Recently I have had one crisis on top off another in the home and in relationships. To top it all off a very dear friend passed away unexpectedly. It is hard to cope with. Especially when living alone and no one immediately to talk with. I had a major leak in the bathroom rendering it unusable. So I have been busy putting things right again.
One problem is that coupled individuals do not realise the issues that singles face day by day. Its’ not aloneness that is the issue, its the companionship and bouncing ideas off someone you trust. Its helping each other when stuff goes haywire in bathrooms for instance!
In Wales UK, in this past year we have experienced nothing but lockdowns, due to COVID-19. I have been living a lock-down life since March 2020. However, we are told by the UK government that we can not have total freedom of movement until the end of June 2021. That’s a very long time to live a solitary life when you are accustomed to being very social. It’s a house hold arrest- at least it feels like it.
I have said things to people that I regret. But few understand the pressure that the lock downs has put not only myself, but not just on me- but for many others who will feel its effects for years to come.
I thank God for my faith In Jesus Christ, as there would be no purpose or meaning to life otherwise- for me at least. All my work is weekly public speaking and face to face interaction. COVID has taken that away- and in my emotions and thinking, things will never be the same again.
I am sure that you can relate to my lamination to some measure . The problem is, Living on my own during such times, can cause abject loneliness and even depression.
It seems to me, that the pressure that the lockdowns have caused, bring out the worst or the best in people and you discover who your really are. You also discover who your friends are.
Do people regularly phone you to see how you are, or are you the one who must chase them all the time? Do you feel that when you do speak to your friends or family that the telephone conversation is all about them, and when you try to share, they divert the conversation straight back to themselves? During lockdown we feel that our choices have been taken away, our social circle has been diminished or closed, while feeling that our relationships will never regain the traction they once had.
As devastating as all this, we try to face the reality of what our friendships might really be. Perhaps facing the instability of our social circle and perhaps our family life as well, we see things as they really are. And possibly for the first time, we realise that we are not as strong as we thought we were. Perhaps we are having a self awareness reality check. One of my recent blogs is about resilience in the face of burn out- check that out it will encourage you!
When life goes well, we can be fooled into thinking that we are invincible and there are no changes to be made. Perhaps good times has given us a false sense of security, propping us up, giving us a distorted view of our situation and of who we really are and what we should be.
The advantages of having absolutely everything stripped away, is that we come face-to-face with ourselves. We become self aware. Our lifestyle choices are virtually gone. We are either at the mercy of the tumult of our emotions, or at the mercy of God’s grace.
The Good News!
You may feel that lock down has taken away All your choices possessing no choice in anything at all. This is not true, it is only your perception of things, but not the reality. Even in lockdown, we do have choices. Below I’ve listed some choices that I have come face-to-face with over the past 10 months and maybe they are the same or similar choices that you had during the course of this pandemic.
1. Allow myself to get down were I just stay in my PJs or bed.
2. Eat my way through the lockdown.
3. Watch TV 24/7 and let go of all my exercise routine.
4. Discover new vision and goals.
5. Set new projects to accomplish goals.
6. Take Action on new project
7. Learn more about well-being and fitness and implemented it into my day.
8. Planning for a lock down future in this and be the foreseeable future so I may be productive and successful.
9. Contact my friends and family even when they do not take the initiative to do so.
10. Listen intensely and carefully to the problems of my friends and families even when I am not heard.
Every day when we swing our legs out of our bed and place them firmly on the floor the power of choice begins. We have the power to choose whether we will have an unproductive day, or just another wasted day in lock down; or one that will be full of surprises, twists and turns but by the end of it will be productive in some way.
As I sit on the side of my bed contemplating on this, I have a choice of what my mood will be. I still struggle at times with my mood controlling me instead of me controlling them.
Many years ago, I allowed my emotions to determine how I felt, which influenced every decision I made, influenced every attitude. I would try to relieve the turmoil with negative, unhealthy, and unhelpful practices. Over the years I have learnt that my thoughts are not me, they are things. Thoughts are things that I will allow or disallow into the realms of my thinking.
Dr Andrew Huberman is a neuroscientist, who recently discovered that behaviours have a direct bearing upon our thoughts and not the other way round. The research shows that when we try to gather our thoughts it’s the same as herding cats. Once we allow negative thoughts access, they take on a life of their own. I have come to the conclusion that negative thoughts are like a virus that by nature multiplies and mutates so you never can really get a handle upon it. And before you know it, these thoughts are dictating your emotions, and your overall behaviours and your life.
Here the good news story – address your behaviour first. If you disregard the negative thoughts, and take positive action, you will be in control of your day. By being aware of your behaviours, we will be better able to control what happens in your day. You can learn how your behaviours dictate our thoughts, and your thoughts will dictate your feelings and mood.
Because I’m a highly sensitive person, I consider that my moods, and feelings are likened to a virus. We know so well during this pandemic, a virus spreads, mutates, while taking hold of the body causing havoc. My emotions can do this too if I allow them. Being aware of it, is more than half the battle, because then I can do something about it. When I am in control of my day, I am happier and content. I cannot control the course of the pandemic, but I can control my day, and therefore my future. As Jim Rohan once said, ‘either let the day run you, or you run your day’.
Getting back to my list of 10 points. There were times where I slipped into points 1 – 3. I soon became frustrated, knowing that if I allowed myself to slide deep into the pit of despair, it would be a long climb – a very long climb indeed to get out that hole. Unless somebody let down a ladder, I would stay in that pit a very long time. Living alone, you have less of a chance of somebody throwing you a ladder to rescue you. So, it’s up to you to encourage yourself to find positive ways forward. I became more aware of my negative emotions and thoughts and stopped the process as I began to slide into the pit of despair and despondency. I jacked my foot up, getting leverage, I hauled myself out before I lost sight of the top. Then I would prayerfully, and intentionally, set about engaging with points 4. – 10.
