How do you feel in Lockdown? Life of Pi

When we check in with each other at the start of Zoom calls, there’s a standard question: How do you feel? I wondered, how do I feel? So I have been internally scrolling through the emotions that the Pandemic has brought up in me and others, looking for ways to convey how these last couple of months have felt. It’s like a film rather than life. Ang Lee’s 2012 film Life of Pi comes to mind, rather than some end of the world epic.

If you have seen it, you will remember it has a peculiar story. A ship goes down and the only two survivors are a boy called Pi and a Bengal Tiger called Richard Parker, travelling together on a tiny boat, in a vast ocean, with no particular direction. In our reality, our homes are our boats. We are cast off from our social groups, each other, isolated by social distancing. We are individuals or small families in our own space, with the wide world outside, but one that seems strange and inhospitable to us now.

Some of us have supplies in the boat and some of us don’t. There are people who were very fearful, hording food and toilet rolls. They felt a need to prepare for the coming unknown. By buying lots of resources they were controlling what they could, in a world that felt out of their control. These unique times are triggering our fears at many levels. Showing us our subconscious thought programmes. We choose whether to act on them, go out and panic buy or manage our fears and reassure ourselves there will be plenty for everyone if we share. Every day we can make a new choice.

For some, it may not be possible to go out and get food. Some people’s sense of self is being challenged, something that challenges our very foundations. A friend, who never thought of herself as vulnerable and old, has had to grapple with this label, this identity that was imposed on her a few weeks ago. She was categorised in a way she would never label herself. To be labelled as old and an unwelcome drain on NHS resources, is brutal, when you see yourself as vibrant, creative and productive. These labels are being given to many, it’s not only about age. To be out mixing with people who may or may not be carrying the virus, for those with medical conditions, is putting themselves at risk. We are in lockdown to stop a surge of cases that the NHS can’t manage. We are staying home by choice to save lives. How do people who can’t be independent any more feel about the supplies dwindling in their boat? Do they feel more isolated, more fear? Do they feel powerless? Do they feel a burden on society? Are they grappling with their mortality?

In the film, Pi is on his own, in a small space, a boat, in an inhospitable environment trying to survive and share the space with something unpredictable, something that could easily kill him. Around us, Covid-19 is invisible. The fact that we can’t see this threat makes it more menacing in some ways as it could be anywhere. This results in people feeling very stressed, there’s a collective fear around the world. The mind repeats “there’s a threat!” all the time, “watch out it could be anywhere, be vigilant, be very vigilant.” Being full of fear for our own safety all the time is exhausting. We just can’t sustain it. The stress affects us negatively and results in our immune system becoming compromised.

The awareness of death portrayed in Life of Pi gave it an emotional depth, a tense quality. A sense of Pi wrestling with his views of God. Which god and what form did god take? How could God allow him to be on his own in such a harsh environment? Why was God testing him? In the film, Pi shows his ingenuity, he overcomes problems and grows in confidence and knowledge. At some points in the film he’s enjoying life and thriving, he’s adapted to the new life.

There are moments of extraordinary spellbinding beauty within the film. Nature is magnificent, fascinating and humbling. The light of the sunset on the water made me cry it was so beautiful. I see more people out walking, noticing spring, day by day as the leaves on the trees develop. People are slowing down and noticing, sensing and feeling the world around them. They are excited to see a butterfly or bumblebee. The notice the beautiful flowers, and they sense something has changed in them, they’re noticing the colours are more vividly. We are now in the moment, appreciating what we see and sense. We feel life, we are realising what’s important as the distractions are stripped away. We are really living life, not rushing past it.

Pi has to find a way to live with the tiger until they get to land. We too have to find a way to live with Covid-19. Being in constant fear will harm our health. We need to find a way to coexist on the planet. The virus like the tiger is part of nature. We need to treat it with respect and look after our own health and not get depleted by being constantly fearful. The lesson is do not live in fear,  live the best life you can. Each day has 24 hours, you can spend them feeling sad or happy, you choose.

