Thoughts from the Dandelion Patch

What unique, seemingly impossible challenges 2020 is providing!

This is a time for reflection, for a shift in awareness of possibilities and realities. We can come to see ourselves, our relationships, families and the world we live in more clearly than before. Depending on our situation, we are called to reassign value to what is present in our lives and deepen important relationships and pursuits. Now is the perfect time for taking stock and asking the important “Who am I?” “What am I doing?” “What is important and what is not?” kinds of questions.

Here are some tips for navigating these uncharted waters:

  • Although we tend to rack our brains to find completely new, fresh creative options for the road ahead, it seems to be a law of the universe that the path ahead is forged with possibilities that are already inherent in ourselves or in our situation, sometimes hiding in clear sight. So widen your vision to look for what is already present and possible.
  • Be realistic but look for the positive. The person you were before Covid is still the same person you are. Sorry yes, happily or sadly as you choose to see it, the whole package is still here. Although it might feel like it, no part of yourself has really gone missing. Hold on to that.
  • Maybe you could begin by reminding yourself of your own unique strengths. Here is a link to a free online questionnaire which helps you to identify your own particular strengths.
  • Become alert to the unproductiveness and destructive danger inherent in following certain of your own inner, but also current negative, alarmist thinking patterns and media narratives. This is like becoming infected with a whole new kind of virus, which blocks seeing clearly and is a sure way to lose our way and become reactive, unhappy, disorientated and uncertain.
  • There is strength in accepting vulnerability and resilience in accepting limits. It helps to remind yourself of the three circles of control. The inner circle is what you can control and are responsible for. The second circle contains what you can chose to exert some influence on. The third circle holds those things which are completely out of your power to influence or control. Often, we spend too much time and energy in the third circle.
  • So now is the time to put extra conscious effort into staying grounded and to care for the body which is suffering from heightened stress. Exercise, try some mindfulness practices, explore breathing practices like pranayama breathing, and, yes, some escapism like video games or mindless series binging can be a really good coping mechanism. Just remember to avoid addictions and add some structure.
  • The Oxford Mindfulness Centre has a solid, straight forward approach to mindfulness. Give it a go.
  • Sam Harris has also put together a really nice course called “The Waking Up Course” which includes theory and shorter and longer practices and even some poetry by David Whyte. You can try it free of charge for a month before deciding whether you want to subscribe.

If you forget all of the above remember to remain kind to yourself and others. Research has shown that people that are able to practice self-kindness when faced with challenges are more likely to succeed.

Dr. Urshula Vijoen, Clinical Psychologist

usviljoen@mweb.co.za

☎ 0827702272

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