Here in England we are in Lockdown 2.0. It’s very different from the first one. Schools are still open. We can get a takeaway coffee and stroll on the beach. We can easily find toilet roll at the supermarket and go for a socially-distanced walk with one friend, and there are even real rumours of a vaccine. But it’s much darker, colder and wetter this time, and while we have figured out ways of doing many things, we also have more knowledge about the impact these restrictions are having. One thing that has been a constant through this time is the uncertainty, and we cannot take that away right now. The truth is we never can, but we put up walls and tie things down and schedule things and pay for things and tell ourselves things to make us feel like we are in control.
Instead, if we can allow the uncertainty, and accept it to be a part of life, we can let go of the effort it takes to want it to be anything else.
Here are things you can try when uncertainty is playing heavily on your heart:
(1) Make sure you are balanced in your imagination. For every dreadful scenario you dream up, make yourself dream up, in the same level of detail, an equally wonderful scenario. This puts both possibilities in your mind, and then shows you that neither is more of a fact than watching a movie.
(2) For every hope you have, consider a possible challenge, and how you would deal with that if it came. This can help build confidence in your capacity to cope, and resilience when those things come towards you. And then return to the hope, and think about how you will feel if that comes to pass.
(3) Every time you get a wave of anxiety about an uncertain future, take a moment to breathe, and make a note of something positive you can do to help yourself right now.
If you are struggling to decide what to do, simply ask, “What is the best action in this moment that will also support my future self?” It might be supporting your immune system with the things you choose to eat. It might be waiting for the fog to clear, and talking to a friend in the meantime. It might be resting. It might be flying into action with a passion you haven’t seen in years. There is no one right answer. But there is a best answer in this moment with the information you have and the words in your heart.
This is an extract from my book We Are in This Together: Finding hope and opportunity in the depths of adversity (available in ebook for just £2.99 or in audiobook read by me)