My question to you is, how are you feeling? If you are uncertain, fearful, how will you manage your fears so you can live with the tiger and enjoy your beautiful life? If you or someone you know wants support with this transition, join me on Navigating Change and Strengthening Resilience. Friday 8th May 1pm register here:

Sarah Nicholson

Coping when our lives have been drastically destabilised

We’ve never known our lives to be so destabilised. Many emotions are rushing through our bodies at the moment. It may be challenging to identify them because many are uncomfortable feelings which we don’t want to feel. In this challenging situation, what can you do to stabilise yourself in this ever-changing world? I have a few suggestions for you in this blog.

You are feeling your fear and the collective fear

Firstly, let’s get to the source of the problem. Many people are feeling their own fear, fatigue and panic as well as the collective fear and anxiety. Do you remember when Princess Diana died? There was a collective mourning: sadness with an edge of anger. Now the world population is dealing with the Covid-19 virus and this invisible threat brings fear and grief as our lives change in unimaginable ways.

The unthinkable is happening all the time. For the majority, our structured, busy work and other aspects of our lives seem so distant from our current reality. We are now in lock-down, staying home to save lives. It is like being in a film rather than the life you’re used to, it seems so unreal. People queue outside food and pharmacy shops 2m apart. Patiently waiting and hoping that the shelves have been restocked when the enter. We’re used to getting what we want when we want and with relative ease. This is a stress to our systems. Will there be food at the shop or something we need? We don’t know. This is a very different UK.

We are grieving

We are grieving for the life we lost. The stability and the sense of control we may have felt. We are also feeling anticipatory grief. This is your mind going into the future and imagining the worst-case scenarios. We know the world is going to be different from this moment forward. We aren’t sure exactly what it we will have lost. It means we feel unsafe moving into this unknown new future.

Journal to access your feelings

Whatever we are feeling it is important to allow ourselves to feel. Let the emotions discharge themself in some sort of safe way. Scientifically it has been shown that journalling helps individuals to get through challenging emotional times much faster. It allows you to process your thoughts and feelings. There’s support to get you going on Facebook at ExploreDiscover/posts You don’t need to write for long, 15 minutes was long enough. You do need to be radically honest with yourself about how you feel, no editing, be raw. Once you have written it down with a pen on paper (very important) then ask yourself, is there something else underneath this? Trust the process.

Be kind to yourself

This is not a situation you or any of us have encountered before. As a country we have never been put in lock-down. A virus is making its way across the globe stopping all forms of travel and transport. It is an unseen killer, and this makes us feel unsafe. There is the economic turmoil and the loss of connection. Don’t just expect yourself to bounce back. You will feel tired and foggy headed at times. Be kind to yourself. How you treat yourself is important. You may need to cultivate a new level of compassion for yourself. How could you do this? What does the scared child inside you need from your adult self? Do this and you will feel calm.

Watch what you’re feeding your mind

Without really noticing, it can be easy to fill your head with news hour after hour. It’s important to pay attention to what’s going on, but don’t let it fill every moment. As with all things in life we need balance to maintain our health and happiness. What you allow into your head is food for your brain. Watch what diet you feed it. This is even more important when it comes to children, as an unseen killer can give them nightmares.

Keep things in balance

Our minds show us pictures. My parents getting sick. We see the worst scenarios. You can’t stop thinking those thoughts, but you can balance them with best scenarios. Try to find balance in the things you think. People may get sick, but they can get better. Neither scenario should be ignored, and neither should dominate.

Noticing what you enjoy

This is reminding us of how precious life is. It makes us realise we’ve been being busy, rushing and we were scattered. Human doings not human beings. Now we’ve been forced to stay in one place for a period, we have time to notice. To come into the present. Write in your journal about what you see, what you notice this spring. Are you hearing more bird song without the traffic and aeroplane noise? Are you enjoying being in nature? Do you notice how good it makes you feel? After the lockdown how will you change your life? Will you still make time to visit the park once a day?

