Uncertainty, panic, fear and anxiety are at an all-time high and we cannot escape hearing and watching the impacts of covid-19 on our health, societies and economies. Naturally humans are averse to change. So, when normal routines are disrupted and life suddenly becomes unpredicted, we go into panic mode, feel out of control and scramble to try and regain some sense of stability. This results in reactions like watching and reading news obsessively, taking precautions to extremes such as hording food and turning to unhealthy behaviours such as over-eating and drinking to try and cope with our emotions.
However, the truth is that you do have a choice here in how you respond. Are you responding out of fear and uncertainty, solely basing your decision on protecting yourself and your family? This looks like stockpiling and hording food items, hosting small gatherings, going down the back or public park on a nice sunny day? Or are you rising up, focusing on the things you can do and what you can influence? This looks like taking recommended precautions, adapting your lifestyle and focusing on keeping yourself and your family healthy both physically and mentally.
This pandemic has all the ingredients to fuel a external threat-driven mindset. It is only natural because the future is uncertain and unpredictable; both of which is a catalyst for anxiety. People will vary in the way they process uncertainty; some will become motivated into taking-action and others will overestimate the threat, panic and become immobilised. This panic and anxiety changes how you process information and dramatically reduces your ability to make logical, rational decisions. It narrows your focus as your attention is selectively tuned to anything which reinforces your send of feeling uncertain, under threat and vulnerable. This is when you find yourself assuming the worst and projecting only negative outcomes. Having this mindset and outlook will have a big impact on your mental health and you may find yourself developing severe anxiety, panic attacks or turning to food, alcohol or habits such as smoking to try and cope.
Of course, I’m not saying that there aren’t real threats in the world right now or to ignore the impact this is having on our communities. However, exposing yourself to a constant stream of negative information takes a huge psychological toll. Therefore, you do have a choice in how you respond to protect yourself both physically and mentally. This all starts with building the right mindset to help you thrive during this pandemic and come out the other side feeling stronger, not weaker.
External & Internal Locus of Control Mindsets
1. External Locus of Control (ELOC)
People with an ELOC mindset tend to allow things around them, people, situations or events to negatively influence how they feel and behave. They also tend to react to things which they have no control over and look outside of themselves for reasons or explanations to why things happen to them or to explain why they behaved in the way they did.
This pandemic is a prime example of something that happens in our lives, which is completely unexpected and catches us off guard. With an ELOC mindset this would severely impact the types of thoughts, feelings and how you respond. There are many people in the world right now feeling panic, anxiety, trying to predict the future and creating worst case scenarios in their minds. As we all know people have been hording food and drink and of course packets upon packets of toilet roll. The problem with this is, is that panic and fear spreads fast amongst populations, anxiety developed and unhelpful behaviours are quickly copied.
2. Internal Locus of Control- ILOC
People with an ILOC mindset choose to focus only on their own actions and responses to people, situations and things happening around them and took responsibility for how they behave. This helps them to regain control in uncertain situations and get back in the driving seat of their thoughts, feelings and behaviours.
Developing this mindset is absolutely essential to be able to cope with all the uncertainty and challenges we are facing right now. It encourages us to build the self-awareness we need to catch our underlying negative feelings which can easily take control and it also helps keep our minds on the search for solutions, rather than us marinating in the problems we are facing. The only thing we can control in this situation is ourselves; our thoughts, our feelings and how we are choosing to respond to the uncertainty.
An ILOC mindset puts you back in the driving seat. Nobody can take your power, you can only give it away.
Taking action is the mantra that will keep you moving
In any situation where you have a choice or where life is throwing you a curve ball, if you learn to ask yourself; “what is it I can do here?” it opens up the possibility of action. There is nearly always something you can do. Anything more than nothing is something.
The tough situation we are all in now is a prime opportunity to start putting these ILOC principles into action. The next time you face a situation, decision or challenge ask yourself these questions to help you stay positive, focused and in control (ILOC):
· How is this about the situation and not about you?
· Is how I’m interpreting this situation true?
· Is a bad interpretation the only possible one?
· If this was happening to someone else, would it automatically mean the same thing to them?
· What do I fear other people could think about me because of this situation?
· Why doesn’t that actually have to be true?
· What could I gain from this?
· If this had to happen for me to learn something vital from it, what would it be?
Questions like; “where’s the opportunity here?” and the core ILOC question’ “what can I do here now?” help you to keep your mind open to other possibilities of meaning. Keep your mind on the search for solutions, don’t let it keep marinating in the problem.
From today, in any situation you see as a problem or a setback ask yourself:
“what can I do here now? Where is the opportunity here?”
The skill I want to help you cultivate through adopting an ILOC mentality is to be more aware of what is actually happening in the moment, not what your brain is trying to reflexively make of it and choose your actions accordingly. See life as it is in that moment, not the disaster your brain is making it out to be nor how you’d like it to be, then take action.
‘It is what it is’ remember! We are all in this together and we will get through it.
Now what is the best you can make out of this situation we are all in? Where is the opportunity, what are your choices and what can you do here now?
If you are feeling the strain of this pandemic please don’t suffer in silence.
You have a choice over what happens to you during this time and I want you to come out of the other side, healthy and positive about what is to come should you choose to see it in this new way.
Get started today and head to https://bookme.name/Masteryourmind to book a 1:1 free chat.
We will talk through the things you are struggling with and I will give you the support, reassurance and advice you need to stay strong and in control.
In the meantime if you haven’t yet, join my private Facebook community called Women Living Unleashed:
Unlimited support, a community of like-minded women and weekly live therapy and coaching sessions covering all things around food, body image, managing emotions and building self-esteem.
Food and emotional Expert