Let’s face it. The last two years have been a remarkably stressful times for many, and it has left an indelible mark on our entire world.
All of us have had to adjust to how we live our lives, how we do business, how we educate and care for our children, the juggling of career and home life, loss of jobs, adjusted or ended relationships, and perhaps struggled to find a foothold in very uncertain territory. Frankly, it’s been a lot to take in. No wonder anxiety and burnout have increased in society.
As I reflect on the last two years there are three words that come to mind. Fear, Priorities and Resilience. All of them have necessitated changing my thinking and behavior to meet the challenges of the times, but the most important was my ability to deal with the uncertainty and tap into my resilient nature.
- Anxiety levels went through the roof during the last two years. Fear of catching the virus. Fear of losing life. Fear of losing our jobs. Fear of losing our minds to name a few. The fear of the unknown and the uncertainty of when it will all end created massive disruption in our ability to respond positively to a crisis that was unlike anything we had ever encountered. During this period, if we were resilient, we developed a tolerance for uncertainty that was highlighted by our ability to reset priorities and deal with changing forces that were beyond our control.
- We had to look hard at the things that are important and find our meaning and purpose in them. They included our family and their needs, our health and how we can protect ourselves, and in our work world we questioned everything we wanted from it. If it didn’t meet our needs, we questioned what the future of work could look like, with many of us deciding to ditch the old models and find new ways to engage in work.
- We also took a hard look at all the things we strived for and saw how life could be simpler with less need for the ‘stuff’ that added complications to our already complicated lives. For many there was a need to redefine relationships and find new ways to connect through video conferencing and distance gatherings to bring people together. How many Zoom dinners did you have with friends? How many meetings turned into impromptu social affairs? How many new friends did you make through networking on video? All of this changed the way we think of connecting and socializing.
- Working from home presented new challenges because we no longer had casual conversations that built friendships. The result was increased Isolation and loneliness which was already a problem. Many turned to alcohol, overeating, binging on television, and shopping online. For many others we found joy in close family connections that were in sharp contrast to the always on, never home, work life that had gone before. In our VUCA world, resetting our priorities was about making life simpler, not more complex.
We leaned into our resilience to recover quickly from challenges. We tapped into our ability to bounce back when life gives you the lemons, and you make lemonade. And for those who struggle with tapping into resilience, change may have felt like a full-blown disaster movie!
If you continue to feel overwhelmed with life circumstances and are tired of bouncing back consider the following:
Check Your Thought Patterns
- It’s easy to think in black or white, either/or scenarios. You might assume the worst will happen. You have fears that your world as you know it will never be the same. When you examine these thought patterns and assess how rational they are, you find space to analyze the circumstances and come to new conclusions. If you are a mind-spinner and find it hard to slow down, try meditation or deep breathing. It can help you feel more in control of your brain and how to you evaluate change. It’s also helpful to remember that whatever difficult times you’re dealing with now, you have dealt with the same or worse before and successfully navigated your way through it.
Focus Your Priorities
- The most resilient people see change as an opportunity rather than a monster to fear. Transitions in life allow you to consider where your priorities lie. How do you really want to spend your time on earth? What’s important to you? Where do you see yourself wasting your time and energy? With a clear sense of your goals and values, you will find your mind and body can be much more resilient when it comes to the stressors of change.
- Above all, prioritizing your health in life’s transitions means not being afraid to ask for help when you need it. Humans are social creatures by nature. You were not built to withstand every sudden event in life without the support of others. Talk to family and friends who are experiencing similar changes or consider finding a support group in your community. Ask your doctor about how to prioritize your health during change, and do not be afraid to talk to a counselor or other mental health professional about building resilience. You cannot avoid change, but you live a life of resilience. You can embrace transition and see challenges as opportunities to thrive. Know what’s important to you and challenge yourself to stay focused on that. Too many times we invest in other people’s priorities and forget about our own
- We can control our thinking and our emotions, but we can’t always control our environment or the circumstances that we are dealt in life. It can be too easy to fixate on things we can’t control and forget about the things we can. You can’t change other people, but you can take control of your own life. You may not be able to change the loss of a job, but you can think about what you want to do next. You can’t always choose who you work with, but you can adjust your attitude to how you want to deal with them. We all like to think we are in control, but frequently we are trying to control things that are beyond our capabilities.
- Understanding what you can and cannot control becomes the habit of letting go of the investment of making sure everything is under control. The truth is, most of life is actually not in our control. Just ask the courageous Ukrainians, or other persecuted people on this earth. Our control concerns seem rather paltry in comparison.
Be In The Present
- This is always easier said than done. The truth is our only reality is this present moment. 10 seconds ago is history. Five minutes from now is the future. You are not in either one at this present time. Set time aside to be gentle with yourself. Take time to relax, take deep breaths, and bring your focus back to this moment. To the present.
You Are Resilient
- When you are resilient you are willing to adapt and find a different way and know how to be flexible when life throws you a curveball. Knowing you have come through tough times before; you know you will survive because you are willing to be flexible and have learned to trust yourself to solve problems and handle your emotional responses.
- A good sense of humor plays an important part in having strong resilience. Taking yourself too seriously is a health hazard. The idea that laughter heals the mind has been around for a long time. Mark Twain described laughter as the most effective weapon against depression. Having the ability to laugh at the ridiculousness of things and see past the difficulties to lighten the load is a key factor in building resilience.
- Share what lessons you learned from the last two years in the comments section.
If you are ready to move beyond uncertainty, set new priorities, and discover how resilient you truly are, I invite you to give me a call to discover how I can help.
Be Fearless: See Where It Gets You!