You can choose how you think about this situation

After the first lecture of my MA in Coaching and Mentoring in September, I seriously questioned my judgement. I was genuinely concerned about my ability to make sound decisions, why had I decided to add to my already overloaded life? I have done an MA before and it was hell on earth to get through, why was I doing this to myself again?

After the week we have all just had, my decision to study was absolutely bang on. I am so grateful that I did make the decision and that I stuck with it. I can now see it was one of the best decisions I have ever made. The support from the amazingly inspirational people at Uni this week has been phenomenal. In addition, the knowledge I have gained in such a short space of time has got me through a tough week and will continue to get me through the difficulties of the coming weeks. So, I was keen to share with you all the main learning that is getting me through – Existentialism (Viktor Frankl).

We are free to choose how we think and feel about a situation

Existentialism – Viktor Frankl

Existentialism suggests that life is a constant process of change and transformation, we are in constant flux. We have choice, freedom, responsibility and self-determination about how we think and deal with the experiences of life.

The freedom to choose how I think about the current situation we find ourselves in (Corona virus) is what is getting me through. I have been hit by huge waves of panic this week, where I could have easily curled up and sobbed. But I stopped myself from spiralling into negative thoughts because I know that wouldn’t serve me well during this time. I recognised that I needed to change how I am choosing to view this situation. I have the ability to look at this situation and determine how I want to think, behave and take action. This is a great opportunity to change our ways of working to provide greater flexibility away from the 9-5, it is time with my daughter that I wouldn’t otherwise get, it is a time for community, kindness and recognition of key jobs we have taken for granted in the NHS, retail, manufacturing, delivery drivers etc… It is time to look at how we can adapt and turn our talents to different things, opening opportunities to a global community – i.e. the Body Coach (Joe Wicks) is going to be the world’s PE Teacher!

Crisis are times that old patterns are revisited and change for the better is initiated. The disaster you are trying to avoid can be a blessing in disguise.

Corey (2017)

In times of crisis make choices on how to proceed and how to bring new order to your life

Corey (2017)

We have a choice about how we make sense of what is happening to us. I know we are facing difficult times, job loses, financial difficulties and the loss of loved ones. We can’t control these things, but we are free to choose how we think about it. We can choose how we interpret our experiences and we can make a choice about what action we take and how we behave.

Create meaning from the situations we find ourselves in. If you have a ‘why’ to live your life by, you can bear any ‘how’

To look at this another way, my amazing colleague and friend read an article Building an ethical career in ‘The Harvard Business Review’ (Jan – Feb 2020) . She has spoken to me a lot about it as it really struck a cord with her. The area that resonated with me was David Brooks CV virtues (skills, ability and accomplishments that you can put on your CV such as ‘increased ROI by 10% on multi million dollar project’) and Eulogy virtues (things people praise you for after you’ve died, such as being a loyal friend, kind and a hard worker). CV virtues tend to relate to what you’ve done for yourself, whereas Eulogy virtues relate to the person you are and what you have done for others.

This got me thinking, how can we choose to behave and think in a way that is congruent with our ‘Eulogy virtues’ during this time – What type of person do I want to be during this time? What do I want to do to help others?

The HBR article suggests you ask yourself:

What eulogy virtues are you trying to develop?

What do you want to be remembered for?

What do you want to contribute?

Human life begins at the far end of despair. Life is difficult, with many conflicts and challenges but without these life would not be interesting. Joy cannot be experienced without facing despair and anxiety of life.

Rollo May

Life is difficult but we can make our own meaning, we have the power to decide how we are going to think about this situation and we can choose how we act. You are responsible for your decisions.

Ask yourself the following:

How do you feel about this situation?

What do you want to do about the situation?

What choices do you have?

What can you control?

What have you done?

What could you do?

What are the consequences of your choices?

What actions are you going to take to deal with the situation?

If you haven’t already I encourage you to read my previous blog on change, there are some really useful questions and models on how to deal with change that you might also find helpful.

In order to grow we need to be able to tolerate uncertainty and with this comes a level of anxiety which we need to learn to live with, rather than extinguish. That being said, if your anxiety is starting to get the best of you or your thoughts have spiralled please reach out for support. A great resource is Shout – text 85258 or call the Samaritans on 116 123

Take Care and Do Be Kind and True – much love to you all Kathryn x