Why it’s good to find the gift in every situation

Rip it up and start again

Weddings, milestone Birthday celebrations, children’s Birthday parties, introducing your precious newborn, holidays, retirement plans, Proms, GCSE and A Level exams, SATs, Year 6 leaver celebrations, business plans, house moves and all manner of things have either taken place in a diluted form of what was intended, or not taken place at all this year – shelved for another day, a date as yet unknown.

There are great expectations for events such as these, much planning and excitement (maybe not in the case of the exams, but certainly when they’ve finished!), so it’s understandable that when they don’t take place, there is disappointment and frustration.

However, it is crucial to know that the situation inherently cannot cause you to feel these emotions. If it could, we would all feel exactly the same, to the same degree about everything. But we don’t. Some people shrug it off and know it’s down to circumstances beyond their control. Some will be angry because they are so disappointed and somehow blame somebody for the situation, and some will feel wretched and out of control and be in tears. Nothing and no one can make us feel anything, So, who causes these feelings of frustration, anger, disappointment and anxiety we might be experiencing as a result of everything changing due to COVID-19? Well, you do.

Let me get this out there straight away – you have every right to have those emotions because all emotions are valid and those events, situations and people affected by this situation mean something to you and that’s why you feel the way you do. However, know that it is because you place value in people, holidays, your business, experiences, celebrations and so forth and that’s why you feel the way you do but in itself, the Coronavirus cannot cause any kind of reaction. It’s all your own doing and so it’s recognising that and knowing you can do something about those thoughts and feelings, if you have the desire to…

Bye bye Birthday blues

We cannot rewind the clock and as yet, we do not have a Tardis or time machine which can transport us back to the start of 2020, somehow erase the virus and start this decade all over again. What we can do is manage the way we think about the here and now, and also manage our thinking about what could have been, because it helps no one to hark back and say ‘if only’. It doesn’t change a thing. We deal with the now and how we can find ways to be resourceful.

One of my sisters had a milestone Birthday during Lockdown and had great plans for celebrations. But this situation put the kibosh on those… Not wishing to blow my own trumpet here, and it’s an idea I nicked off a friend, but feeling sad one of my sisters was going to be celebrating such an important Birthday without the fanfare we all hoped, I contacted family and friends to record a short Birthday video message which I then edited together. The messages were fab in their variety and content and it led to much hilarity when we had a family Zoom call and I played the video in its entirety. My sister was thrilled skinny and said it was the best Birthday present and she’d keep it forever. It’s about being solution-orientated and working with what you’ve got to get the best results you can.

When we’re in the doldrums, it’s hard to see the wood for the trees and it can be challenging to snap ourselves out of it. My point is though, once you’ve had a chance to process those emotions, it’s important to reframe your thinking to thoughts which will serve you better.

Life isn’t a bowl of cherries, or unicorns nor rainbows and we are thrown curve balls which can floor us but over time, we do have the ability to recalibrate and to choose the direction we want to take.

Smelling the roses

I’ve seen many people say on social media that it feels like pause button has been hit on their life. Has it though? Life has carried on, just in a different form, from how we expected it to be at the start of 2020.

Now I think you know I’m not about slapping a smile on and telling yourself to be positive when you’re feeling down and out – that just isn’t my bag and it isn’t realistic. Authenticity – that’s me. Feel the feels and when you’re having a not-so-great day, live it, work through it and come out the other side. As I’ve said many a time, it’s OK not to be OK but it’s not OK to stay that way. However, there have been positives for many people in this situation and I think it’s so important that we think about the good things we might have going for us.

Maybe you’ve enjoyed the simplicity of this new normal, having always been a stress-head, always rushing around. You’ve chilled out whilst being furloughed and box-setted the heck out of several seasons of your favourite shows, loved scrolling through social media and have enough pizza boxes to rival the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Maybe you’ve gone through your contacts A to Z and got in touch with everyone, at least twice – probably scaring some that you’d called them to say someone had died because you hadn’t been in touch since forever. However, you’ve rebuilt relationships, maintained others and for some you spoke to, remembered why you hadn’t phoned them for so long… Perhaps you have the tidiest garden in the street. Maybe when your first guests come round, they’ll mistakenly think they’ve come to the wrong house as it looks completely different due to every single room being redecorated.

Maybe you’re a budding entrepreneur and these strange times have been the catalyst for a lightbulb moment and your Lockdown-inspired business is taking off. Perhaps your community has benefitted from all that you have done to keep the vulnerable safe and everyone in good spirits, so many unsung deeds that many believe warrant an MBE nomination. Maybe you’ve worked from home, juggling home-schooling, and although there’s been plenty of tricky moments as a family because you’ve been together 24-7 and found each other hugely irritating at times, you’ve managed to keep that unit together with stronger bonds formed. If you’re one of the nation’s key workers, look back and feel oh-so proud of what you did to keep this country going and to keep people safe.

I believe there are so many positives to take from this situation and it is crucial that when we look back on the past year, as we often do on New Year’s Eve, we remember the good stuff, not just the stuff that was put on hold. The good stuff is what got us through, kept us busy and occupied.

And we are not out of the woods yet because every day it is evolving, and I think it’s the uncertainty which so many find troubling. That is why our mindset continues to be key.

Hello from the other side

A friend of mine lives in New Zealand and as you probably know, they are now out of Lockdown. She said it’s joyous to see family and friends and to give them a big hug, to go out in the car for a day trip and everywhere is open – the cafes, and loos too!

You see, we will get through this too, it will happen. I know right now it might feel like we’re still in Groundhog Day but keep on keeping on. Keep your mindset in check and start thinking about the ‘other side’ because I think it is gradually coming into focus. So, the next step it to start figuring out what that might look like for you and how you’ll manage your mindset about it…

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