According to some sources, the fear created by the Australian media contributed to Australian citizens complying immediately with restriction requirements. As you listen to some news sources, we are still hearing the words ‘deadly’, ‘catastrophic’ and ‘killer virus’. Sensationalism or reality? You choose.
Without wanting in any way to minimise the severity of the coronavirus pandemic, we want to explore how a consistent daily negative feed of news can impact our thoughts, our actions (or behaviours) and our outcomes.
Let’s take you through what could be a current scenario by means of a simple model:
1. You hear negative news messages and your thoughts race – “this is terrible, the economy will collapse, we are all going to get infected in a 2nd wave and there is no cure or vaccine”. You think “how will this affect me?, What’s going to happen? How will I cope?” and you believe that this news will severely impact your wellbeing and quality of life
2. You feel insecure, stressed and anxious
3. You talk to other people about this terrible situation and become more stressed or shut yourself away
4. You behave irrationally, lose patience, get angry, lash out
5. You give in to your fear and worry instead of taking action that might be useful in helping you pull through this, you can’t seem to bounce back and relationships are becoming fractured
Let’s try the Shakespeare approach and remove the ‘bad’ or’ negative’ label:-
1. You hear ‘negative’ news messages about something and you think “I wonder how this will this affect me?, I wonder what’s going to happen? I know the media focuses on bad news and it is feeding my fear. Maybe it is as bad as they say, but maybe it isn’t, maybe I’ll struggle, maybe I’ll thrive”
You believe that events, in and of themselves, are neutral, and you can choose how you interpret that event knowing that it is going to affect your mood and your responses, that there is a bigger picture and maybe that things happen for a reason
2. You feel a little unsure, but a bit more in control, curious and a little hopeful. Who knows what could come out of this?
3. You choose to limit your exposure to negative media and you keep things in perspective
4. You give yourself time to adjust, remain calm and decide not to add to the negativity by talking about it with others too much, you choose instead to help others who are struggling
5. You bounce back from your initial feelings of concern, ready to take positive action and relationships become stronger
The Marvel of Maybe
Highly resilient people know where Shakespeare was coming from and actively refrain from labelling situations as good or bad, they just ‘are’. They practise the ‘marvel of maybe’ – “maybe it will be good, maybe it will be bad, maybe it will be nothing, let’s see”.
Taking a neutral position on a situation dampens down the emotional centre of our brain and frees up access to our executive function, so that we can analyse a situation objectively, think more rationally and make better informed decisions.
This simple parable of the Chinese farmer is, in our opinion, an effective way to illustrate the marvel of maybe.
Bringing Hindsight to the Present
Can you recount an experience that, at the time, was ‘bad’, ‘devastating’ or ‘terrible? After a period of time, things began to unfold, and you realised that there was a hidden gift in the challenge? Maybe the event challenged you to take a different direction, learn a new skill, find a more enriching relationship (with yourself or others)?
What if we could bring the gift of hindsight forwards to the present in the form of “I don’t know what the outcome or consequence of this situation will be, but chances are, there lies a gift in the challenge”.
We love this short video that is doing the social media rounds, taking us into the future and looking back at today through the lens of positive consequence
Your Feelings are Real
Each and every one of us is reacting in our own unique way to today’s events. Learning to think neutrally or positively about challenging situations and events takes practice and time. Whatever you are feeling is to be respected, we are just offering a different perspective that could have beneficial outcomes.
Go well, stay safe and get in touch if we can help,
Anne and Clare