Back in May, there was a quote circulating on social media cautioning those of us desperate to ‘get back to normal’ to use the time of lockdown to consider which parts of normal were actually worth rushing back to. Judging from the amount of shares it received, It struck a chord with many people.
As we are now tentatively taking steps to return to some sort of normality (though of course this pandemic is far from over) let’s not lose the silver lining that this horrible dark cloud has given us, namely a unique opportunity to really pause and reflect on our lives and our ‘tolerations’.
Those of us who have been able to slow down from our normally busy lives – however frustrating that may have been times – have been offered this rare chance to think about our lives much more deeply than ever before, as we have been free of many of the day-to-day stresses and distractions that characterised our pre-Covid-19 lives. Whilst for many this forced time of stillness and reflection has brought up unresolved issues from the past – and been quite uncomfortable – for those brave enough to really explore their feelings, it’s offered up some unique insights and given clarity on some things they may have tolerated for too long.
Like the fact that they are unhappy in their relationship. Or their finances are in a muddle. Or that they really hate their job and don’t want to go back after lockdown. Or they are sick and tired of being unwell, or overweight, or giving their power or security or freedom away to someone else – partner, boss, landlord, whoever. Or they have realised they are no longer willing to be patronised, discriminated against or taken advantage of.
How about you? Has something you normally tolerated in your life become much more noticeable during lockdown? And perhaps harder to bear?
Perhaps the thought of returning to your old job fills you with dread? Or have you had to face the fact your relationship with your partner is not what you want any more, or a friendship or business partnership has run its course. Has spending so much time at home forced you to recognise that where you live doesn’t really suit you? Maybe being locked down has given you a chance to avoid people or situations that you have had to tolerate in the past, and been a kind of blessing, and now you are aware you are dreading having to deal with these things or people again.
Or maybe having some free time on your hands has made you realise that your previously busy life left no time for the things that are really important to you, like spending quality time with your children or your friends. Or you realised that in all the busy-ness you had gradually lost touch with the essence of the real you, with all her passions, interests and hobbies.
Turmoil in the world and uncertainty about our overall future has been a constant backdrop to lockdown, which has been very unsettling and distressing at times. While we may feel powerless to change things we are unhappy with on a global or national level, we can make changes in our own lives, which in turn will positively influence those around us in ways we cannot always imagine. It is not selfish to re-fuel your own tank, so to speak, before focussing on the needs of others.
Having had this unique opportunity to pause and reflect, we now have the chance to rewrite the rules that we live our lives by, and perhaps decide to no longer tolerate things in our lives which have caused us heartache, stress, or frustration.
This may involve learning to let go of behaviours that are keeping us stuck and willing to put up with the status quo. Whether it is fear, people pleasing, procrastination, putting other people’s needs and dreams ahead of our own, these are all mindset issues issues that can be worked through enabling you to rebuild your life the way you want it to be going forward. Big changes take time to implement, but we can all begin to make small changes, starting now, and take baby steps towards our goals.
Covid-19 has wrought devastation across the world and continues to do so. But it has given us this gift, this opportunity to step off the merry-go-round and take stock, and be reminded of what really matters.
So how about you, what really matters to you? If you could remove any tolerations from your life without fear of the consequences, or worrying about who you might upset along the way, what would you do? What does your heart long for? What would you like to change about your life? And if not now, then when? You can press the reset button if you choose to. To quote the poet Mary Oliver, “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with the rest of your wild and precious life”?