The world is an unpredictable place, it always has been. However, the recent experience of the COVID-19 pandemic has undoubtedly heightened this experience for us humans.
So how do we stay positive?
This might sound counter intuitive, but one strategy is to let yourself go with your thoughts (to a point), with the aim of identifying: what is the worst possible outcome? Once you have identified this, pause and think about the probability of this occurring (if possible, do a bit of a google search on this for yourself), and then search for the positives.
Now for a totally un-COVID-19 related example:
I like to go diving, but I’m scared of sharks. When I go diving, I see sharks, and I enjoy it. However, when it’s coming up to the experience, I lose sleep, and I have experienced nightmares about sharks. Why? My identified worst possible outcome is that I will see a shark, get a fright, and take a big breath of air, which will cause me to rocket towards the surface and in turn be chased by the shark who will think I am food.
So, how realistic is this? Not. A report by the Divers Alert Network Asia-Pacific Foundation and Department of Public Health and Preventative Medication at Monash University on fatal shark attacks on divers in Australia from 1960-2017 states that 8 scuba divers have lost their lives during this time. And as my recent diving instructor said, “if that happened you would be the luckiest person I have ever met”.
Now for the positives:
If I was to be eaten by a shark…I most likely wouldn’t see it coming; I may not die, I would be in the news; I would have not given into my fear; I would still have discovered the world of diving and LOVED it. My family knows that I would not want the shark to be harmed (as I say this before each dive and it is important to me), oh, and I’d be the luckiest person my instructor had ever met!
So, how does engaging in this process help you to stay positive?
Sometimes to stay positive we have to explore the negative, and weigh them up, which in turn can help reframe and provide a sense of peace. Now, I’m not going to force you to go through the process, but maybe next time you find yourself feeling that sense of unpredictability creeping in. Pause and ask yourself “what is the worst that could happen?” and let yourself go through the process of weighing it up, and paying attention and noticing if it works for you.
In line with looking for the positives is the ability to tap into your sense of humour. Sometimes there is two options to laugh or to cry (which is sometimes also expressed as anger or frustration). Choosing to laugh will release endorphins that promotes an overall sense of wellbeing.
Other ways to promote wellbeing include reaching out to a friend, or a family member, make contact and connect. COVID-19 times might be a little harder and there might be a few more spanners in the works, however, you can give yourself permission to PAUSE and tap into how you’re feeling, acknowledge this, and then choose how you’re going to respond. Remember you are never alone.