It was only a few months ago that we were talking about our hopes for a new decade, our visions for 2020.
Who knew we would all be experiencing such global pandemonium just a month or two later, where most of us have been directed, and rightly so, to shelter in place.
We did not choose this restriction ourselves, this new boundary. It’s been placed upon us to protect our future freedom, freedom to live and thrive.
COVID -19 has fostered chaotic feelings of being out of control.
The truth is, stuff happens. This pandemic was something we as individuals could not predict nor did any of us deserve. Most of us were unaware of the mass impact it could and would have. No one knows what the future holds which further escalates anxiety.
Did anyone ever call you a “control freak”?
Obviously, it’s never meant as a compliment.
The truth is, having a sense of control of one’s own life is something everyone needs. It’s particularly important when there’s a major challenge that changes our normal ways of living, that limits our movement and forces us to accept new boundaries, new restraints.
Who wouldn’t freak out!
It’s Time to Take Back Control.
There are a number of things you can do to regain control even during the Coronavirus pandemic. It’s important to know a couple of things about yourself first.
People tend to experience a sense of control in two basic ways.
Freedom Seekers – Are those who know they have many choices and can spin on a dime, changing course in midstream if they need.
Structure Seekers – Are those who know what to do next because they’ve organized and prioritized their ideas and responsibilities with lists, plans, actions and schedules.
If you're a Structure Seeker you thrive on order and planning. You experience a sense of control of your life when . . .
- You create and follow a detailed schedule each day
- You keep your mind and space neat
- You complete one task, before moving on to the next
And . . .
- You are a thorough planner
- You have patience in analyzing your options
- You stick it out through the rough times and finish on target
- You focus despite numerous distractions or curve balls
If you're a Freedom Seeker, you value flexibility and spontaneity. You feel more in control -- at work and home—when . . .
- Your options are open
- You make decisions minute by minute.
- You deal with problems as they emerge, changing previously made plans as needed.
- You have the ability to fly by the seat of your pants
- You demonstrate competence in chaos
- You excel at taking calculated risks
- You are at ease stepping into the fray and figuring it out
- Your Mantra is “Bloom where you’re planted.”
Which sounds most like you?
What can you do during the COVID-19 crisis to reclaim control?
If you’re a Freedom Seeker, you’re probably feeling very anxious about being confined. You experience it as very limiting, maybe even emotionally suffocating. Freedom Seekers under stress and anxiety can actually hyperventilate and feel like they can’t breathe. Add the threat of Coronavirus and they are terrified they could be sick, even though it proves to be just an anxiety attack.
We all operate within boundaries, many of them self-imposed while others are societal. What’s good about knowing the limitations of a boundary, is that there is freedom of choice within that space. Freedom Seekers need to reframe their ideas about this new environment to see it as an opportunity with choices.
As a Freedom Seeker, what if you could use this time to …
- Do something creative – write, paint, draw, sing, play music, cook
- Learn something new – read more, take an online course
- Connect - Reach out to friends as well as people you haven’t spoken to in a long time
- Leverage social media – attend Facebook “watch parties”
- Text your friends, get together on Zoom
- Workout - Challenge yourself to find new ways of exercising
If you’re a Structure Seeker you may be silently smiling because you’ve been given a great opportunity to do the things you love to do and do so well.
Even though you’ve been somewhat inconvenienced, the pillars of your life are not threatened. At worst you’re forced to stay off the road and that means not driving to work, meeting a colleague or client at Starbucks, shopping for groceries or going to the gym. When you think about it, you realize you’ve been doing much of your work at home anyway. Now you have more free time to focus and get things done. And you can always send your Freedom Seeker partner out to get essentials.
It is a time to think about your life, relationship and career goals and create a plan to move towards on them under the current conditions and then considering what might work post COVID-19.
Is There a Best Way to Regain Control?
Both control types have strengths and weaknesses. But when you are living and working together, it’s the weaknesses that loom large in the respective eyes of our polar opposites.
The isolation is especially uncomfortable for us because it limits our normal patterns. We ordinarily have solutions for being with others which allow for heathy separation – going for walks, going out to work, going on errands, spending time with others. Differences in style are magnified in this artificial but very real living arrangement that has been imposed on people. It makes it easier to find fault with other people’s control-coping styles.
If you're a Structure Seeker, you might attach labels like "procrastinator," "irresponsible," "lazy" and "untrustworthy" to your Freedom loving friends.
On the other hand, The Freedom Lover may view Structure Seekers as "anal retentive," "uptight," “judgmental” and "rigid."
Name calling isn’t going to help. Nor will telling others how to “do it” get you anywhere with your polar opposites. It’s probably a good idea to avoid telling a Structure Seeker “you have to be more flexible,” or telling a Freedom Seeker "you need to come up with a scheduled, prioritized plan, now.”
You Were Meant to Thrive.
COVID-19 is a challenge -- but also an unprecedented opportunity. As we shelter in place, we get to see ourselves under a novel, highly focused lens.
We get to learn about ourselves and how much control we really do have even in the face of a major global threat.
Let’s use it to take back control by remembering what’s important to us and what we value.
Let’s also recommit to being the strong community of people we were meant to be.