Updated: Apr 25, 2020
The COVID pandemic has hit hard and wide. In France where I have called home for over 20 years, the situation is tragically staggering. This week, our nationwide lockdown was extended yet again, stretching almost to two months. It’s no consolation that our numbers are a tad lower than our closest neighbors, Italy and Spain.
For those of us not on the “front lines” fighting hard to save lives as much as stay alive, we are getting used to the daily rhythm of being confined, nurturing a small comfort that we are doing our part. All the same, as we home-school our children, carve out time to meet with colleagues and stay productive, do our best to stay healthy, there are real and invisible fears, worries and dilemmas that won’t go away.
The near future has suddenly become quite ambiguous.
A Precious Opening
Through coaching dialogues, a persistent thought kept hovering at the back of my mind, taking more center-stage lately. In one word, that thought is RESILIENCE – the ability to marshal our deepest forces to whither a storm and bounce back stronger.
As human beings, we are a resilient species. We have it in us to adapt and survive, but when life is good, and stays good for a while, that part of us goes dormant. We forget how to nurture it. Without practice, we become complacent.
That’s why in times like these, when the shock of sudden change takes hold, it spins us into confusion, a sense of loss and feeling powerless. However, times like these are precisely the precious opening we need to re-build our resilience. As Winston Churchill said, “Never let a good crisis go to waste”.
So over the next few weeks, I’ll be posting a series of blog posts about RESILIENCE in the interest of dialogue and learning.
3 Things to Heighten Self-Awareness Towards Resilience
Resilience begins with strengthening unwavering self-confidence. It is unwavering because it is anchored in heightened awareness: awareness of self, of others and of the relational dynamics we cultivate and build when we react to our environment and situation. Self-confidence without self-awareness is just bravado or worse, arrogance.
In this first blog of the series, I want to share 3 aspects you should think about and act on, capitalizing on this crisis.
1. Toxic Distancing
Social distancing is not only a chance to save lives, but also a rare occasion to minimize or cut off contact with certain situations or people to save our sanity. I’m not saying run from a problem, rather pick your battles.
If you’re having a hard time focusing, ask yourself if you’re not too much on social media or letting your favorite news channel loop all day? You could be creating a toxic situation by letting yourself be bombarded with information from all sides about a crisis you are powerless to control. Unchecked, it will eat away at your self-confidence when you are at your most vulnerable.
The same goes for people. Who, by their behavior or action is causing you sleepless nights at the moment? Who are you constantly at odds with? Who is making you question your decisions and actions repeatedly without any real fact? Whatever the reason, maybe it’s time to re-visit how you think and react to that person. Ask yourself, is it worth the pain of going round in circles? Can you truly make a positive change? If not, take the higher ground and distance yourself. Call a truce if you have to.
Conserve your energy for what counts and what you can control. Don’t get into a fight just to win or to prove you are right.
2. Mindful Coping
Toxic distancing can be hard to do if you don’t give yourself a break and timeout. This is where mindful coping comes into play.
Have you found yourself drifting off to that difficult meeting from yesterday while spending time with your children? Or, have you forgotten what you had for dinner last night because you were anticipating being laid off next week? Call it multi-tasking if you wish but you are going through motions without finding real reprieve from the other positive aspects of your life that can help you cope better.
Mindful coping is when we consciously counter this by carving out mental space to acknowledge the present in thought and body or in interacting with others. It’s a small window in which we revel in simple actions or meaningful dialogue and get pleasure out of it. The problem may or may not go away, but real timeout can help you look at its value differently.
If you happen to be living with a toxic person or situation in the house during this shutdown, it’s all the more critical you build mindful coping spaces whenever you can and wherever you can, alone or with someone who can help. Pure, raw expression in writing is also a powerful mindful coping mechanism in solitude. No special skills needed. Just your deepest thoughts on a blank page.
The idea is to find an activity or company we can immerse ourselves in to connect with our physical and inner state of the moment.
3. Vital Connections
On the opposing end of toxic distancing are vital social connections. As a gregarious species, we get our existential energy from being with others and knowing we are not alone – even for the most introverts among us. We learn largely from observing, interacting and mimicking. Relating to others is akin to holding up a mirror to ourselves, but with possible scenarios and alternatives. So connecting with others who forge our positive thinking, feed our beliefs and values, or bring out the best in us, will get us going.
In this lockdown, introverts and extroverts will find different challenges but there is no end to the creative ways in which people are reaching out to connect. They show up to do essential work despite the risk of infection, entertain from their balconies or rooftops, design and sew masks for others, volunteer themselves to farmers, share video tutorials on tips from haircutting to cooking and recycling at home, etc.
With technology, all this has become possible while keeping a safe physical distance without actually distancing ourselves socially – makes me think that our confinement should have been called “physical distancing” rather than “social distancing”.
The point is there are no right answers to how you connect, just the heightened awareness for the right ones to make you feel supported, comforted and re-vitalized.
By doing and practising toxic distancing, mindful coping and vital connections at the same time, we are laying the groundwork to reinforce our self-confidence. But there’s more work we need to do to ensure it becomes unwavering, and I’ll talk about that in the next blogpost.
Right now, do let me know what you think. Have I overlooked other aspects you believe have helped you heighten awareness?
As most things go, the devil of true insight is in details and personal context. Want to understand more? Get in touch. Or better yet, book a FREE consultation and coaching session, and let's get you going.