Close your eyes for just a second and let yourself imagine it’s December 31st, 2019.
You count down, “5! 4! 3! 2! 1! HAPPY NEW YEAR!” and hug and kiss loved ones, excited for the new year and all the possibilities it could bring. Remember that?
Well, things didn’t go quite according to plan.
It feels like we’re living a bad dream, waiting for someone to wake us up and snap us out of it. 2020 clearly had its own agenda and we are just meant to go with the flow.
The truth is, 2020 seriously sucks.
Everything we’ve known to be true about our lives has drastically changed because of this pandemic; how to stay safe, who to trust, where we can go... We feel more afraid, out of control, hopeless, depressed, and more anxious than ever. Just when we start to think there’s an end in sight, BAM! our stay at home gets extended and we spiral into a negative cycle of emotions again.
ENOUGH ALREADY! We are all sick of it and ready for it to change.
The problem is, what we want doesn’t really matter. We are ready for life to go back to normal, but that’s not how it works. If it’s not safe, it doesn’t matter if we’re ready. So how do we respond? We get lost in a cycle of thinking about how life could have been, or should have been, or what was supposed to happen.
But that leaves us feeling frustrated, irritated, and quite frankly, pissed off. We can’t do anything about it, can we?
WHAT CAN WE DO
We have a lot more power than we think, but it’s not the power we want. We don’t have the power to make it safe and force the world to return to normal. We don’t have the power to eliminate all the devastation and loss that has accompanied COVID. We don’t have the power to change the world the way we want it - but then again we never have, so why are we fighting it?
Why are we spending time and energy focusing on how frustrating 2020 has been, knowing we can’t change it? How does that help?
What we DO have control of is ourselves. We have control of how we choose to respond to 2020.
What you pay attention to matters. So when you get trapped focusing on 2020 and COVID and all the crap that accompanies it, how do you feel? Probably bad. When you start thinking about it, you feel worse because you feel powerless to change anything.
When you focus on something that sucks, it starts to suck even more than it originally did. You’re just feeding the frustration, making it greater each time.
Listen, I don’t blame you. 2020 has tested all of us, but the harsh truth is, we don’t know when it will end. We keep holding onto specific dates (Easter? By June? When school starts?), but the fact is, the people in charge can’t accurately predict when this will be over. So we spend our time holding onto whatever date they give us next, and when things don’t change we break down. All our hopes are squashed and we get angrier and more frustrated. Right?
CHANGE YOUR MINDSET
So we’ve established 2020 sucks and we can’t predict or control when things will go back to normal. But that doesn’t mean we don’t have options. We can either choose to stay in the same cycle of fear, anger, anxiety, and frustration, OR we can choose to change.
Choose to accept what this year has been instead of waiting for it to end.
Choose to not be surprised when the work from home order is extended (because that’s the new norm).
Choose to NOT focus on how frustrating things are, and instead focus on how much time you’ve gotten with your family.
I’m not telling you not to recognize the unpleasant, uncomfortable feelings, I’m suggesting you shift your focus. Acknowledge the negative feelings, accept you can’t do anything about the situation, and CHOOSE how you can use your time and energy to feel better.
THE INSANITY OF IT ALL
Dictionary.com defines insanity as,
“Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”
That’s what we’re all doing. We’re all driving ourselves insane because we can’t see that we have a choice. The choice lies in where we focus on our attention. We can continue focusing on what we can’t control, OR we can choose to focus our attention on what we can control.
We can control how we respond to bad news, we can control how much energy we want to give to uncomfortable emotions, we can control how much family time we truly cherish and turn into lasting memories.
We have more power than we know. Even if it isn’t the power we want, we have the power to make the rest of our COVID experience feel a little less like hell.
WHERE TO FOCUS
With negative BS popping up throughout the day, constantly reminding us of how much 2020 sucks (on our newsfeed, on Facebook, Instagram, and ads on TV), how can we shift our attention?
It takes two steps:
First, catch yourself. When you start to recognize your mind going down the negative slide, stop yourself and remind yourself you have a choice.
Second, answer the following questions:
What am I upset about, and why?
What can I do about it OR what’s within my control?
How do I want to respond to this situation?
Once you answer these questions it will give your choice a direction. By breaking it down and starting at understanding we are showing kindness to ourselves first. Then we recognize our options and finally you CHOOSE what response will be the best for you. The only thing left is to act.
We don’t know when COVID will be over. We don’t know when life will return to “normal.” YOU have to choose how you want to spend the rest of your time and energy while COVID is around.
You have the key to your own freedom! Now you just have to choose freedom!