Rehearse the positive feelings

Written by Michelle Robinson

“Michelle, Last year was tough on all of us, I know. I’d really like some guidance on how to find my feet again this year. I still feel nervous to leave the house but miss my family, friends and my old life generally. How can I pull it all back together for 2021? Thanks.” – I-so-late

Dear ‘I-so-late’,

Thanks for your really great question. I know that many people are feeling nervous – even anxious – about how to get their life back onto a familiar track after the disruption of 2020. You sound like you’ve had some significant challenges. Your confidence has been knocked and you’re not sure of the best way to move forward. Your feelings are completely natural.

I have a few suggestions that may help, but the best resources available to you are actually your own. It takes courage to accept that our lives may never be exactly the same as they were before
a disruption, like COVID. Courage is needed to approach life with a different perspective. Flexibility and a positive attitude are important.

It is pointless to obsess what cannot be changed. For example, social distancing may be the new norm for a very long time to come. How we approach the world we now find ourselves in, is our choice. That is one thing we have influence over – our reactions and attitudes to what occurs around us and to us.

I suggest tackling your nervousness in regular small steps. Avoidance of anything because of fear, heightens that fear. Phobias often begin through a pattern of avoiding what makes us uncomfortable. Ask yourself, ‘What’s real here?’ when you feel nervous. Get accurate information that helps you understand any risks you may be facing, then make a plan to manage those risks so that you feel comfortable with your decisions.

I am sure that you already know how important it is for your mental and emotional well-being to stay connected with friends and lovedones.

Don’t let anxiety separate you from the ones you care about.

Prioritise staying in touch, and do that in whatever ways are practical for you. I wish you every happiness in 2021. I do believe that courage, determination and taking one step after another towards a goal, are your allies in overcoming your nervousness.

My very best wishes,

“Hey Michelle, All you hear about is resolutions this time of year. I’m not really the ‘resolution making type’… Are my friends and the TV wrong, or is it me?” – Failed Resolutioner

Hi ‘Failed Resolutioner’,

My quick answer to your query is that no-one is right or wrong. Some people need a particular date or a ‘kick start’ like a resolution to start working towards a goal. However, many resolutions are made with a flurry of enthusiasm and commitment that quickly wane. Put simply, if you rely on motivation as the fuel for sticking to a resolution, (especially one that has not been achieved in the past), then expect failure to follow.

Motivation is like a sparkler. It burns brightly for a short while, but all too soon, it fizzles out. When that occurs, commitment and routine need to take motivation’s place. If they don’t, a person often gives up on their goal.

So, I agree with you, ‘Failed Resolutioner’. A resolution is only helpful if a person is committed to the discipline needed to achieve the outcome. The mindset needs to be, for example, ‘It’s okay if I don’t
feel like going for a walk today. I will do it anyway because I will feel better once it is done.’ New habits need at least 6 weeks to create new helpful neural pathways. If you quit before then, the new habit is easily discontinued.

To gain the best possible results from a resolution, imagine as vividly as you can, all the benefits your desired outcome will bring. Feel these benefits in every cell in your body. Rehearse the positive feelings over and over. Back up your mental rehearsal with discipline, and then success is very possible.

Wishing you a wonderful 2021,