At present there are many restrictions in place with what we can do, where we can go and who we can visit. Whilst we understand and appreciate the reasons it is frustrating and limiting. The plans we had at the start of 2020 have gone right out of the window and have been replaced with a level of uncertainty.
Worrying, sulking and living in disappointment will do nothing to change our circumstances. We must somehow try to manage our emotions and frustrations. Our world has suddenly become smaller, our social life has being greatly impacted upon and the home is now a place of work and play for many. A lot of changes have taken place in such a short period of time and for some it has been overwhelming and even traumatic. We have been forced to adjust for the present time – we do not know how long the current arrangements will continue.
While we cannot currently fly abroad, have a UK break or enjoy a night out (dining or the theatre), there are still a few activities we are permitted to do. We can exercise outside, cycle, visit local parks, bake and cook at our leisure. Yesterday we took the children for a picnic in our local park and we had an enjoyable time. I know a few people who have hosted an online party for their birthday celebration- different but fun nonetheless.
Finding alternative ways to have fun and enjoy life is important otherwise we can become pessimistic about the future and sink into a state of depression and hopelessness. This would impact on our mental health – not for the better.
Look at what you are able to do and try not to ponder on what is essentially out of your control. It will only serve to steal your joy.
Knowing we are accepted by others allows us to be who we truly are. We can reveal our flaws, shortcomings and quirky ways with complete confidence we will continue to be loved and embraced. When we do not feel accepted we tend to a) present ourselves in such a way that others will welcome us or b) draw back from others feeling somewhat rejected. Neither of these circumstances bring any real benefit to an individial.
Accepting others means we acknowledge they have different behaviours and a different mindset to us. We can like and/or love them understanding they are just the way they are. If we find ourselves trying to mould others or get them to see life from our point of view, we are sending a message that ‘our way is the way’. This is simply not true and can impact negatively on the lives of others.
I find people are often themselves when around family. They can be free to ‘let it all out’ because deep down they know they are loved. There is a safety net that cannot easily be broken.
People easily learn they are not accepted by the way in which others relate to them. Sometimes it is by a person’s body language or level of attention they are receiving. On occasions when I believed I was not accepted, I instantly drew back from people. I rarely said why and this later became a method of protecting myself.
As a teenager I was an introvert and had one or two friends at school as opposed to a large group of friends. I felt uncomfortable and out of my depth being in a crowd. In my eyes many of my peers were outspoken, confident, mature and the life and soul of a party. I was not made this way and therefore not easily accepted within social groups because I did not and could not conform. I remained being myself even when it was not perceived as particularly cool.
I believe we all come to a point in life where we learn to accept ourselves. Once we arrive at this place we are less affected when others do not accept us. We are at peace with ourselves and we like who we are as a person so the opinion of others tends to float off of us. We grow to a level of maturity where we are not willing to be tweaked and moulded into something else in order to be accepted. We are happy just as we are.
The way in which we communicate with others can either strengthen or deteriorate our relationships.
We should ideally choose to fully engage, giving the other person the opportunity to express how they are feeling. Their response will not be as we expect as they are not us and therefore do not process their thoughts and information in the same way.
We can easily fall into the trap of believing we know how someone feels or what they are thinking based on our own thought pattern. The number of times I have listened (at times half listened) to my husband express himself and I wrongly respond with my take on what I believe he actually thinks and feels. How can I possibly know when we have different thought patterns? I am learning to accept what my husband is relaying to me even when it does not line up with my own rational. This helps to keep our lines of communication open and for him to feel respected.
In my various places of employment, I recall reading an email and completely misinterpreted the content because I had made assumptions on the first few lines I had read. I also recall several times being asked to see the director and assuming I knew what they were going to speak to me about. Rather than wait until the meeting I would over analyse past projects I had completed and conversations I had had, in order to feel prepared. What a waste of my energy!
I have an over active mind and it means I often over think scenarios and situations, giving them far more meaning than I ought to.
When we improve our communication with others we are in a better position to understand how they think and why they think in this way. They will find it easier to relate to us meaning they can be who they truly are without the need to over explain or tell us what they believe we want to hear.
Communicating well with others is important in all of our relationships, from marriage to friendships to working relationships. When there is a breakdown in communication, it benefits us to identify why and how we can improve upon this. As painful as this may be (to our egos mostly), this will help to heal the rift. Of course if the person does not wish to meet you halfway, there is little you can do. You have done your part.
WE have been in ‘lockdown’ for weeks on end with no certainty of the end date. We are limiting who we come into contact with, how often we leave our home and where we go. Many have never experienced anything similar in their lifetime. We will long remember this pandemic and the impact it had on our society.
