“Thoughts are mental energy; they’re the currency that you have to attract what you desire. Learn to stop spending that currency on thoughts you don’t want.” – Wayne Dyer
I Didn’t Plan on This
A lot has changed in a short time. Life, as we know, has taken on a different shape. The routines of normalcy that provided markers to differentiate one day from the other have been uprooted. In short, nobody planned for this. When the pandemic hit, people were traveling, going to school, working, and shopping. We were living our lives. Then it came. In states and countries with stay-at-home orders or curfews, “rush hour” traffic is mostly non-existent. Grocery store aisles are now under a one-way restriction, and mask-wearing is commonplace. What we thought was not possible like homeschooling and remote work is now part of our “new normal.” This is where we are now. And like most people, I am looking forward to going back to normal.
Looking Forward to Going Back
Is this really possible? Will, what we used to call normal be the norm after this passes? Maybe the way the world operates will change forever. Will handshakes become a thing of the past giving way to elbow and foot bumps? (it still feels weird not shaking hands or hugging). If there is anything that this crisis has taught us is that looking forward to going back may not be an option anymore. While I believe that some sort of normalcy will resume, life will not altogether be like it was.
At the beginning of the year, no one anticipated life as we are living it. The turn of a new decade came choke-full with hopes, goals, and dreams. And it began with everyone talking about seeing clearly or having 20/20 vision. Then seemingly out of nowhere, this crisis blurred everything. It felt like a knock-out punch in the face of all we were looking forward to. Most of us have been left wondering, What now? But even in this extended bout against the COVID-19 heavyweight, I have cause to believe that better is on the horizon. With that in mind, where do we go from here?
As plans are being drummed up for re-opening in various places, I will share a few pointers this month on how you can move on from where you are. Here is a roadmap charting this month’s course:
- Think about what you are thinking about (today’s post)
- Strengthen Your Core (coming May 14th)
- Work Your Land (coming May 21st)
- Locate your Hot Spots (coming May 28th)
Let’s begin by taking a trip into your thought life.
Think About What You Are Thinking About
Thinking or assuming the worst is one of the biggest mental traps we can fall into right now. The alarming data mixed with twenty-four hours of accessibility to the news is the cheese for this snare. While most of us are privy to the physical toll of the crisis, I wonder whether the mental toll exacted is much higher and less visible. There is a constant assault of negative news on our minds.
A Sinkhole of Thought
Now the data is real, but it need not be the running theme in your mind. Remember, whatever dominates your mind, runs your life. As I was wiping down groceries I bought from the store a few days ago, a series of thoughts barged into my mind in question form, “Did I wipe this down properly? Who else touched this? Did I really need to buy this? Maybe going to the store was a bad idea.” And then I sneezed and sank deeper into this sinkhole of negative thoughts. I did pull myself out, but it was a reminder of how quickly worst-case scenario thinking happens.
Worst Case Scenario Thinking
Most of the time, we don’t get the time to consider what is growing in the garden of our thoughts. Our thoughts have a lot to do with what our imagination creates. And worst-case scenario thinking makes our imagination produce low-quality images regarding life. Another output of the worst-case scenario is the futile thought, “Who is to blame for this?” Stigmatization, suspicion, and finger-pointing are often the result of this. If we did a cost-benefit analysis of such thoughts, we realize they are fruitless at a time when a unified front is the best weapon.
What should we be thinking about if we are to move on from here? The answer does not lie in the best case scenario thinking either. That can lead to false positives, which can be just as dangerous as the worst-case scenario. Beyond the worst and best case scenario spectrum is what’s possible. And this is the thinking that will help in these times.
Knowing what’s happening around is necessary for decision making. Reality eliminates blind spots in our minds. We see the data for what it is. By coming to terms with the reality we can engage our thinking in what’s possible.
The vein of what’s possible helps us maintain faith in the face of difficult facts. Brene Brown calls it gritty faith and gritty facts. We become less impulsive and more intentional.
Most organizations that assessed remote work as improbable are now seeing that it is possible. Churches that had to turn to online streaming to continue holding services have seen an increase in their reach. People who would never have stepped into a physical location have access to the gospel, and lives are being changed. I didn’t think it was possible to do homeschooling, but it is happening in our home. Maybe an idea that seemed ridiculous at the beginning of the year is now as important as ever and more so ripe for accomplishment.
A crisis has a way of stretching the boundaries of what’s possible and removing the barriers of entry into new opportunities. Commonplace phrases such as, “that’s not how we do it” or “we’ve never done it that way” have been rendered irrelevant. When we see what’s possible because of a crisis, going back to exactly the way things were may not be in our best interest. We should look forward to getting better, not going back. To do this, we must constantly ask, “What’s possible now?”
Final thought: We are the guardians of our minds. The galaxy of our thoughts may be invaded with negative thoughts from time to time. But as we take an intermission to think about what we are thinking about, we can uproot the weeds of worst-case scenarios and fertilize the thoughts of what’s possible.
Keep on Keeping on!