I’ve had a ton of emails come in from people who are sharing their thoughts and opinions on the current situation regarding Covid-19. That’s understandable – people are saying things out loud which, for most of us (myself included) helps us work through our feelings and figure out our stance on something.
But I’ve not seen many people talk about what they are actually doing. So I wanted to take a quick moment to share with you how I’m responding to the situation.
1. I’m preparing for a new normal
I’m hearing people say “when things get back to normal”. Well, it is reasonable to believe that our way of being pre-Covid will not return. Not in the exact same way anyway. So, I’m positioning my work and my personal life for a new normal.
Together with my husband, we are revamping retirement plans, financial goals and long term planning for the family. We are tweaking our plans for holidays this summer and are looking at the things that matter most to us, as individuals and as a couple. And for myself, I’m spending a lot more time on self-care and self-development (more on that in a moment).
Regarding work, I’m having more enquiries for the “therapy” side of my Business Psychology expertise. My 1-1 work is mostly with legal professionals about building their business but other folks, from all walks and communities, have contacted me about “mindset mastery”. They want to know how to be more psychologically resilient, flexible and adaptable. They want new coping strategies and are recognizing the power of perspective, especially with the notion of “control”.
So, here are a few things I’m preparing for when things get to their new normal:
- I’m working on a new piece of “big content” for later this year, probably before the summer
- I’m improving some of the old content from The Morris Code vault and bringing it right up to date
- I’m improving my own systems and adjusting them in advance of the new normal
2. I’m learning new things
Lifelong learning has always been a big passion of mine. No matter what is happening in my business, I always dedicate weekly and/or monthly time to learning something new, both directly related to my work and also just for the fun of it. Given the bits of extra time I’ve got right now, I’m dedicating specific time to learning something brand new. Plus, this is going to be a new normal of mine. Instead of randomly giving time to it, I’m cutting out a full morning every week. No work, no family – just me and learning.
3. I’m giving back to my business community
In my own way, I’m sharing ideas, advice and guidance that I’ve learned over the years. While of course I’ve never dealt with a health pandemic before, my 20+ year business (and 15+ year legal career before that) has seen tremendous ups and downs caused by recession, market flips, my moving country and restarting, the bottom falling out of a particular market and so on.
(Hint – a key thing to remember for yourself right now is that you have also seen these times before. The big difference between then and now is that it is happening to all of us at the same time, en masse, rather than to individuals or businesses one at a time, quietly in the corner of a community).
So I’m spending a lot of time right now connecting with the greater community, hosting webinars and online seminars and offering parts of my TMC content for little or no fee to companies, organizations and communities who ask for it.
So, that’s how I’m responding to things.
Action – Now, I’d like to hear from you. How are you responding to the current situation? I’d really like to know. Leave a comment below or send me an email (email@example.com)
Quickly search Google and you will find a plethora of academic and pundit posts on why people are panic buying and/or extremely anxious about Covid-19. I’m being asked lots of questions from clients and buddies so I thought I’d make a quick post.
First, let me say I am not a doctor and do not know all the details of the virus itself. So, I’m not going there except to say “get your information from the local and national health authorities, not social media”. One would think that is a known fact. However, most of us want fast and easy info, so we watch the Twitter or Facebook feeds roll past. What would be more helpful to your state of mind is to click a little further and look at the data.
The psychology of panic can be summed up in one word. No, not “fear” although that is one of the results of the word.
The word is “control”. Or, perhaps in this case, “lack of control”. Or more accurately, “perceived lack of control”.
Of course, you cannot control the virus. No matter what you do, you might still get it. And that is one of the things the back of your brain recognizes you have no control over. Nor do you have control over the health of your family, the duration of your job, the ups and downs of the economy, what might happen to food and water supplies etc etc etc. So you can’t control any of it.
Most of us want to feel in control, and the moment we don’t feel in control, our stress levels go up. And just to add insult to injury, “stress occurs when perceived demand exceeds perceived ability to cope”. Note the repeated word.
So, you can’t control this thing that could possibly kill you or someone you love. That is nothing new. You can’t control some of the basics of your surroundings. That is nothing new. You can’t control what’s happening in the rest of your neighborhood, community or country. Again, that is nothing new. Until now, you have just told yourself (falsely but hopefully) that you have more control than you actually do.
So, among other things, Covid-19 is reminding you that you have no control of anything outside the fuzz on your skin. In part, this explains why every roll of toilet paper is flying off shelves – we can control that purchase. We can get “that” hand sanitizer. We can buy a bunch of cans of beans before everyone else does. We can pad the nest. We can control that.
