Control the Controllables
Throughout my life I have come to learn that in times of stress or uncertainty the more I can focus on the things I can control the more equipped I am to deal with whatever is in front of me. Essentially to control the controllables. Admittedly, this is sometimes hard to do. As the impacts of this pandemic are felt globally and we adjust to a new “normal” at least for the next several weeks there are things we can control. Obviously exercising prudence and appropriate levels of caution as guided by health officials should go without saying. Appropriately focusing on the good of the whole and protecting those most vulnerable.
But how can we as individuals reframe our perspective to show up as our best selves in the upcoming weeks. To control our internal dialogue and our outward outlook.
Your mindset is one of the most powerful tools in your arsenal. What you believe you create in your life.
“Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t, you’re right” – Henry Ford
Why this matters now is because you are faced with a choice. To approach the upcoming weeks with optimism and a renewed sense of gratitude for all of the blessings currently in our lives OR to focus on the negative and lean into fear. Personally, I have decided the former – it will take work. I will admit when things locally started closing my immediate response was what was I going to do to entertain my toddler at home these next few weeks. I felt stressed out by the challenge. That coupled with the fact I am happiest when I am out and about doing things made me feel stir crazy before it even began. After some reflection I realized that this was actually affording me the opportunity to do something I was always chasing after – spending more time as a family. Was it visiting some of our favorite places or doing a fun new activity, no. But honestly the focus should never have been about WHAT we were doing but the fact we were together, something I try to always remember but know it can be easy to forget.
In the midst of what seemed like every man for himself as grocery stores were emptied and the news reported on fights breaking out over things like toilet paper the compassion began to shine through. Neighbors were posting asking who needed help shopping, supplies or meals. I have seen multiple posts offering grocery store gift cards to those in need. When schools closed individuals and companies stepped up to help those families whose children depended on those school meals. As small businesses and restaurants are forced to close communities are coming together to buy gift cards and strategically plan a take out dinner rotation to offer financial support to these businesses that make our communities unique.
No matter your station in life there will always be those more fortunate then you and those less so. Take a moment to be grateful for all that YOU have, to recognize your blessings. Think about how you can help those that have less and take action.
If you focus on seeing the negatives that will become your reality. If you choose to look for the good, the compassion, the best in humanity I assure you, you will find it. When you find it you will be moved by it and the cycle will continue.
Kindness is not a small act
While your personal mindset will reset your internal compass, your outward attitude is the personification of these decisions. Being kind is a decision, an action you choose. We often think of kindness as something we bestow on others but the reality is kindness starts within. When we show ourselves kindness it is easier for that kindness to grow, to radiate out to others – think of it as a ripple effect.
Now more then ever we need to be kind to ourselves in order to facilitate kindness to others. Kindness often starts within with our internal dialogue, the track we play ourselves in our head day after day. As we adjust our mindset and refocus on a more positive outlook we need to view ourselves in a more positive light as well. Now is the time to give ourselves some grace, to stop benchmarking perfection and aim for happiness. What I suspect this pandemic has highlighted for many of us is a reminder of what is really important. Our loved ones, family, friends, neighbors and ultimately our health.
We can choose to take positives from this situation. We can recalibrate our priorities to align with what matters most to us. We know what these things are but in the hustle of the day to day it is easy to say they matter while prioritizing other things. Use these next few weeks to take a mental inventory of what and who matters in your life. Honor them, appropriately value them, decide to give them the priority they deserve going forward.
The kinder we are to ourselves the more we will have to give to others. We are able to be more present with our families. More patient and more forgiving. It is easier to extend grace to others when you have given it to yourself first. Take care of your physical being. Feed yourself nourishing foods, move your body, sleep. Appreciate yourself and the gifts you bring to this world. Extend forgiveness to yourself and know that perfection is an unattainable goal.
The more kindness you give the more you receive in return. I am a firm believer that the energy you put out into the world will come back to you. Listen to that part of you that feels compelled to act when you see someone in need. Choosing to see those who need help and actively working not to takes the same amount of effort.
Kindness is not a small act. Kindness begets kindness whether we see the direct impacts of our actions or not. Our kindness has the ability to change the trajectory of events for a person, for a series of people, to impact a minute, a day, or a life.
Take care of yourselves and more importantly each other.
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