2020. The year of the global pandemic. Notorious Zoom quizzes, endless baking and more change than we were frankly ever prepared for. People from across the globe, from every industry, from all backgrounds have faced the trials of the pandemic. Businesses have ceased and also been born. It has been a year and a half of enormous uncertainty, which has affected everyone in a variety of ways.
I have heard the phrase ‘we can see light at the end of the tunnel’ countless times over the last month or so. The question is, what will the light look like at the end of this tunnel? As a life coach, I have seen first-hand the emotional and physical impacts of the pandemic. Now that restrictions are starting to ease, some of our fears are more future facing. We might be asking ourselves questions like ‘how am I going to adapt?’ or ‘what if I can’t cope?’ and ‘what if I am the only one feeling this way?’ I can tell you with certainty, that you are not alone. These fears are very normal, and make you human. Some of your thoughts may be around:
Fear of socialising
Physically going back to work
The unknown and lack of control
Re-expanding our worlds
Anxiety around change/capability
You may not feel any of the above, or you may resonate with them all. Wherever you are and however you feel is valid and normal. Your perception of how other people are feeling also adds an extra layer of anxiety of ‘I’m not normal’. The way that anxiety works is by sometimes overestimating threats/danger, and underestimating our ability to cope. You are also not your anxiety – anxiety may live within us, but we are not solely our anxiety. Naturally, we as humans have negativity bias hardwired into our brains, which means we look for danger and home in on potential threats. However, it is about finding the balance
between acknowledging our feelings, and also having an awareness that the human brain naturally looks for threats. The more we can normalise the multifaceted beings we are, the easier it is to let go as we have honoured our emotions.
Switching negativity bias
This is an exercise where you can start to reframe some thoughts that could be perceived as negative, to positive. Here, we are addressing the balance of the future. As humans, we tend to fall into black or white thinking – we can perceive experiences or emotions in absolutes. It might feel unrealistic or artificial at first, but this can be practised over time. Looking at the list of potential anxieties above, examples of this may be:
‘I am afraid that I have forgotten how to socialise and I won’t be able to cope.’ Reframed to ‘Humans are naturally social creatures and socialising is a skill that we can learn.’
‘I am worried about commuting into work again on the tube; the time that I will lose and being amongst crowds again.’ Reframed to ‘How could I use my commuting time as a way of giving back to myself? What podcast have I wanted to listen to, what TV show have I wanted to watch, and which books do I want to read?’
‘I feel fearful about what will happen in the future and out of control.’ Reframed to ‘Uncertainty is a certainty of life; none of us can control external events but one thing I can control is my feelings and emotions towards the future.’
‘I’m afraid I won’t be able to cope with introducing more activities and variety into my life again.’ Reframed to ‘I’m going to use this time to really think about activities that nourish me, and what I want my life to be like now.’
To implement this further, why not try a journaling exercise?
Try to take just two minutes out of your day, and write down some thoughts that are coming up for you. This could be at the time when you’re waiting for the kettle to boil, or the microwave to finish. Look at those thoughts and have a go at reframing them like in the examples above. Whilst doing this, make sure to hold and speak to yourself with compassion. We are just ‘observing’ our thoughts, not criticising them.
Timeline of resilience
Throughout our life we have adapted without realising and have overcome challenges/feelings that we thought we never would. For this exercise, write a timeline of events that have happened in your life where you have had to adapt. Maybe you had to overcome certain changes, or fears? Make a note of all the times where adapting was key. This is literally proof that you can adapt, and sometimes we underestimate our skills in this area. Some questions to ask yourself:
What were the learnings from these experiences?
What about the event particularly triggered me?
What strengths did I lean into, in order to get through it?
What resources were available at the time?
Get out a pen and paper, and draw a line down the page. In chronological order, write out times where you have faced change. Use the questions in the bullet points above to shed some awareness on what happened.
This pandemic has forced us to get to know ourselves better. It is forcing us to evolve. It is forcing us to look inwards in a way that feels unfamiliar. Begin by being kind and compassionate to yourself during this difficult time. Trust yourself and your process.
Your mind becomes what you feed it – so choose your brain food wisely and gently.
Olivia Wynne | Life Coach @oa_coaching
Olivia is an inclusive and transformational life coach based in London. Born and raised in the UK, she studied life coaching with Animas and now owns a global coaching business. She offers general life coaching, but has worked with clients covering topics such as fear, anxiety, belief systems, self acceptance, goals/purpose and narrative work.
Olivia now coaches clients on a 1:1 basis from all corners of the world, and describes self development as the true ‘love of her life’.