For many people, you have some extra time on your hands, have had your hours reduced, been furloughed or simply working from home; saving your commuting time.
Herein lies where you will find your opportunity if you wish to take it. It’s simple physics; every action has an equal and opposite reaction, for all the bad, there has to be good to come out of this.
The question – do you want to take your share of the good?
Do you want someone else to have your share?
Mental health issues, and depression, have increased during the lockdown. In some ways, that is an obvious reaction. But the ‘why’ may not be for the reasons you think. Let me explain why, simply:
My depression, even though it wasn’t good at the time, was the best thing that ever happened to me. I learned so much going through it that it has made me a stronger, better, person.
If you go to the gym and keep lifting the same light weights, you won’t get any stronger. It is hard to appreciate the warmth of summer without the cold of the winter. If it wasn’t for my negative experiences, my life would not be as fulfilled; and I wouldn’t be feeling the amount of gratitude for what I have today.
Life isn’t about being happy, it is about being happier and enjoying it more. In the book, ‘Happier’ Tal Ben-Shahar tells the story about training for a big event. He dreamed about winning, which gave him the motivation to train hard. He went on to win and afterward, he felt deflated. You see; life isn’t about the destination. It is the journey that counts.
Happiness is about the person you become on the way to your goals. It’s about becoming a better version of yourself. To do this we also have to address the dark sides or the shadow self. This is where the real growth happens.
Most of us have addictions of sorts to a greater or lesser degree. Addictions are effectively numbing the brain.
Whilst an addiction numbs the ‘negative’ emotions (away from motivation) it also numbs the positive emotions (towards motivation). These addictions can range from drugs, alcohol, shopping, watching too much TV or spending too much time on social media. I think this should be renamed to anti-social media as it is a truer reflection of what it is (yeah, I know the irony, seeing as I am writing this for social media lol!).
Distracting and numbing yourself can be forms of escapism from your deep inner issues; keeping your shadow self hidden from others and often yourself. With the lockdown and less work, it has been harder to escape these ‘away from’ motivators or ‘negative’ emotions.
There was an experiment with rats where they were given 2 water bottles and 1 of them had cocaine added to it. All the rats preferred the water with cocaine and kept drinking it and eventually overdosed on it.
Experiment 2: they created a rat utopia with the same 2 bottles, all the rats tasted the cocaine water but none went back for more.
Experiment 3: a group of rats started in the 1st cage where they loved the cocaine, they were then moved to the utopia cage. In this cage they didn’t overdose, in fact, they rarely drank from the bottle with cocaine.
Unlike the rats, you can escape from your cage as it is only in your imagination, (which has nothing to do with the physical constraints of lockdown) and part of doing this is confronting the shadow self and using it for good. Using your negative story to propel you away from it, instead of numbing and distracting yourself. This will create the motivation to start creating your utopia and in turn giving you a better story.
In NLP we talk about ‘enough is enough’ patterns people go through and these are the turning points in peoples lives. It is the moment when people get a strong ‘away from motivation’ (negative emotions) creating a time to change who they are, for the better.
The problem with only using ‘away from motivators’, the further away you get from the issue the less motivation you will have. Eg ‘I don’t want to be fat’, means you start eating healthier & exercising. This is why a lot of people yoyo up and down in weight: they get thin enough that they feel better about themselves and then stop doing what was working and slip back into old eating patterns.
Now if you add ‘towards motivations’ to the mix at the same time you create a propulsion system which is like sending you off like a rocket towards a better life. Then the further away you get the easier it becomes.
This is the Pareto Principle in practice, better known as the 80 / 20 rule. This means when a rocket is going to outer space, it uses around 80% of its fuel in the first 20% on lift-off. The closer it gets to orbit the less fuel it needs as the gravitational pull gets weaker the further away from the earth you get.
If you’re going to have lasting change in your life, you must also raise your standards. Someone who gets into shape, and plans to stay there, need to raise their standards. They very quickly become aware if they put on a pound or two and do something about it straight away – before they become overweight. The earlier we create these interventions, the easier it is to remedy. Unfortunately, too many people leave it too long, waiting until it gets bad enough that they have to change. This means it can become more difficult to recover or make changes as the gravitational pull is stronger.
To successfully achieve goals you also need to address your limiting beliefs, such as ‘not feeling loved’, ‘not being good enough’, ‘not worthy’ or ‘don’t deserve it’ etc.
We have approximately 100 billion individual nerve cells and your conscious mind holds around 7 +/- 2 pieces of information. If you are dyslexic like me, it is on the lower end of that range. For your mind to process all this information, it deletes, distorts, and generalises these billions of pieces of information, based on your belief systems.
This means that if you believe that everyone hates you – you will either delete all the times’ people are kind to you or distort it into something else (turn a ‘positive’ deed into a ‘negative’).
Example; they are only doing that because they want something from you. In turn, your behaviours may cause people not to like you. So it can become self-fulfilling.
These beliefs create the story you tell yourself; rather than the objective reality. It was your story that was holding you back rather than what is really happening around you.
In part 3 we go into how belief systems are created, work and how to start taking control of them.