Quarantine? Self – Isolation? I like the word solitude better.
These unprecedented times have come as a great shock to us all, this is a time where all that of the external world has been placed on hold, all anxieties about the future have truly become unknown. We must maintain ‘social distancing’ and ‘isolate’ from everyone for our own and others safety.
There comes a massive blessing with this, my father said to me the other day “These times are huge opportunity to really focus on what you want to do, whether it’s your hobbies or interests, otherwise you’ll find the days bleeding away from lounging around all day”.
This is an opportunity to let go of all attachments outside of yourself. Embrace the present moment and venture into yourself. Gratitude will allow you to let go of that which is not in your control. You cannot control this international pandemic, you cannot control what is going to happen tomorrow, you cannot control gyms being closed, you cannot control shopping centres and restaurants being closed. The only thing you have control over is yourself. This include your well – being through the mind, body, heart, and soul. So, detach from fearing the unknown, stressing over uncertain outcomes and from that which you cannot control.
Counting your blessings will make your vision clearer
Gratitude will remove the clouds to the present moment. Once you are aligned, you will be better equipped to move forward with control over that which is within your capacity.
One of the mornings when making my coffee, upon reflection, I realised I was heading into a spiral with my health, from poor decisions when it came to eat to not working out at all. Internally my mind was just full of negative self-talk like “I’m fat” and “I look disgusting” just on constant repeat, which I noticed had started to impact my mental and emotional well – being. Old insecurities were screaming to have their voices heard, the feeling of being overweight, lazy, and unhealthy was starting to come back.
For me, the gym was an anchor for everything, a place to just go wind down, shut off from everything and just release all negative energy I was holding onto. I had stopped my daily meditation of counting my blessings every morning, slept for hours meaninglessly, ate foods that made me feel worse, stopped reading and writing, as well as that for the first part of this lock – down I spent majority of it in my room, leading to me become lazier and lazier as the days passed, thus leading to my ‘days bleeding away’. I had stopped making decisions which delayed my gratification, stimulated my mind, or even made me feel good. Writing became one of my outlets for all my emotions, ideas, concepts and thoughts and numerous things including about myself . Throughout this time, I hadn’t even spent much of it with my family whom I live with, even when they expressed their concerns about how I was and the poor decisions I was making, I hadn’t realised at first until reflecting that morning myself.
So, in all of this where does counting your blessings come in? After pondering that morning every day after I started to count my blessings, being grateful for the clothes I wore that day, to the locks of hair on my head to being grateful I am in a home where there is no harm or stress coming my way. With my health and physical body, I was grateful for being able to breathe, stretch, move, the hairs on my arm, from the smallest to the biggest things all of which just to remind myself daily how blessed I am, I re and remove clouds of negative self-talk. So once everything became calmer and clearer in what was an internal tsunami of thoughts and emotions I went back to my daily choices of meditating, reading, writing and I started to workout at home. On top of that I decided to work on things which I may have procrastinated over, for example I started writing a script and planning a story with hopes I will tell it once this whole pandemic is over.
I realised my negative self-talk started to become a lot more positive, there was no ponderance over the past, who I was or how I was in the past, all I know there is just me here right now in this moment, the next step is a decision away, the power is always within me to do what I want.
Now looking back, nothing terrible had directly occurred to me there were no external stresses but it reminded me of the power of counting your blessings daily, the delayed gratification that comes from habitual decisions that benefit me now and the future. Not everyday is a day with high motivation but its those decisions that allow me to keep things aligned, own my gratitude, and own my decisions.
My key takeaways from these past few weeks…
“You have power over your mind, not outside events. Realise this and you will find strength” – Marcus Aurelius
It is pointless to stress over that which is not in our control, however there are numerous things that are. You have power over yourself always, the power to change the perspective, to be an ultimate optimist and take treasure from any situation life throws at you. Below I will break down my takeaways through the mind, body, heart, and soul.
The mind is such a powerful tool, from perspectives to the words we tell ourselves. As mentioned above by the late and great philosopher Marcus Aurelius “You have power over your mind…”. To me this is taking ownership of your perspective over a matter, to see the opportunities that come from it or easily resorting to pessimistic ways. Knowledge is endless, there is so much to learn and take from those ahead of us on this path called life. What I feed to the mind is in my control, from the books I read to what I watch to what I listen to. Learning is a passion which I hope to the grave, on a regular basis learning from experts and masters of their crafts tames my ego and reminds me I know nothing and that there is always so much more to learn.
Physical activity or exercise is not just about ‘looking good’, its time you give to yourself to push your physical boundaries which requires mental fortitude. For myself working out, seeking to be better each workout is so advantageous to me mentally and emotionally. Being healthy physically aids focus, willpower, and perseverance. How? Pushing myself each time whether it’s doing an extra rep or new exercise isn’t comforting by no means, but I know that boundary being broken down each time will come to fruition, it’s not supposed to be comfortable but neither is growth. Life is such we carry negative energy, quite often that we are not even aware of, that space allows me to release that. Find your physical outlet, push yourself out of the comfort zone each time. Whatever the outlet will be become from your arsenal that delays your gratification.
Allowing myself to really feel through my emotions and coming to an understanding of what it is I am going through is something I have learnt over the years. Now that the external world has been placed on hold, these past few weeks has been a time for me to really reflect, process emotions which I have not been able to. What you feel is important to you, so really feel through it, your emotions are not always going to rationally make sense and that is perfectly fine. The space to express myself with loved ones is important, a space to be vulnerable and just be heard, or have a mirror held up to me to show what is reality makes me feel as though I have offloaded a heavy backpack which I have carried for a long time.
The ritual of counting my blessings daily has over time even made me find the joy and happiness in the smallest of things, all of which accumulate together providing me calmness and peace internally, as mentioned before it removes all clouds of anxiety of an unknown future and let go of that which has already happened. Stressing over that which you have no power or control over isn’t suffice for your well being, so pause, question: ‘What is in my control? What is the next step?’ Gratitude can be found in anything. The current situation is not ideal, but what blessings can you take from it? Count them daily and habitually, thus over time you will find a paradigm shift in your thinking. I realised with myself stressing over 101 things to do prevents me from seeing what the next step looks like, thus meaning my end goal isn’t clear, so having a clear vision of what the end looks like, then taking smalls steps at time to reach it. Stop worrying about next week, next month or next year, all you have is the present moment, realise this and you will envision the next move.
Growth comes from pausing, reflection of where you currently and then ruthlessly taking the next step.