Here in the UK we're almost four weeks into our COVID-19 lockdown, with the Government expected to announce a further three-week extension at any moment, so how are you holding up?
For the families and couples out there, are you still enjoying each other's company, or is your patience wearing a bit thin with your relationship(s) feeling strained?
MINDSET IS EVERYTHING
If so, please keep in mind the bigger picture, because this is no time for autopilot thinking. Engage your mindfulness and remember this is not some cheesy Big Brother game show. You're actually being selflessly wonderful on a daily basis. You're actively helping to ensure everyone's health and survival, not least your own. You are protecting your whole community, and especially those with underlying health conditions, our senior citizens, our beloved National Health Service and our front line super heroes: our paramedics, nurses, doctors, delivery drivers, teachers, refuse collectors and retail workers to name but a few.
Choose to think of yourself as a strong, selfless and valiant warrior, instead of a downtrodden and hard done by victim of some malevolent lockdown imprisonment. Your chosen mindset is everything, and make no mistake, it is a choice. Not everyone can see that, but I'm sure you can because you read and you're inquisitive. This tells me you also understand that your mind will believe what you tell it, so it's just a question of selecting positive and empowering inputs, to achieve positive and empowering outputs. It really is that simple. Oh, it's still hard work, but it's a simple equation.
Now, for any relationship tensions, please call to mind the archetypal challenge of tug of war. You know how it works. Both sides wrap themselves up in an issue (the rope), dig their heels in for added purchase and then tug with all their might and will to pull their opponent over to their side, or way of thinking. It's exhausting, often painful and entirely unnecessary.
In a literal tug of war contest, brute strength wins. Super. But you're not competing in a literal tug of war contest, you're playing quarantine war games and there's a critical difference. You're engaging in what will insidiously become more and more destructive war games. Stop it. This is where you can choose to disengage. This is where you can take a time out and create new rules that'll serve you well.
IT'S TIME TO HOLSTER YOUR EGO
Imagine yourself for a moment at one end of the tug of war rope. Your heels are dug in, your negative mindset entrenched and you refuse to budge so much as an inch to the other side. How are you feeling right now? Angry? Stubborn? Righteous? Certain? Vindictive? Bitter? Like you have a point or principle to prove? Now please read this paragraph again. It's not exactly packed with positively charged, love affirming, relationship enhancing words, is it? And that's because characteristics like anger, stubbornness, vindictiveness and bitterness are hauled out of your ego's rancid bunker at times of crisis and duress, rather than the healthier and more resourceful alternatives from your heart or mind.
This is your ego declaring war games on those you love, like, respect and live with. You're allowing your ego to write cheques your relationship can't cash, so you have to mindfully take control of yourself. Like I said earlier, this is no time for autopilot thinking and behaviour, it could literally make you single, lonely and regretful when this is all over, so think on.
And yes, it is their ego pulling on the opposite end of the rope, but don't ever forget there can be no winners in quarantine war games. Sure, one of you may indeed "win" on the day, but this is nothing more than a cheap and hollow victory. Resentment will breed and resurface eventually, along with its lamentable toxicity contaminating your relationship going forwards. True colours are revealed during times of crisis and duress, and no attempt should ever be made to repaint them. You have been warned.
SO WHAT TO DO?
Go back to imagining the tug of war power struggle, with each side intermittently pulling and being pulled. What happens to your opponent and their argument if you let go and refuse to engage any longer? The struggle ends. Let their ego gloat and prance victoriously if they must, it says more about them than you. If true, they clearly need the superficial inflation for some reason... and why is that? It can't be for a good and healthy reason, can it? And how about you, do you need the hollow victory of winning a trivial game? And if so, why is that? Wouldn't you much rather catch yourself on, be a better version of yourself and see how that plays out instead? It would certainly be a deliberately intelligent motion towards your best self, rather than away from it.
Some things in life truly are worth fighting for: freedom, truth, democracy, peace and the like - but is what you're squabbling over reaching these lofty great heights and ideals? I bet it's often nothing more than your bored egos taking chunks out of each other to release your stress and the monotony, am I right? If so, now is your chance to be honest and self-aware enough to ask if what you're bickering about is really worth the exhausting and negative energy exchange of your war game - because that's all it is, a game. It sure as hell isn't helping create a COVID-19 vaccine, or resuscitating the life back into someone else's loved one!
CREATE NEW RULES
Let go. Tell the other person they mean too much to you to argue and fight about ________ and that you're going to spend your time positively and resourcefully e.g.: reading, taking a bath or watching one of your favourite movies. Focus on what's actually important by telling them you love them, value and respect them, whilst always remembering that your love for them is the big hairy reason why you've chosen to live with them in the first place!
It has been well documented how quickly COVID-19 can take any of us, suddenly and unexpectedly. With this in mind, please take this opportunity to count your many blessings and love the ones you're with whilst you still can. Sadly, there is a mournful multitude who would love your problems right now, so please catch yourself on and adjust your mindset.
Stay home. Protect the NHS. Save lives.
Wishing you health, love and safety.
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