Well, we are all experiencing a very different world at the moment. Everyone will be coming to terms with their new reality and adapting to routines, rules, and advice which seems to be changing day by day. As with all things, some will feel better equipped to deal with this volatility than others so for anyone who is experiencing a few wobbles, here are five and a half steps to
keeping your s**t together greater personal resilience, groundedness, and stability through times of uncertainty
1) Allow yourself to experience strong emotions.
None of us are robots, devoid of emotion. We are all blessed daily with a never-ending chain of emotions and at times of uncertainty, they become amplified, distorted and unhelpful. The first thing to avoid is bottling them up – that’s just going to build up pressure which will catch you out further down the line. You may think keeping a stiff upper lip and ‘pretending’ you’re fine is helping others (and well it might be) but find a safe with friends, family or alone space to be honest with yourself.
Now I’ve carefully underlined EXPERIENCE on this point. Experiencing strong emotions is human and healthy. We create problems for ourselves when we use those emotions to label ourselves and others. The most resilient people allow themselves to experience the whole gamut of emotions. What they don’t do is allow the emotion to become them. Rather like an observer, I notice that they fully experience anger, disappointment, happiness, and curiosity, what they don’t do is associate the experience with their identity. I hear them say “I feel angry about that” rather than “I am angry”
This tiny shift in language and mindset looks almost insignificant as I write, but believe me the transformation is life-changing.
2) Step up and Face Reality
No it’s not fair, but if you want to debate the fairness of life then take it up with Hans Christian Anderson or Walt Disney. I refer you to step one to relieve yourself of the emotions associated with not getting things your way, and when you’re ready, let’s step up to the reality of what’s happening to you.
So, what is reality, and what is your perception of reality?
You may feel frustrated or anxious at the metres of empty shelves in supermarkets where you once found your favourite toilet rolls, but does that mean there are no toilet rolls anywhere? No, they’re just not here at this moment. Yes, your gym may well be closed but does that really mean your fitness regime is over?
To help them face reality and remain grounded, the most resilient people seek out facts rather than opinions, expertise over opinion and focus on the widest collective view rather than polarised perceptions.
Having practiced step one, and gathered the facts, evidence, and guidance of the most expert and knowledgeable people, it’s time to decide what you can impact/influence and what you can’t. Let go of the ‘Gravity Issues’ (Those you have no influence over) and put your energy into things you have the greatest influence over…you!
3) Step back! Slow Down and be Objective
I love the film The Shawshank Redemption and always recall the words of Brooks when he was experienced life beyond the prison “The world went and got itself in a big damn hurry.”
Well recent events certainly aren’t slowing things down any…
The most consistent piece of advice I give to my clients is “Slow Down”, few if any good decisions are made in the heat of battle or impulsively; and yet time and time again we witness intelligent people behaving completely irrationally, selfishly and emotionally.
Close your eyes, take a deep breath, count to three (or five, or ten), slow down and look more objectively at your situation. Just because everyone else is ‘reacting’ doesn’t mean you have to follow the flock.
As you take a slower look at what is going on around you, ask yourself
“What else might this mean?”
“How am I contributing to this situation?”
“What is the best, most useful, productive, helpful thing I can do right now?”
And then do it.
4) Step off. Disconnect
We are blessed with a wealth of information and ways to access it. Public and social media are bombarding us with updates, information, news, and opinion. This constant barrage, whilst mostly well-meaning is reaching a point where our simple brains run out of bandwidth to process and cope with it. Like stressed employees who cannot switch off from work; who are accessing email 24/7, we are at risk of becoming helpless or paralysed or worse still mentally exhausted.
Create space for yourself by disconnecting.
You cannot control what or how much is being said but you can control what you allow yourself to access. Disconnecting means switching off your television, laptop, tablet or phone, putting down the newspaper and in some extreme cases, walking away from conversations or people who are impacting you negatively.
Having disconnected from the information overload, plug-in and connect to inputs which have a more calming and beneficial impact on you. Get in touch with friends and neighbours and talk about matters other than Covid-19, reconnect with nature – go for a walk (at an appropriate distance), read a novel, study something you’ve never found the time to, take up a hobby…Get some rest.
Disconnecting does not mean becoming a hermit and isolating yourself from the world, but it does mean taking responsibility for your own wellbeing taking control of your mental bandwidth.
5) Find your ‘Why’
This one is adapted (stolen) from Simon Sinek, who in his book Start With Why, advocates the key to motivating ourselves and others starts with a noble purpose…a Why.
Look to yourself, and if you’re honest, very few of us would say our raison d’être was to create more money for an organisation. This unique time in history is providing us with a massive opportunity to reconnect with what’s really important.
Yes, making money to pay the bills is important, but it’s definitely not why you exist. Let’s be honest, there will be other jobs and hundreds of other ways to generate income. There will be other sales you can take advantage of and many more new sports seasons/events, but what about the things that cannot be replaced?
Our real ‘Why’s’ are the people we share our lives beyond the workplace with; family, loved ones, friends. Maybe this hiatus is a perfect opportunity to focus on them for a change?
5.5) Be a little bit selfish
We are never more effective as a species than in times of crisis, and yes, we are in a global crisis. Now is most definitely time to reach out and help others in whatever way you can.
Remember this too, you are part of that mix. Your ability to be of help and service to others is reliant on you being on-your-game too.
Look after yourself too!
Make time to do things that bring you happiness and wellbeing. Indulge in hobbies with gusto. Learn something new. You’ll be more resilient for being a little selfish!
Written by Steve Marriott, Personal Coach, Behavioural Expert, and ex2 Academy Faculty Member