Despite all the challenges that recent events have brought, this moment could be an opportunity for each of us to make a positive decision to invest some time and change the way that we react and behave – to be a better version of ourselves. Maybe now is the time to “Reset, Reflect and Change” – a time to rethink our values, our priorities and our choices.
As the covid-19 pandemic spread, so too did fear and uncertainty. As countries entered lockdown people became worried about their jobs, their finances or for the wellbeing of their loved ones and themselves. The recent period of isolation may have caused many to experience episodes of anxiety or low mood.
Yet as the weeks have gone by the situation may have become more normalised – we feel safe at home and we have become reconciled to the uncertainties that the future may bring. We may have engaged more with our neighbours – or kept-up online chats with family and friends. We have certainly become more aware of the value of our key workers. Yet working at home may have caused people to question their relentless rush to work each day – as our children grow up and our parents grow old. We may wonder if we have the right the work-life balance.
Through all these recent events, and the time to we have had to reflect, many of us may have started to change our outlook – causing us to reassess our values, our priorities and our way of life. Some may wish to invest effort to change the way that we think, react and behave.
Whatever our circumstances we do have time right now. Could we use some of this time to become a better version of ourselves – so that in the future we can live the best life we can?
At this time, many people will feel that their priorities have been changed– so that they may “see life differently” from before. If this is you, then you may find that you are resisting the pressure to return to your “old life”. That’s OK. You have that choice.
This what is called an “adjustment problem”. You may feel that you have been changed… and that you are unsure that you want to return to your old life. Or, some may rush back to their previous normality – to find that this “adjustment problem” causes them to experience anxiety or depression.
We are all changed by our experiences… a little every day, but especially by major events. Your experience of the covid-19 pandemic, and the challenges that it has brought, may well have changed you. How could it not?
Some people may find that they have become more introspective… or see the world as a less certain place: revising their values… beliefs… priorities … or reactions; and perhaps deciding to change their lifestyle and the things they wish to focus on. Some may previously have been decisive … but have now become more empathetic or hesitant; while others may become more assertive or less patient …. or they may even experience a change in their level of self-confidence.
So, you have a choice – it’s not necessarily about returning to your “old life” …but it’s about making a positive decision to choose how you wish to change; and to start feel comfortable with “the person that you have become”.
A mindful approach to change and adjustment.
A “mindful approach” to this situation would be to become more aware of “when you seem to react or behave differently from your old self”… so that you can decide on which reactions are most appropriate for how you feel now. Recording these observations, of different feelings and reactions, will help you understand the way that you have been changed by your experience.
Let’s think about how we react to situations. We may often respond in haste – or become emotional, or, upset, aggressive, defensive – or we may feel insulted or let down. These are all emotional responses – often made without proper reflection upon the situation. For example – we may react without considering the pressures upon, or the anxieties of, those around us who may be reacting emotionally. Do we have enough empathy for the situations faced by others?
What about our listening skills? When we are so caught-up with our own objectives, it’s easy to miss the subtleties of what others are saying to us.
When we are in a group – do we allow others to voice ideas that may be different from our own? Do we consider these ideas or do we ignore them? Are we really open to the opinions of others? Research shows that teams of diverse people often make better and more durable decisions – but to do so such teams have to leverage the expertise and point of views of all of the different team members. To allow everyone to contribute… to be able to say what they think without fear of being punished or ridiculed. This is called psychological safety.
When a crisis occurs at home or at work – we may feel pressure to react – yet it is often wise to pause and really try to understand the implications of what has happened and what may happen as a result of the various options available to us. But this takes self-confidence: to admit that you don’t have all the answers; and that you need to explore, think or even to reach out of advice or opinions.
And again, in a difficult situation, we may become irritable or short with people – and our poor behaviour may have long lasting impacts on our relationships or on the loyalty of our colleagues.
Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy… or MBCT… was developed at the universities of Massachusetts and Oxford; and research shows that MBCT will increase our resilience in a lasting kind of way… and it will allow us to have more authority of over how we react. This is called “emotional regulation”.
MBCT will improve your ability to concentrate and to focus, it will increase your empathy and compassion for others, and boost your ability deal with stress and pressure. You will become more able to deal with “the challenge and uncertainty of change”; and this is empowering and will increase your self-esteem and self-confidence. MBCT will boost your performance at work or in sport, and increase your focus, your engagement and your “flow”. It will enable you to develop the skills to manage in challenging and disruptive business environments and to attain the objectivity, focus and emotional stability that you will require.
MBCT develops our ability to observe the emotions that arise within us – without making impulsive responses. We learn not to judge these emotions– they are neither good or bad – they are just our reactions. We can, if we wish, make a thoughtful response to whatever triggered such emotions. Improving this ability means that we realise that we are no longer controlled by our emotions – and this in turn increases our self-esteem and self-confidence so that we feel more able to deal with the situations that we may find ourselves in… and in fact we really are more able to deal with such situations. And this empowers us – and we reduce negative reactions to day to day events. In this way we become more resilient.
MBCT can also improve our ability to avoid distractions and to commit to improving our health, our relationships and to perusing our own personal development.
You see, at whatever our age, our brains are pretty flexible and can always make new connections – and so we can “change our reactions and unconscious responses” – this is called “Neuro Plasticity”. And even if you “think you can’t change” … you can.
So despite all the challenges that recent events have brought, this could be an opportunity for each of us to make a positive decision to invest some time to change the way that we react and behave – to be a better version of ourselves.
Is this a time when we may feel that we would like to “reset”; to think about the way we wish to live and the way that we behave with others? It could be that this time is an opportunity to invest in ourselves… to change the way that we react and how we interact with others – to improve our emotional intelligence, our “focus in life” and our willpower to be the best that we can be.
Rezl is our smartphone app that delivers a full blown “Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy” course employing tutorials and guided meditations. Rezl runs on Android and iOS phones – why not try if, for about 15 minutes each day, and notice how it helps you to grow?
Take care of yourself