I commend the doctors, nurses, health care assistants, teachers and other public sector keyworkers who have gone over and above to ensure we are being looked after.
Often we believe we have far more control over our lives than we do and our current situation brings this home to me. Many will face cancelled training/conferences, holidays, birthday and wedding celebrations. Many 15 and 16 year olds will not sit their GCSE exams this year and instead be graded on their progress so far and teacher assessments. Though disappointing, our health and well-being is of the upmost importance.
We cannot be sure how long we will be required to continue living as we are. If we allow it the unknown can bring anxiety, fear and worry. We miss our freedom, our family and friends, our social lives and coming and going as we please. We have no control over what is to come but we can choose to accept that this is our way of life for the time being. We can choose to enjoy the activities that we are able to do; games time with family, cooking, baking, sewing, drawing, playing a musical instrument, reading – the list really does go on!
How are you coping with the restrictions?
In these challenging and uncertain times, it is difficult to advise others to cease from worrying. People are panic buying foods and household goods, schools are likely to close as of next week, shops, bars and restaurants will also be closing their doors and the NHS is bursting at the seams with more patients than they can cope with.
Those who are more prone to worrying can easily grow obsessed with listening to and discussing the current pandemic. Others will ponder on it then move on in their thoughts. They may appear to be aloof and unphased but the fact is they simply process chaos and troubles differently.
Worrying does nothing to change our circumstances yet many of us succumb to it. Growing up when a situation affected me, I would think of it constantly until it began to consume my very being. I allowed worrying to take my joy and it meant I rarely lived ‘in the moment’. Instead, I would be out with friends enjoying myself to a point while a part of me secretly worried about one thing or another. I struggled to deal with disappointment as I hated feeling and being out of control.
I am due to go on holiday in several months and it could possibly be cancelled or rescheduled. Years ago I would have had an out-and-out meltdown. I would have telephoned the travel operator on a daily basis requesting updates and growing more and more agitated. Today, I am trying to take life in my stride (and sometimes fail) with the knowledge that worrying has no positive impact on our circumstances.
Are you plagued with worry?
Please share your experiences.
Life is short – loosen up!
Sometimes we do not realise how short our life on earth is. We put much effort into planning, worrying and saving for our future. Whilst it is advisable to plan ahead, we should also live with an open mindset that life is unlikely to pan out exactly as we would hope. We must live flexibly enough to deal the challenges, the hindrances and the detours.
Some may well live life according to text book; GCSEs, A Levels, degree, masters, then entry into their desired career. All by the age of 25 of course! Some may take several detours along the way due to circumstances outside of their control which means they enter their desired career aged 30. Some may not go through the typical education system at all whether they do not deem themselves academic, they have no interest in attending university, their desired career path does not require a degree, they need to work full-time on leaving college. The point is each person will arrive at their destination.
Life is for living and we owe it to ourselves to have an element of joy even if life is not exactly how we envisaged it to be. There will be seasons in which we will feel trapped, frustrated and challenged. There may also be little we can actually do about it (I have been there). However, we can choose to focus on the areas of our life that we can change, however small that change may be.
Wear the new shirt/trousers/lipstick/skirt to work. Why wait for a special occasion that may not arrive for months? Live for today, feel good today, feel proud of yourself today with the intention of enjoying the journey. Let us not become so preoccupied with keeping our eye on the end goal that we forget to live in the moment.
Change whether it benefits us directly or not is inevitable. We have little control over the circumstances that change the course of our lives. We can choose to wallow or ride through the change. Either way it will happen whether we are on board or not.
I find children highly adaptable whereas adults can become entwined with routine. At primary school in the 1980’s, I recall peers leaving and new children joining. After a week I had almost forgotten about those who had left and those who had recently joined became part of our ‘new family’. Adults appear to take longer to adjust. Partly, I believe is to do with the fact that we become set in our ways.
Like most people I gladly welcome change when I have had a hand in the decision making process, not so much when the change has been thrust upon me. I am trying to be more flexible in my thinking and my approach. Such people tend to take life in their stride rather than walk around with their feathers ruffled.
Seeing as we know change will come, we owe it to ourselves to allow for a level of flexibility. We owe it to ourselves to be less rigid with our plans, our dreams, our schedules. There are often more ways to reach our end goal. When life throws us off course, we can jump back on the saddle as opposed to giving up.
