The value of rethinking your opportunities
I hesitated slightly in writing about a potential strategy because, before you suggest something as evidence-based, one needs to produce that evidence base strategy as being applicable and successful. In many cases, such strategies have been more than successful in helping people living with generalised anxiety disorder.
Structure is what forms and contains basic needs, and these needs are (and do go beyond) vital for survival. So, what is it that is currently seen as being a threat?
COVID-19 is largely agreed as a global pandemic. It is an invisible threat that will, amongst other symptoms, also trigger various anxieties such as health anxiety, social anxiety, heightening existing anxiety and/or panic, phobia and potentially reformulating various other possible fears or a sense of threat, including isolation or loneliness.
And, that to name but a few of its consequences/impacts for the last three months, is intolerance of uncertainty faced by a few in their experience of anxiety, it becomes an uncertainty of immediate future faced by all – in different degrees, circumstances and environments. And perhaps in that, a conversation as to how best one can preserve not only physical self but also that of their loved ones becomes a more apparent responsibility.
There are many ways of addressing such a responsibility and one such way exists by asking a question addressed to self: How can I help?
One way of answering that is to use pen and paper create a map of the self across all your roles, aspects of self and re-define such roles - not with what is happening now in the present, but with how you would want your life to develop from the moment of starting your exercise. This is a strategy of quiet observation and it opens up possibilities and opportunities. It has been used when life is experienced as disruptive and difficult, a general form of distress, if you may.
But it can now be adapted with questions related to what is desired for change (potential transitions). It is beyond a problem-solving exercise because that would simply imply direct actions from a status quo prior to changes in your environment.
If a map of self is designed at this moment, you will have new considerations to make and such considerations can start with an engagement of redefining your purpose and grounding in all aspects of your life.
How to create a map of self
As an example and to enable this exercise to take place from the comfort of your space, here are some suggestions:
Step 1: Draw yourself in the centre of a page – in whatever symbols and or ways you may find most preferable.
Step 2: Assign to your picture/symbol all identified aspects of self/roles/all connections that you may have with the outside world and in all that defines a sense of self.
Step 3: When that is completed, review such aspects and formulate the main responsibilities of your roles.
Step 4: At this stage check your current understanding of all such descriptions at stage three – are there any recognitions of vulnerability and if yes, how is that described?
Check all your roles against the acronym ACE:
- Accomplishments/Achievements: record all such aspects that are perceived as successes.
- Connections: all types of relationships formed and forming as part of your role/aspect of self-including self-growth.
- Enjoyment: this aspect is related to all aspects of your life that gives one a sense of enjoyment such as hobbies, interests or passions.
Step 5: Devise plans that are accounting for all your aspects identified – not one – but all. Reorganise your map and sense of self including all positive aspects identified with ACE. For instance, volunteering at the present time or at a later stage can be accounted as a way forward for how and what roles you would like to reconsider in your near future.
Or, perhaps an existing role that had been re/discovered through remote working can be further developed and or considered. Perhaps spending time and making plans with significant others is more apparent as becoming a regular time in your near future. Or it could simply be daily exercise or a structured plan for family time.
Step 6: Compare and contrast your two maps (stages 1 and 5) are they the same? If they are, such an exercise could be seen as a gentle reminder and a clear understanding of self. If stages 1 and 5 are two different maps – what does that mean to you?
Step 7: To finish, write up three reflections on such differences and reformulate your goals or, next, based on such differences.
I hope it helps!
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