Things are about to change for us in England and the loosening of the lockdown for many people is an exciting thing but for some people, it can seem a scary next step. Our inner minds are always looking for patterns and ways to protect us. This is our primaeval mind; it is amazing and is constantly looking to keep us safe and out of danger. But it can also make mistakes with things, as it can read the wrong messages and so in turn send you the wrong signals back to you because of it. In our primaeval mind, it only sees things in black and white so finding areas of grey or confusion don’t often work out well for this part of our mind. For all of us, we have had to lead a forced, unnatural life where we have been restricted and unable to go out or even meet with our extended family and friends. This for all of us has been a hard and challenging time but for our inner minds, it can be seen as avoidance of things. Avoiding anything sends messages of fear to our inner mind and then our mind sends signals of fear back to us, when we go into those avoidant situations.
Your inner mind doesn’t know the difference between avoiding where the grizzly bears live in case they try to kill you, and having to stay at home to protect ourselves, our loved ones and the country in general. We have had to spend these last few months living abnormally. To start to change and get back to normal, for many people, will be triggering our anxiety. This is because our minds feel unsure about things and when we feel unsure, we start to worry and when we start to worry, we start feeling anxious. If we try and reassure ourselves then this won’t help, it will only make things worse, as our black and white minds will just think if we are secure, then we wouldn’t need to reassure ourselves, so this must mean then that we are unsure and that means unsafe. So, at this time there may be lots of you starting to build-up the worry feelings. Maybe you say to yourself, “Oh no what will I say when I meet with friends. How will they react to me? How will I feel around them? Will I get anxious? Will I feel scared and have to cancel? Maybe I should just not go anyway?”, I am sure you’re getting the gist of these worrying thought patterns. In these moments we are just creating our own inner horror movie which will cause our fear and anxiety to rise. This won’t help make you feel calmer or look forward to starting the process of getting our lives back to normal, it will just make us more avoidant and anxious.
If we give up and not go, we might feel ok for a while but when we plan to go out again this will have just made us feel more anxious, making the next time worse than this time. Also, if you try to make excuses that are not really real, but are just excuses, then our minds won’t believe those either, it will just make us more anxious. Always remember if we don’t fully believe it, our minds won’t either. This being the case we have to find the best ways forward to get ourselves out and back to living our lives calmly and confidently. Try and find ways to take the pressure off yourself, maybe you just pop out first with your partner or close friend so that you know that they understand how you’re feeling. Once you have done that, then try and meet more people and start taking those next steps to normalise going out again.
Doing one big thing and failing or feeling horrendous throughout, won’t help you move forward. It’s much better to take smaller steps and to allow your confidence to start to grow and in turn, that will send those positive messages to your mind and allow your mind to start to feel more safe and secure about things. After you have done things a few times, the messages to your mind will be that all is ok and it’s safe to be doing this. Maybe you can plan this out in your diary, or you can keep a positive diary that you can add all your achievements to. A positive diary is a great tool to help you see how far you have come and to help you reflect on all the good things. As it is quite easy for us to forget things and how far we have come and get stuck with the worries and what-ifs.
It can often help to talk things through with people and let our friends and family know we are feeling this way. You might be pleasantly surprised to find that you are not the only one that feels like this and chatting things through will take the pressure off you. If you know that everyone understands, then you haven’t got that pressure to stay and pretend everything is ok. Without that extra pressure on you, you can feel more relaxed as you approach these situations. It’s not a nice feeling to think we are the only one that feels this way or even just having to put on a brave face, so with knowing everyone has your back, you can relax a bit more with things.
Always remember that practice makes perfect; the more you do, the better you will feel. Little and often helps, don’t plan a massive night out, just pop out for a quick drink and that will be the perfect first steps. Sometimes you could take the pressure off by saying we can go at a time when it might be quieter and have fewer people there. These things are just stepping stones to getting back to normal and the more you do, the more comfortable you will feel. Over time this will also enable you to be able to challenge yourself to do more.
Turn those negatives into positives and make your week a great one. Sara x