We can work towards embracing change by learning to expect the unexpected. At times life can appear to be plain sailing for a season then a sudden change can occur. We can choose not to ‘coast’ during the comfortable seasons and plan and stay focused.
How do you react to change whether positive or negative? How has this impacted on your life?
Weariness happens to the best of us. Whether employed/self-employed, studying, running a home, rearing children, caring for elderly parents, life can take its toll on us physically, emotionally and mentally. We owe it to ourselves to give our body and mind rest when needed otherwise we will become burnt out. When we feel drained we have absolutely nothing to offer to anyone. It is likely we will be snappy, despondent, lethargic and uninspired – not the kind of characteristics that others will gravitate to.
The majority of Saturday mornings I wake up and think ahead to what I hope to achieve. The mere thought of meeting just a few of these tasks make me feel overwhelmed. I would not say I ‘carry’ more than the average woman but still I have this feeling of being overloaded. My husband is very hands-on and optimistic even when busy – he takes life in his stride. I on the other hand feel the need to discuss (okay grumble) what I have to do as if it changes anything!
We can be over ambitious in cramming far to many tasks in one day rather than focusing on just three or four. There will always be one more thing to do but we get to decide if it is vital or if it can be put on hold for another day. The need for control or perfection can result in us pressuring ourselves unnecessary. This only causes feelings of anxiety and defeat.
As I leave church I am already thinking ahead to cooking our Sunday lunch and tackling the pile of ironing that mainly consists of school uniforms (polo shirts x10 come to mind!) I plan to listen to music or watch a Netflix series on my phone while ironing. It makes a significant difference to my sense of well-being.
It feels as though time moves faster the older I become. The years roll smoothly into each other and at times I have wondered whether an event took place in 2018 or 2019. As a child the weekends felt ample and the summer holidays like a lifetime. I recall July and August in the 1980’s being filled with endless trips to the park, beaches and play schemes. I was rarely without an ice lolly in my hand due to the scorching weather.
As an adult my weekend feels like it ends on a Sunday somewhere between ironing my children’s school uniform and choosing an outfit for work. The prep work for Monday certainly puts me in ‘work mode’.
Technology plays its part in keeping us connected to the world. There are many positives in signing up to social media. However, if we are not mindful we can spend a lot of our time online; casually surfing, networking, promoting our business. This reduces our time to rest, reflect, see people in person, read books, explore the outdoors and so on.
On my commute I read the online bible, books, blogs and listen to music. I decided that I may as well use my journey to learn, reflect and enjoy music. This has enhanced my commute time; something I once saw just as a means to an end.
Outside of our day-to-day work whether we are self-employed or an employee, we can decide what we do with our time. We can choose to commit to studying, reading books, going for leisurely walks, visiting a friend or relative. Whilst it can be difficult to factor in time to do as we would like, we can be flexible to ensure there is some space for learning, developing, fun and family time. I am of the mindset of ‘if it is important we will give it priority’.
Time will pass regardless of what you do with the hours you are given. You can decide if you want something to show for it or not. Do you wish to look back in years to come and smile at the fact that you did what you intended, you did what was necessary and what mattered to you and others around you?
Life is for living and not just for allowing time to pass us by.
For the past few days I have been thinking about my behaviours; particularly those I would like to change. I have found myself at this point on a number of occasions. Initially I am excited and enthusiastic about the prospect of a ‘new me’ then situations arise and I find myself right back to square one. By this time I am despondent, exhausted and frustrated.
At times we have the will and zeal but slide back to our old way of thinking and acting. Once the despair surfaces we may struggle to believe we can ever change making it easier to revert. We can talk ourselves out of trying believing it to be in vain, that we are just as we are. Change will be painful, change will take work, change will have its setbacks and change will take time. Our behaviours are learnt over years therefore it would be unrealistic to expect radical changes over a few months or even a few years.
By nature, I am an introvert – I am present when with you but I need time out daily at work and home. This is to recharge my batteries and reflect on the many thoughts, decisions and discussions that have taken place in my head and with others. By nature I can be grumpy, direct and I wear my heart on my sleeve – just ask my family! I struggle to conceal my feelings when sad, angry or confused. I try but it seems hopeless. I would probably burst if I have to suppress how I feel – it is simply not a part of my make up.
Despite being well aware of my behaviours I still remain hopeful that even a small change is better than no change. I am learning not to be too hard on myself when I fail to act as I know I should. I am learning that no one person is perfect and yearning for absolute perfection is pointless – you will always come up short. Instead I try to accept who I am whilst pushing for improvement.
Have you attempted to change your behaviours?
How did you feel when change was slow or non-existent?