As the coronavirus restrictions are slowly being lifted, I have noticed a certain restlessness.
Not just because it is unclear how things will work once we start moving around more again, but also because I have enjoyed, and am enjoying, many parts of the lockdown.
I realise I have a privileged position, but maybe you too have found some surprising pleasures in the lockdown.
In a sense, we have been given a unique opportunity to reassess our lives. When we are unable to live our lives as normal and when we feel fear and insecurity, we get up close and personal with all the things that are right and those that are wrong in our lives. It would be a shame to let this opportunity pass us by and just “get back to normal” asap.
Now that we are slowly being able to get our freedom back, I have been asking myself, what is it that I want my new normal to look like?
I am asking these three questions to help me define that; maybe they are helpful for you too.
- What are my intentions?
I know that setting intentions is incredibly powerful to help me keep track of what is important in my life. I fear that once we go back to being busy, it will be easy to lose sight of those things, and I will just get back into the grind. Ensuring I have my intentions clear can prevent me from just going back to “normal” without giving it a second thought.
Before that happens, I am taking time to set my intentions. I ask myself: how do you want to be and what do you prioritize? How do you want to show up in this new world?
Intentions can be a way to find balance, be peaceful, act with courage, or allow yourself to be vulnerable. Whatever it is, make sure it is really important to you. It does not need to be lofty, just find something that suits.
For me, my intention is to be steady and calm. I have found that the lockdown period has shown me (again) that anxiety and fear are not emotions I want to act out of, but I do want to act out of steadiness and calm.
- If I am honest, what differences do I want to see in my life?
I have thought about this period, and what made me feel good and what did not. I have enjoyed alone time, walks, my job, my dog, and nature. What is your list? You might have found that you got a lot of satisfaction being with your family, or maybe not at all. Maybe your job is an energy suck, or you missed your colleagues. Whatever it is, I have found that taking the time to get clear about it really helped me identify what I want to change.
Keep in mind that what you identify might be difficult to come to grips with, and it may require some real changes—and this can feel daunting. It can even feel impossible. What might help is to realise that as soon as we can return to normal, we might submerge ourselves in busy-ness again and bury what we’ve discovered, but do you want to?
Awareness is such power, but it is also scary. Once you are aware of it, you cannot undo that. As I am sure you know, in the long run, making the changes you need to make will only serve you, and those around you, well.
For me, this is a big one. I realized that I want to, and need to, move out of my flat and find a small house with a garden. I need more green and nature in my life. I am going to take this small step by small step. But the decision has been made, and I am going to set it in motion.
- How can I connect to others?
I worry about how to relate to other people now. I hate the idea of keeping distance, of wearing face masks, of being constantly aware of where you are in relation to someone else. Obviously, we will need to keep distance, give each other space, and as such, our relationship to one another will change.
That connection to others, not just our closest family and friends, is incredibly important for my own well-being and for my own tolerance. I have been known to get quite annoyed at people walking too slowly or taking up too much space. I need to connect to the person to not let that reaction take over. I fear that connection to others will be harder, and being tolerant of others might be even more challenging—not just for me, but for everyone.
I am afraid that my fear might take over my actions, and may lead to judgement or worse, and therefore this question is especially important to me, so that I do not let that happen.
I am thinking of simply saying hello, asking how they are—yes, even to complete strangers! Waiting for them to pass even if they give me no space. Watching my judgement, and maybe just saying to myself: they too are doing the best they can. They too are feeling fearful. I do not know their story. I can choose my own behaviour no matter what others do, and that I can control.
One last thing I keep telling myself: be kind. To yourself and to others. Everybody is dealing with this in their own way. I have enjoyed many things during lockdown, but other things have been challenging. I, as everybody, can only make a change from where I am right now. For real change to happen, I have to be bravely honest and vulnerable, at least with myself, about where I am. I will try to be that, as I like being brave and vulnerable, but I will also be kind.
So I tell myself: I am already okay. I am doing the best I can, and I am strong enough to make the changes I want to make.
Okay, I am off to buy some face masks. I wish us all luck in finding our new normal.