How celebrating yourself can help ease you back into post-lockdown life
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I’m writing this on St Patrick’s Day, which I always love because spring is just around the corner, and in normal times it gives us a good excuse for a party!
This year, I’ve been home alone of course, but have enjoyed some Irish music on the radio and read various items about the saint himself in the papers and on social media.
Something I saw, suggested that as a young and holy man, Patrick felt ‘the call’ to travel to Ireland and convert the people, but was reluctant to go because he felt he wasn’t good or clever enough.
Now, we can’t possibly establish for sure what Patrick’s state of mind was in 432 AD.
However, he might well have been anxious. After all, new beginnings are daunting.
Yet, he set sail for the Emerald Isle and never looked back. In fact, he’s almost certainly the most celebrated Patron Saint in the world.
This might be something you’d like to remember as we emerge from the clutches of Covid-19.
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I say this because there’s a great deal of anxiety in the air.
Certainly, every one of my current coaching clients – and they range in age from 17 to 83 – are fearful about how they’re going to cope once lockdown is finally over.
They worry about whether they’ll be as sharp-witted as their colleagues, or whether they might seem slower or older than they were.
And if they’ve always been shy, they’re concerned that seeing crowds of people will be frightening, or that everyone else will adapt quicker than them to post-pandemic living.
Some of you may also be experiencing these negative thoughts, so here are a couple of strategies that might help.
Try writing a list of 50 things you like about yourself.
If you’ve lost confidence over the past year, and very many people have, this may seem a huge task – but it’s a good exercise to do because it will remind you of your own goodness, your value and your abilities.
It’s fine to put down stuff about your appearance – for example, if you have delicious ankles do mention it.
But it needs to be a list that reflects all your attributes, including your particular talents and characteristics. So, observations such as ‘I’m a good organiser’ or ‘I always get the job done’ should definitely be in there too.
Compiling the list will flood your brain with positive beliefs about yourself. It might take you a while, but do persist, because it’s worth it. Keep your list with you. Or pin it up somewhere you’ll see it regularly. And read through it every day. This should help to lessen your current nervousness and insecurity.
Another anxiety lots of people have is that they feel no one listens to their point of view and that they are taken for granted at work or by friends or family. For many individuals this is something that has rankled over the past year, and they’re concerned that no one will hear their voice when they return to a busier and more sociable routine.
If you feel like this, why not vow to improve things by becoming more assertive. This will involve learning to use the word ‘I’ much more than you usually do.
Let’s suppose you have a group of friends who are more vocal than you, and you’ve always ended up going along with their choices rather than feel able to put forward your own ideas.
Maybe you’ve spent evenings playing bridge when you’d have preferred to meet up over a meal or some other activity.
Perhaps you’re dreading going back to this situation where you never seem to have a say. Well, now is the time to make changes. It is a new beginning, after all.
Opt to speak up sooner rather than later and to make your own suggestions. Say: "I thought that when we meet next Wednesday it would be lovely if we all went to the cinema for a change. I’d really like that. What about you?"
Or if you have ageing parents and you do everything for them while your siblings never share the load, say: "I do the shopping, cleaning, and taking mum and dad to their doctors’ appointments. I also help with form-filling and paying their bills. But I can’t carry on in this way. I need you to help."
Practise what you want to tell them before the event and then go for it. And remember, you’re as entitled as anyone else to put your point of view.
Remember too, the story of St Patrick. If it’s true that he didn’t feel he was good enough to alter the beliefs of the people of Ireland, he must have had to tell himself ‘I’ll just go and try my best.’
And that’s all any of us can do.