So, just as we were all getting along fine, earning some money, going on holiday and being normal, and along comes a worldwide pandemic and wipes the slate clean. It’s like a global Etch A Sketch, we’re all back at square one scratching our heads, wondering how long our savings will last and whether to re-do our CV’s.
Here’s a handful of things that will make the difference between hopeless resignation and quiet optimism whilst picking ourselves up and starting from scratch after lockdown…again.
First of all let’s remember that things will get better, no matter what numpty is put in charge of the country. As soon as one of the many vaccines hits the streets we’ll start spending money again on things we need and things that we want. It’s how we work, how we’re hard wired, and just as quickly as the economy went down the tubes it will come gushing back, even if it’s on long term credit.
But, for now, whilst we’re all arm in arm (and at the same time observing safe physical distancing), standing on the precipice and looking into an uncertain future, let’s do a few things that will help us move forwards with a little more confidence.
What are your three strongest qualities? And, don’t say that you can’t think of any. It maybe that you are particularly stubborn or wonderfully flexible, resilient or adaptable, light hearted or serious minded. However your personality is composed, write down your three strongest qualities. If you really can’t see them for yourself, ask a good friend how they see you, and what you are like. I bet you will be surprised.
Remember that it’s these three qualities which have enabled you to succeed this far.
What’s the Plan
I once had a counselling client who was a multi millionaire whose mantra was “failing to plan is a plan to fail.” And as annoying as these phrases may be there is something to be said for having a plan. It provides security and structure from which grows confidence. Spend 5 minutes simply jotting down what your plan is. It may be that you are starting afresh in a different direction, or perhaps adapting your old plan to this new and more uncertain future. However it looks, and whatever your situation, make sure you have your own individual plan.
Letter From The Future
So armed with your three unique and probably quite wonderful qualities and a solid plan of action, write a letter to yourself as though it is two years from now and your plan has succeeded and everything is going well for you. Life is once again good. Write to yourself and explain how you managed this and what helped to make the difference. Given the right environment it’s surprising how good the advice is that we can give ourselves. Give it a go, write that letter now.
Success, Success and More Success
Don’t forget how successful you are. You may not feel it right now as we’re all watching our savings dwindle down to a small pile of beans, but in the past you have been wildly successful, I know you have. Whether it was when you passed your driving test (there’s still a picture of me on the fridge door standing next to an old Ford Escort in the car park of the Southend On Sea Driving Test Centre), or when you got your job or passed exams, or when you became a parent or created a vegetable plot or fixed the car. If you look back there will be times in your life when you were successful and felt a million dollars and it’s important to remember those times and not allow yourself to sink and believe your own negative publicity. If you did it before you can do it again.
Change the Record
Daryl Bem, a contemporary psychologist and theorist created something called Self Perception Theory. Basically it states that “we learn what we believe as we hear ourselves talk.” I have always rather liked this and think there is more than an ounce of truth in this simple idea. Don’t allow yourself to repeat self-defeating statements or ideas to yourself, or anyone else for that matter. Every time we hear ourselves say “I can’t cope, it’s all dreadful” we are becoming more attached to this belief, until of course, we hit a point where we make it our reality. It’s the old self fulfilling prophesy idea approached from a slightly different direction.
Write a list of the negative things which you can hear yourself saying and re-word them, so a phrase like “I’ll never be able to get another job that I like” may become something like “getting another job that I like maybe hard work and take a while but it’s not beyond me.” A simple re-arrangement and re-wording can make all the difference. All these little things add up to make a big difference.
And lastly, having identified three of our strongest qualities, written a plan and a letter of advice and encouragement to ourselves from our future self, identified our successes, as well as our negative thoughts and ideas, it’s time to put it all together and start again.
It may not be a great consolation but at least we are now all in more or less the same boat and looking to start creating our lives all over again.
Visit our online counselling page to find out more about help and support during these immensely difficult times.