One would like to believe that every individual around the globe is an expert in “how to cope in times of adversity”. Alas, resilience is a skill which requires us to apply adaptive thinking, and when times are tough, we don’t always know what to do and how to handle the challenges we are faced with.
South Africa’s lockdown reached 60 days at midnight. Initially, you prepared yourself for 21 days, then another 2 weeks, then… our lockdown has not predetermined end in sight.
During this period, you adapted. You learned to stay at home, you learned to wear a mask when in public, you learned to practice social distancing, you are aware of the need to wash our hands more frequently and to avoid touching your face. You even got used to a curfew during which you were allowed to walk, run or ride a bicycle in the street.
You have formed new habits during the lockdown period, so much so, that when you now see people not complying with these regulations, your brain warns you that something is wrong. Looking back, you now know that it is possible to adopt new habits quite easily, even though you may not have agreed or liked the requirements which lead you to crate these new habits. These habits are tangible and easy to recognise.
Being resilient is a much bigger challenge for most. Displaying resilience in times when all is well, is easy and in times when things are not too challenging, we believe we would be able to deploy the necessary resilience when we meet with adversity.
While humans have an exceptional ability to bounce back from adversity, to control their thoughts, to adapt and to survive, your experiences during the lockdown period may have highlighted to you that you are not as resilient as you would like to be.
You may have started to see the world as a harsh place and found every reason in the book to justify escaping from reality. You may have procrastinated more than you would’ve like to. You may have started blaming the circumstances, the government and others for how you feel, and the circumstances became your master. Perhaps you started binge watching, eating more and playing video games more than you would have done if times were not tough. You may have grappled with anger and frustration more. You may see yourself as powerless and negative self-talk is at the order of the day. Is there a way out though? Can you feel “normal” again? Can you rise above the devastating effects of this global spectacle? Will you be…. Ok? The answer is - YES!
John Allen wrote a book published in 1903, “As a man thinketh”. A literary essay about the power of the mind. Quite extraordinary and ahead of its time.
In his book he wrote: “The soul attracts that which it secretly harbors; that which it loves, and also that which it fears; it reaches the height of its cherished aspirations; it falls to the level of its unchastened desires—and circumstances are the means by which the soul receives its own. Every thought-seed sown or allowed to fall into the mind, and to take root there, produces its own, blossoming sooner or later into act, and bearing its own fruitage of opportunity and circumstance. Good thoughts bear good fruit, bad thoughts bad fruit”.
For now, guard your thoughts. Do it, and do it again. Remember, you are capable of creating new habits.