Think about the good things you want to continue to do in your life, such as pottering or even camping in the garden. Lots of people are joining the Facebook group: The Great Garden Indoor/ Outdoor Camp Easter 2020. This is bringing us back to the little pleasures in life. Having fun on our own or with our families in lockdown.

Cultivating more compassion

If people get a bit grizzly, realise they will also be feeling the grief and may not be themselves at the moment. We need to treat each other with compassion. You choose how you act in the world. Let there be more compassion than fear. I’m seeing more compassion in the world as I move around my community. We ask how each other are. I notice that people are genuinely interested in the answer. In England, you may ask “how are you?” But it’s a courtesy statement, a form of greeting. People didn’t really want to know the answer. The old “I’m fine” because I can see you’re too busy to listen, to me has gone. In this brief period of time so much has changed. We have restrictions on our liberty, but we have deepened our compassion. We notice each other. I hope we continue to learn these important lessons that this situation is bringing us. We can learn and grow into better versions of ourselves.

If you want a coaching session to support you through the six stages of grief, the final is to find meaning, get in touch with me.

When does your New Year start?

The New Year marks a point in time, where we move from one year to the next, this is a culturally agreed date. Where you’re from, will influence how you think and the customs you’ve taken onboard as your autopilot. Travelling allows us to see these autopilots. Stepping out of our culture into separate set of beliefs and ways of acting makes us aware of what we’ve taken onboard as truth. But is it the Truth with a capital T? The ultimate truth? I’ll share my thoughts about New Year which help highlight our constricted thinking. I’m going to encourage you to turn off your autopilot and consider your Truth with a capital T. Then make some plans for your New Year and new you!

Which is your New Year?
There are many different calendars around the world that measure the passage of time. In China the first day of Chinese New Year begins on the new moon that appears between January 21 and February 20. This is huge festivity with people travelling home to celebrate with family and their community. It is known as the Spring Festival and its traditional for every family to thoroughly clean their house, in order to sweep away any ill-fortune and to make way for incoming good luck. This ritual is a conscious way of letting go of the past year to step into the New Year, clean, fresh and ready for opportunity.

The Gregorian Calendar is the most widely used calendar system today. New Year is celebrated on the 1st January. Wikipedia explains the variety of dates used by different places. You’ll notice the link between location on the globe and the amount of sunlight. Because the New Year is about the start of the new growing season. This is true for us internally as well – that’s why we make New Year’s resolutions to consciously develop our growth in ways we want.

Ancient wisdom
To ancient people the return of the sun was a time for celebration. It was the start of the New Year. More daylight meant spring was on its way, a time to plant crops and more food security. These were a very knowledgeable and sophisticated people. Neolithic people used stone tools and they had a very accurate understanding of the passing of the seasons through the movement of the sun. The Winter Solstice on 21st December marks the shortest day of the year and the longest night. After this, we in the northern hemisphere get a little more daylight each day up to the Summer Solstice on 21st June. I travelled to Newgrange a Neolithic tomb to be part of this ancient celebration of the return of the sun.

Stonehenge in England a famous standing stone temple that lines up with the summer and winter solstice. There are more detailed carvings on the stones facing the Winter Solstice, showing that this was the more important orientation. The return of the sun was the most momentous time of year. Travelling to Newgrange to be part of the Winter Solstice celebration was a new experience for me. I was following my intuition. I knew I should be there, but I wasn’t sure what to expect.

At Newgrange I learned that Neolithic people clothed themselves using hides from deer and other animals. They knitted using the fibres from sheep and dogs. Dogs! I realised that I had culturally accepted that we use the fur of sheep. Dogs have fur, that’s soft. They need their coats cutting so why did this seem a new concept to me, as it is an obvious use of resources? I had just shone a light on a cultural autopilot. If this is one, then what else to I accept that isn’t True? What do you accept that isn’t true for you?

