WELL, I must admit that I was wrong.
I was wrong about the severity and tenure of the coronavirus; I was wrong about the likelihood of an economic shutdown, and I was wrong when I felt that the “we are all in this together” would continue.
I guess being told repeatedly over the years that “this flu would be the worst on record” I had become complacent to public health. But like so many, I didn’t see this one coming!
I recall asking participants in our 2015 Pathways to Purpose retreat in Bali where they saw themselves in five years. None of us got that answer right!
So here we are in September 2020 looking towards the future and, its shape varies on who you believe and listen to.
Of course, our future depends on us and never in my life (and I suspect yours) has the need for personal courage been so critical. The need to hold on to that courage, back ourselves, and make good choices is vital. So, where to from here?
My first suggestion is to remember the key messages that I have shared over the last two decades and continue to look after yourself so that you can look after your family, your mates and your world.
Another would be to maintain good habits, set routines and apply them in your day-to-day with discipline. Certainly, in these current times, this message expands to social distancing, washing hands, wearing masks and, if feeling unwell, get tested and isolate.
My third note – kindness and empathy are required more than ever before – to ourselves and to others. We all cope differently – from being fearless, to feeling uncomfortable in public amongst large groups. Empathy, respect and meaning must be high on our personal value sets!
If not already, use the technique of reframing. Mindsets shape thoughts; thoughts shape words, words shape action and, action shapes destiny. Be highly conscious and attuned to your mindset and “inner voice” – if need be, reframe your thoughts and words.
I hear so many people talk about coronavirus restrictions. The word restrictions has negative connotations, so I encourage people to replace it with something more positive such as coronavirus requirements. A small detail, but an important one.
Some may remember the times when smoking was first banned inside the office and aeroplanes (remember those days!). That restriction was considered a major attack on our freedom! The world, as we know it was going to end! At least, that was the general mindset of many.
A similar analogy would be the now accepted practice of wearing ‘hi-viz’ workwear – wasn’t that long ago that that “restriction” was seen to be an imposition on our personal choices.
In both examples, there was dis-obedience and objections! But those two things have become the norm because we stopped seeing them as a restriction and recognise them instead as a requirement – for our own benefit, and others.
If you are looking for problems, you will typically find them. Instead, start looking for opportunities, and you may very well find them too! So, change that mindset through reframing.
Another great suggestion is to reach out to people during challenging times. It allows you to help people – life is about giving rather than receiving but in the act of giving I reckon we receive great gifts.
Reaching out also demonstrates to others that it’s okay to talk, share, connect and work together.
I really do think that if we learn the lessons from of the coronavirus in how we care for each other, we will have achieved a massive tipping point in mental health and wellbeing. Part of reaching out is getting used to saying YES.
Somewhere in the Australian psyche is this sense of self-reliance. When you consider the metrics around anxiety, depression, and worse, in the Australian population (especially among men), this sense of reliance is not serving us well.
So, start saying YES to people whose role is to help – counsellors (both financial and emotional), family, pastors, your friends, workmates.
Accept the government support being offered through Centrelink. What goes around, comes around and now is the time many of us need to accept some of the support we have been providing to others.
I will not deny the great challenge that we are and will continue to face. There will be closedowns, pain, disappointment and some levels of societal dislocation.
I do believe that along with the economic challenge; the other real challenge will be the lasting psychological damage – do not let it define you.
I have an unmovable belief in the human spirit – as evidenced throughout history. I do believe that we will rise to the challenge.
But first, we must maintain ourselves and be ready to respond. We must have courage and faith in ourselves, our beliefs and values. We must invoke the willingness to back ourselves and the desire to support others.
Cometh the moment, cometh the person. Stay well!