When You Can’t Go Out, Go Within!
Quarantine Day 22:
This morning I saw the neighbor talking to her cat. It was obvious she thought her cat understood her. I came into my house, told my dog…We laughed a lot!
If ever we needed a reason to laugh it is right now! With dire news dominating the headlines it is easy to get inundated by worry and stress. So, at times like this we need to do everything we can to put the brakes on those negative thought loops by being mindful about how we direct our mental energy.
So, how are you spending your mental energy? Are you in control of your thoughts? Or are your thoughts in control of you?
Well, given that the average person has about 50,000 thoughts a day it is no wonder that when we let our guard down that we can get caught up in excessive worry and rumination. Never has that been more the case than in the midst of a global pandemic. Being mindful of where we direct our mental energy can help us focus our attention on productive thoughts and ideas. This can make all the difference in building our resilience and maintaining a positive mindset even in an environment of high uncertainty.
This brings me to Steven Covey, and Habit #1 from the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Be Proactive.
Proactive people take responsibility for their life – and choose to focus their attention on ALL the things they do have influence over. Reactive people on the other hand focus more of their time and mental energy on things they can’t control or influence. I think Covey really brought this concept home when he described the habit of being proactive with what he calls the Circle of Concern and the Circle of Influence.
Circle of Control vs. Circle of Influence
We have a choice! We can let things within our Circle of Concern dominate our thinking:
- Here I am stuck at home – this takes boredom to another level!
- My fitness club is closed, and my pants are getting tight!
- I may not have a job to go back to! How am I going to make ends meet?
- With all of us home it is hard to keep the house tidy! Arggghhh!!!
- My partner is riding my one frazzled nerve ending!!!
All these concerns sap our mental energy. But worry itself won’t make them go away.
Or we can let things within our Circle of Influence direct our behavior:
- I’m going to learn a new skill or hobby I have not had time to get around to
- I’m going to commit to 30 minutes of exercise 5 days a week.
- I am going to update my resume and do a personal budget.
- I’m going to delegate tasks in the home to help me keep it tidy.
- I’m going to schedule time to have a heart to heart with my partner.
So, if we accept those things in our Circle of Concern as FACT and decide to bring a mindset of action, rather than worry, our Circle of Influence with get larger while our Circle of Concern will get smaller.
Be mindful when you start to feel anxious or overwhelmed and ask yourself: “Am I in my Circle of Concern right now?”
If the answer is yes, decide what you can do to shut down that thought loop and replace it with an action that will move you back into your Circle of Influence.
More posts? Bring it on!