the difference between a real and vividly imagined event so when you do start going out and about, you’ll already be feeling calm, confident and in control because you’ve imagined it so many times.
I – Intentional
It’s important to remember there is no constant in life but change and so to be adaptable is to be resilient. Be intentional about the nature of your thoughts – that they’re supporting you to be positive and hopeful. If you feel anxious, slow down your busy head and question yourself why you feel like you do. Then think what you can do to reframe your thoughts so that you can feel more confident. This might be talking to someone, maybe exercise helps you, listening to some music or a podcast or maybe journaling. Nothing changes if nothing changes so to change the way you are feeling, change the nature of your thoughts.
T – Take Responsibility
You are entirely up to you. Only you can decide how you work your way through this transition of Lockdown to the brave new world. Take responsibility for your thoughts, feelings and actions and that includes your thoughts about how other people are handling all this. Some people are not going to abide by the guidelines and will leapfrog over the roadmap phases; others might find it challenging to re-enter the real world as it were. Stay in your lane. Do what you need to do to ensure your physical and mental health is optimal to change. The only control we have in all this is the nature of our thoughts – we cannot control the behaviour of others and when we start to concern ourselves that their behaviour doesn’t match up to how we think they should behave, that’s when we get stressed. Personal responsibility means you take control of your thoughts and feelings about you, as well as the way you respond to what’s going on around you.
A – Assumptive Affirmations
We might need some help intercepting a loop whereby we’re worried what the future might look like, anxious about our health and that of our loved ones, concerned about our business or job, nervous to go out and about and immerse ourselves back into society. With positive affirmations, we can reset our brain and end negative thought patterns. Positive affirmations are a deliberately constructed sentence, which, when repeated, realign neural networks and patterns in the brain, creating and sustaining a positive self-belief. Repeat at least twice daily - after cleaning your teeth is a good time. You could try: "I have the resilience and self-belief to keep moving forward," or "I am fully responsible for the creation of my happiness." Repeating positive affirmations will help to bolster your confidence and belief in you, enabling you to keep moving forward and face new challenges.
L – Let go
Let go of what was, whether that’s life before Lockdown or lamenting how you could have been different during Lockdown - wishing you’d been a better homeschooler, a more productive homeworker, a more confident key worker, you’d had a healthier relationship with food and drink during Lockdown and so forth. Many will feel they’ve perhaps been reclusive and disconnected themselves. We all do what we do to get through challenging times. There’s no right and there’s no wrong. Maybe you feel angry, frustrated or disappointed because things have changed so much due to the pandemic, that you missed celebrations, spending time with loved ones, cancelled holidays, your business is no longer viable. It’s so important to process those feelings and let it all go. For some, this may take some time, but over time, to move forwards, it’s vital we can look to the future and only we can decide what that looks like for us and how and when we make that happen. Holding on to the coulda, would, shoulda or bitterness about the past only keeps us in one place – the past. If you process and let go, you can create a new path.
S - Self-talk
Our self-talk is that voice in our head which can either hinder our progress or propel us forward. It can be that inner critic, that incessant chatter we allow to run us down. As we ease out of Lockdown, it’s crucial our self-talk supports us. Be aware of the way you are describing yourself to you and to others, as well as how you are talking about the current situation. If you find you are saying: ‘This is all so scary. I like Lockdown, I feel safe. The thought of now going out and about, things opening up, going back to work etc, fills me with dread. I just don’t see how I can do it. I’m too nervous and anxious to go anywhere and see anyone,’ this attitude feeds anxiety and insecurities. Confirmation bias will mean you will only hear and see things about new variants, pockets of the country with high cases of COVID-19 and hospital admissions. If you have a mindset whereby you feel hopeful and are looking forwards and are saying things such as: ‘This is a transitionary time, and I am doing it slowly but surely. I feel confident about how it’s all moving towards life as we knew it,’ you are adopting a mindset whereby confirmation bias will spot the news stories saying figures are where the government hoped they’d be, that the economy is starting to flourish etc etc.
Ensure you are in control of your thoughts, that they are supporting you to move forward, rather than to stagnate and stand still. It’s one thing to keep yourself safe but resisting going back ‘out there’ will only serve to keep your world small and will not strengthen your resilience to change. With your Mindset VITALS in check, you will be giving yourself a check-up from the neck-up daily.
Emerging from the chrysalis
Our lives will all be shaped slightly differently as a result of this past year but not always for the worse – we will have learnt important lessons; we will have learnt things about ourselves – both our weaknesses and strengths. Maybe we have had time to give thought to a change in career direction, possibly a new business idea enabling us to work from home, as a key worker, maybe we feel pride in how we kept the wheels of the nation moving because of our contribution.
Many will have reassessed their life over these past 12 months or so, perhaps thought about their values – what’s important to them and re-evaluated how they want things to be from now on. As we perhaps crave for things to go back to normal, maybe it’s worth thinking what parts of that normal we actually do want. Maybe it is time for a change – a change that will feel liberating and empowering.
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