Right now, most of us are craving normal. We want a return that safe, predictable world where everything will go along okay if we keep just doing what we’ve been doing.
It’s very natural to be confronted by change. After all, change can be immensely sucky. It can make us feel unsafe. It can cause us to worry, to experience all sorts of uncomfortable emotions and to grieve what we have lost.
There is no way we can sugar-coat a pandemic and pretend that the many changes we are currently experiencing are something nice or desirable. We can however ask, is normal really what we want to return to?
There is a great danger to normal. Normal doesn’t challenge our assumptions or force us to think. Instead of being guided by our own values, we can simply be swept along with the crowd and end up far from where we truly want to be. Normal can deprive us of something greater and prevent us from experiencing life in its full richness.
As painful as it may be, change can kick us out of a comfortable rut, where our lives become ruled by routine, societal expectations and limiting self-beliefs.
Right now, our lives are going through a shake-up and it’s not particularly pleasant. Not having normal to cling to can make life feel even more challenging. This is however a challenge we can all rise to. If we are prepared to ask the right questions, we can find ourselves living life on purpose and taking the paths that will lead us where we actually want to be.
Question 1. What is truly important to me?
In normal times, it’s easy to neglect the things which are most important to us. We can get caught up doing all those things we’re told we ‘should’ do and not have any time or energy left for those things we actually care about. We can take loved ones for granted, put aside our passions and forget all about those things which fill us with enthusiasm, energy and life.
This simple sounding question can be quite confronting. When we spend so much time doing what is expected, we may no longer be sure what we truly care about. It’s only by taking the time to closely examine our values, that we can start moving in the direction we want.
Question 2. What do I want to let go of?
Modern life has brought with it a million and one things to weigh us down. Now is a brilliant time to cut some of them loose.
Perhaps you are ready to let go of the pressure to look a certain way, maintain a particular social media presence, or keep up with the Joneses in a mad nuclear status race.
Most of us have old hurts, bad relationships or long-held regrets, that we could do without. We may also have limiting self-beliefs that we could start stepping away from.
In this time of change, it can also be liberating to change your mind. Letting go of old ideas can allow us to make space for new possibilities and to follow an authentic path.
Question 3. How can I better use my time?
Time is life’s only true currency. So, how are you going to spend it?
For many of us, life in lock-down has forced us to shift our regular routines and closely re-examine all the stuff we try to cram into our daily lives. When we do, we may quickly realise not all of that stuff is important, useful or very much fun.
It can be helpful to prioritise those things you care about and make them non-negotiable. Regularly make time for things which fill your cup, rather than routinely putting yourself last on an exhausting ‘to-do’ list.
Question 4. What shouldn’t be normal?
Sometimes it is a great relief when normal is thrown out the window. There are far too many things we do simply because ‘that’s how they have always been done’.
What happens when you reclaim those two hours a day you used to spend battling traffic? What is like to be getting off a zoom call in your lounge room rather than stepping on a red eye flight in another city? Is anyone missing wearing a tie?
It’s taken a pandemic for many ridiculous norms to be changed. In this great shake-up, we can also apply fresh thinking to all sorts of outdated things. When we seek out the positives in change, it can help us to adapt and move forward with optimism and enthusiasm.
Question 5. How can I be kinder to myself?
For many of us, harsh self-criticism and impossible standards are the norm. Enormous effort goes into fulfilling expectations of who we ‘should’ be, what we ‘should’ look like and how successful we ‘should’ be. It can be incredibly liberating to rid ourselves of all these ‘shoulds’ and replace them with some self-kindness.
Self-kindness helps us to become more adaptable and resilient. Instead of worrying about being perfect, we can try new things, fail, learn and grow.
Instead of trying to stoically keep it all together and do it all alone, self-kindness can also allow us to realise that we could use some help and reach out for much needed support.
Question 6. How can I change things for others?
Recently we have seen how poorly societies function when it’s everyone for themselves, as well many wonderful examples of what can be achieved when we look out for one another.
In times like these, simply acting with basic kindness and human decency can have a profound impact. This can take all sorts of forms. It may be checking in on your workmates, offering to pick up some shopping for an elderly neighbour or even just smiling with your eyes whilst wearing a mask.
When we shift the focus from meeting our own needs to thinking about how we can support one another, we can gain direction, renewed purpose and the power of community.
Reach out. We are all in this together.
Embracing change is never easy. Right now, you may be experiencing stress, grief, confusion and fear. Please know that you don’t have to go it alone. Consider reaching out to a close friend, a trusted colleague or perhaps a peer supporter. You may choose to connect in with your Employee Assistance Program or book in a check-up with your GP/Doctor. When you log into Mindarma/RAW Mind Coach you can see a full list of support services provided by your workplace. Remember reaching out for support is never weak, it is always an act of true resilience.