The scientist tells us that our heightened emotions is something that motivates while propelling us forward. I reflected upon this and knew this to be true because that’s exactly how I accomplished getting my Master of Arts degree in counselling and coaching. Being a high percentile adult dyslexic, and at the time in my mid-50s, the thoughts of achieving an advanced academic level was far removed from me. However, I knew exactly what God had called me to, I wanted to fulfil that, and my university studies was part of Gods plan for me. It was not the love of helping people or even pure faith that propelled me forward – it was anger. At the time, I had people around me who told me that I don’t need to study, others said I can’t do it as I’m not smart enough, while others said it will be a waste of time and money, particularly at my age. There were many other things that was said that proved to be very hurtful and caused me to be so angry that I wanted to rise up and show them. I wanted to show myself, and my God that I could do it. I felt that the God given call upon my life would enable me to go forward in Gods ability no matter how tough things got. I internalised my anger and put it to good use, and over the course of four years, I earned a Master of Arts with a merit.
Now, here, during lockdown I contemplated this deeply. I knew I needed to get my emotions heightened to be able to propel myself forward. Because emotions dictate behaviour and behaviours dictate my thoughts. But I don’t want to be angry to so it. So at the beginning of each day, I spend time in prayer and reading the Bible, and decide to harness any feelings of emotion good or bad, and direct them as fuel to accomplish my projects.
If we look to favourable circumstances or a special somebody or even something to make you happy and content, you make a huge mistake. If you solely rely upon others, you are affected by their whims and fancies and be left disappointed. If you reply on a favourable circumstance, you will find yourself in a precarious position because circumstances can change or disappear altogether.
Happiness comes from deep within us when we know that God loves us through Christ. When we know that our sins are forgiven, washed whiter than snow.
Deep happiness and contentment come when we are in close relationship with God through Christ. The Holy Spirit of comfort is given to us to walk in us and beside us. If we rely upon God who is the Eternal Now, we find true happiness and profound contentment, even in the middle of our struggles.
During lockdown, although a lot went south, however I reinvented myself by setting goals and learnt how actually to set projects and accomplish them. Within six months, I had written and published two books, built two websites, and now learning to maintain them. I have done and learnt new things I thought I would never do, although it was really hard. My goal is to create a successful online community dealing with Christian lifestyle issues and wellness.
Nowhere in the Bible does it tell us that God will build his Kingdom independently of us. Through the stories of the Old Testament and Jesus teachings, it is clear that we are co-workers with Christ. In other words, we work with God and God works with us. God does not work independently of us and we do not work independently of God. We can have all the dreams, visions, and mission statements enough to pack out a football field. But It is not going to do you or me a scrap of good unless we take action; unless we move forward, unless we bite the bullet and allow God the Holy Spirit to guide us into brand new realms of our walk with Christ. All the learning and all the abilities and even all the support in the world is not going to do us any good unless we take action.
I remember preaching many years ago in a country Church in Suffolk UK, when afterwards a PhD student approached me. She said that she felt so overwhelmed with her work that she didn’t know what to do. She was researching the effects of using mobile phones has upon the brain. To further her research and to complete her thesis she was accepted as an intern at one of the universities in the USA. She asked me to pray for her and I did. Then I felt a leading of God and advised her via a word of knowledge that the Lord spoke to my heart. I was to tell her these few short words – How do you eat an elephant? Mouthful by mouthful!
The Lord said to her, through me that ‘as you take one step and accomplish that, then you can take another step and accomplish that, then you take another step, one step at a time.
Try not to look ahead too far ahead because Jesus says, give no thought for tomorrow because tomorrow is enough trouble of its own. Instead, just look far ahead enough where you can see where your foot is going to land upon the ground and deal with that. In the other words – live mindfully in the moment. Then over time, you will find you have achieved your goals.
Don’t Give Up!
Please – please don’t give up, but look to God for your strength and hope for a better future through Jesus Christ. As you seek God, he will give you a new vision and a new mission or renew an old one, and the desire to fulfil it.
Tomorrow morning, as you swing your legs over the side of your bed and rest your feet upon the floor, make positive choices. Take positive action then and there. Ignore the familiar doubts and fears that whirl about in your head. Remember you are not your thoughts. You can choose what to do that day and what you want to accomplish. You will be able to recover from any distraction and get on with what you need to be doing.
My Friend, You are special person, and the world needs your gifts, abilities, your knowledge, and experience. Don’t worry about what others are doing or not doing. I encourage to make a commitment to yourself and to God to learn things new. To learn how your behaviours can rule your negative thoughts. Learning new things each and every day, challenges me and often times frustrates me reducing my to tears. But struggle is part of the process of achievement.
Remember, you can do all things you Christ who strengthens you. With every breath, every moment that I live, I want this day to count for something in the Kingdom of God. So be blessed my friend during this time of awful lockdown. Look square into the face of loss and despair in name of Jesus Christ our Lord and Saviour and go forward in victory!
I am in the process of writing my new book about Holistic Living, which features Mindfulness and issues around mental health. It will be published and made available to you later in the year – so keep a lookout for that!
If you struggle to make self-care a priority or do not know how to start your mindfulness journey, check out my new course, which will be available in the Summer of 2021- subscribe free to this blog to get updates on this!
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Paula Rose Parish