On my recent Resiliency Roadmap pilot programme I was sharing a number of tools and strategies for changing unhelpful thinking patterns and thought processes.
One of the amazing ladies on the programme said to me:
“But these are just mental constructs, Theresa!”
“Absolutely,” I replied. “Because life is one big mental construct.”
This can be really hard to get your head around, if you’ll pardon the pun!
Using Lockdown as an Example
Take something highly topical such as lockdown.
Are we all being told to stay at home?
Are we all unable to hit a restaurant or a bar right now?
Are we all barred from going abroad on holiday?
But we are each experiencing lockdown in a totally different way because of how we are constructing it in our heads.
I know people who are literally furious about lockdown. Their anger is eating away at them. They can’t believe the government can do this to us and that we are all so compliant.
They see it as a massive infringement of their civil liberties. They talk about living in a police state, not a democracy. Being imprisoned in their own homes. Treated like caged animals or children with no ability to make sensible choices. They are livid.
This language and this narrative mean they are quite literally creating images of police states, prisons and caged animals in their heads. These are the mental constructs they are creating and hence the reality (albeit subjective) that they are living through.
At the other end of the spectrum, I know people who are relatively happy about the lockdown. Perhaps they are on the front line, perhaps they are vulnerable themselves. They might be experiencing fear and anxiety about the virus itself, but they feel relieved that everyone is being asked to stay at home.
They see the government as their protectors and their homes as proverbial castles with the drawbridge up and keep firmly locked against dangerous external forces. They feel more secure in their bubble.
This language and narrative mean they are creating very different images in their mind’s eye and hence different mental constructs in their heads. What I call the movie of the mind.
Lastly there are those in the middle or maybe even the conflicted. People who see lockdown as a necessary evil, who want to stay safe but who are also desperate to get on with their lives, see their friends and family, have a hug, go out socialising and go abroad in the Summer as they usually do.
They will be experiencing mixed emotions but are more likely to be expressing frustration, boredom or apathy rather than anger or fear.
Lockdown is real. But how we perceive it, how we frame it, how we label it, what we tell ourselves about it and hence the language we use to describe it, mean that our experience of living through it is totally different. We are constructing our own reality in our heads.
The beauty of this – once we get our heads around it(!) – is that we can choose to change it.
So I ask again:
How will you choose to construct your post-lockdown life?
If you would like to discuss any of the issues raised in this article, please email email@example.com or call Theresa on +44 (0)7740 030677 to discuss your needs.