“Oh but wait, now the store shelves are running out and I don’t know if the delivery truck drivers will all get sick, or the factory workers will all get sick or the factories will run out of their supplies and … and … and …. I must have control so I will drive 40 miles to a small town to buy toilet paper. I can control that. I am controlling that. I am succeeding at that.” Until everyone else gets the same idea.
And so on.
You also know, and perhaps just need to be reminded today, that you are able to control the story line in your head – in other words, your perception of the situation.
You can succeed and calm yourself down through your thoughts and personal actions, such as deep breathing, meditation, watching funny films, reading a great book, having a relaxing chat with your partner or friend about “other things”, spending extra time with a favorite hobby or even just hanging out with the pets. All of these things are in your control.
You have faced very (very) stressful situations before and come out the other side – maybe a bit bumped and bruised, but you are here.
You can succeed at self-awareness. You can succeed at controlling self.
Years ago, while standing in Heathrow airport waiting for my return flight to Canada after years away in the UK, I spotted a book on the shelf of a store. Long story short, I was anxious about my return to Canada after being away for so long and wasn’t sure what was going to happen next. The city I was travelling to was one I’d never stepped into before, knew no one and, ya, I was pretty stressed. My perceptions (story lines) were all over the place … full of angst and fear. So, I read the whole book in my seven hour flight and one single sentence from it has stuck with me all these years:
I don’t know, let’s find out.
The book was “Embracing Uncertainty” by Dr. Susan Jeffers.
That one phrase took my brain from fear and anxiety to curiosity (which is a state the brain loves to be in). We are naturally curious beings and, when piqued, curiosity can shift us away from fear (especially the unnecessary kind that is driven by an “I’m out of control” story line).
I remained vigilant to my new surroundings from a ‘present moment’ time frame and I became focused on making mindful decisions. I wasn’t foolhardy about the situation I was in yet I wasn’t foolish with my attitudes and actions. And I did this from the part of my brain that doesn’t panic – the same powerful part young children have an abundance of every time you put a box down in front of them.
That one phrase – I don’t know, let’s find out – reminded me that I have faced uncertainty hundreds if not thousands of times and have survived by engaging the power of my thoughts.
Of course coronavirus is not the same as moving country, but when it comes to your brain’s stress response to the story line you are playing in your head, yes it is. You can control your thoughts about coronavirus just like you can about most things.
I’m not saying that anyone should disregard advice from medical professionals and just walk around saying “oh ya, I don’t care, let’s shake hands.” I’m talking about being mindful of your mind. I’m talking about taking control back to the place it belongs – inside your head.
Stop giving your power away and start using it to be curious, careful, engaged and present in this moment.
What’s going to happen with this Covid-19 situation? I don’t know, let’s find out.
(Try this out for yourself. Sit quietly for a moment or two. Then allow yourself to feel some of the anxiety you’ve been feeling. If not about the virus, your anxiety could be due to something else, so go ahead and get in touch with that feeling. Think of that situation and ask yourself “what is going to happen?” Pause and reply “I don’t know, let’s find out.” Then check in with yourself – do you feel any shift at all toward curiosity or calm? You might not the first or second time, so do it again. It is such a simple phrase yet it can be so powerful.)
I’m always a bit intrigued when I meet people who think that, because of the work I do in personal and professional development, my life must be totally sorted.
As much as I’d like to say it is, of course it is not.
I become stuck, feel envious, get bogged down in noise, get angry ‘unnecessarily’, let things overwhelm me, and just about everything else.
I argue with my husband, worry about money from time to time, have little patience with the stepkids sometimes (who are now in their 20s), want to hibernate away from everyone and just cannot be bothered with doing “today’s” work.
And it is a big “however” …
I possess a deep sense of confidence and calm, knowing where these things are coming from and exactly how to get back on track. I do not berate myself (as much) anymore nor do I judge myself as a failure in some way.
Every day, I know some squirrel is probably going to tempt me or throw a curve ball in my direction. And that’s okay. In fact, it is part of the fun.
Action – What magic pill did I swallow? None (though a glass of wine or G&T can certainly be helpful).
It is a matter of the choices I make on a frequent basis. These are the same choices you can make too:
• Practice some degree of mindfulness throughout the day
• Pause in gratitude frequently
• Praise myself for the things that I do that are a stretch
• Notice and acknowledge others for who they are
• Purposefully shut off (or at least tone down) the inner critic
• Stop listening to all the “secrets” – I know me best
• Believe in something bigger than me
• Raise my self-awareness constantly
• Be a lifelong learner.
In other words, many little decisions made throughout the day, every day. No magic pill. No “30 days to a million dollars”. Just daily consistent, persistent attitude and actions.