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The Joy of Missing Out
While my last article was all about lockdown Silver Linings, I also want to acknowledge that the last few months have been charged with angst for many. Unknown work and financial situations, the fragile health of loved ones, and a more acute sense of loss to daily freedoms, while juggling family and work in small spaces. Lockdown has undoubtedly placed a strain on our mental health, relationships, and what our new normal will look like.
What I know for sure, though, is that we are ALL highly adaptable – if we so choose to be. It's not always the strongest that survives; sometimes, it's the most adaptable. Those who can pivot and change their trajectory, in times like these.
One of the best ways I know how to cope with uncertainty is: when you can't imagine the future, momentarily rewind and think about the past. Remember and recognize the hardships you've faced before and how you moved through them.
Acknowledging our resilience helps us to figure out, "What did I do effectively before, that might work for me today?"
Here's another way of flipping our thoughts: while some people are still complaining about FOMO (the Fear of Missing Out), how about flipping that into JOMO – the Joy of Missing Out.
Make a list of all the things you're thrilled that you don't have to do during this time of lockdown. Things like not having to:
- change out of sweatpants
- wash your hair as often
- do the dreaded daily commute
Noting and marking moments of joy create more moments of joy because we're more likely to then notice them. And the more we see them, the more likely we are to savour and share them. Being able to capture a few things that are joyful about getting to stay home at this time (like we've all secretly wished for in the past) can genuinely help.
Working from home (or working out a new future) with or without kids, when you've never done it before can be a battle. Distractions and procrastination are higher than ever. How can we help ourselves with this?
One of the best things we can do is try to find a sense of self-compassion. I love what one of my favourite psychologists, Kristin Neff, says about this:
"Think of the kindness that you would show to a friend who was in a situation like yours. What happens if you apply that same kindness to yourself?"
When you get interrupted by kids, your partner, or the phone, instead of getting frustrated, say to yourself, "Okay, this is a really challenging time right now". And take a moment to go inward and simply breathe.
We need to remember that interruptions are part of what it is to be human. And they're clearly an intensified part of our human condition during this time of lockdown. So be gentle with yourself and talk to yourself with compassion like this:
"I know I'm not the only one facing this. Let me see if I can get through today without ____ (e.g., losing my temper). If I don't succeed today, I'll try again tomorrow".
When we don't beat ourselves up, it becomes so much easier to move forward.
How can we nurture a "growth mindset" at this time? The encouraging news, psychologically speaking, is that over half of us respond to traumatic events differently. And one sure thing is, it IS possible to have post-traumatic growth. Post-traumatic growth comes from a way of thinking, such as "I wish this didn't happen, but, given that it happened, I feel like I'm better in some way."
Examples could include a heightened sense of personal strength, a more profound feeling of gratitude, finding new meaning in things, or investing more in the relationships you have.
I also try to remember this: when we spend a lot of time talking about and justifying how bad things are, we are fighting for our limitations.
Yes, life at the moment can feel hard and scary. But we have power.
You are still so powerful.
By focusing on the good, the silver linings, we shift our minds out of unhelpful states of thinking. We ease our fears and our triggers.
When we make the positive things bigger and more important than what we're going through right now, we melt the associated panic and fear that can be all-consuming.
Remember: You are strong. And capable. And powerful.
You are moving through this.
You are an overcomer. It is your nature and truth.
Love, joy, abundance is inevitably and rightfully yours, even in times like this.
Life was made to be really, really good. And that will never stop being true.
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