What is your Truth?
When I went to Newgrange, I realised that New Year for me was the Winter Solstice. I had been tidying my house and clearing out the old, so I could welcome in my New Year. It had been something that I just needed to do my internal compass was guiding me. Acknowledging where I’d been and what I’d learnt in the previous year. The return of the sunlight and longer days was a powerful feeling of renewal. I had been preparing for my New Year.

At Newgrange I clearly felt that Christmas is now a cultural festival of bling and consumerism. I know what it is and I don’t renounce it, I’m just not getting subsumed by it. I choose what Christmas means for me. It is a time for family to come together and relax in each other’s company. It’s a day off in winter, a time to rest, nurture and feast. We do this by sharing great food, a key part of our way of showing our care and nurturing each other.

The changing of the season though on 21st December was a powerful internal force. My Truth, my time to choose the path of my future. To make conscious decisions to move in the direction of my dreams. I spend time setting goals for myself, so I can develop myself in all my aspects – physically, spiritually, with family/ friends, improving my home, my career, travelling goals and volunteering.

Conscious choice – set some goals for the year
What is your Truth? When do you feel the internal compass spin and a need to move in the direction of your Truth? No matter what others are doing, what calendar they are following because “that’s the way we do things around here”, you should follow your gut and do what’s correct for you. Spend time reflecting and learning from the past year. Then its time to look forward and plan where you want to go. Break it down as I do and set little goals in each area of your life.

New perspective
Travel is a wonderful. It shines a light and allows you to see how you have just fallen in to autopilot. The unfamiliar environment, new people, may be even a new culture helps you to notice how you operate and how you could do things differently if you chose to. Think of it like this. A snake grows and a some point its skin then become restrictive. You have been growing over the last year, you now are at the point where you can internally choose to stay as you are in the same skin that feel familiar and safe, but a bit uncomfortable as it’s limiting, or you can choose to grow. This means leaving the safety of your old self, choosing to do things differently, to challenge yourself, to allow yourself to make mistakes and grow. You may feel vulnerable, but you will allow yourself to do new things, have adventures and be proud of your achievements. If not now when?

To understand the importance of setting goals to make your dreams come true read: If you want support in this process then book a free Discovery Call and we can discuss how I can help you build the life you want.

When will you chose to develop into the New You? Next week? Next year? In five years time or now?

Stuck or grow – which will you do?

The trauma of ending a long-term relationship cuts deep. The end of one part of your life allows you to create something new. In this blog I want to share why setting goals is so important to creating the life you want. I hope you will be inspired to set your own goals and make your dreams come true!

When I broke up from my long-term partner, I had to get used to being just me, not part of a couple. It was challenging changing my vocabulary, not using words such as we or us, it was now I or me. So, who was the I without the we? What had I given up to be part of a couple? I looked inside and realised, I’d given up on some of my dreams, to mould myself to be with my partner. Now I was on my own, did I want to follow my dreams? It was a clear choice, stay stuck or grow?

Growth objectives
It’s a simple question, but it applies to every part of your life. When you step back and look at all aspects of your life: work-life balance, career, fun/hobbies, finances, spiritual and mental growth, relationships, emotional growth and health/fitness, what do you think? Are some areas better than others? Parts of your life that you are happy with, that are running smoothly. But are there one or two areas that are dragging you down? You may already know what you want to change? These are areas for personal growth, they are your growth objectives.

Why would I want to have a growth objective I hear you say? It sounds like challenging work and I’ve no time or energy for any of that. I just want to plod along and have a quiet life. Okay, I hear you, but do you want a better life? The path to a better life, is sorting out the problems so you’re happier and more fulfilled.

Get clarity and set goals
Getting clarity about a problem can help you find a route to make changes. Sometimes problems can feel big, overwhelming and frankly impossible. If this is where you are, and you want to make a change, I suggest you get a coach. A coach will help you clarify your thinking. You can get clear on exactly what you want to change and create a goal. Having a goal means you can look at options and decide your best way forward. You create a set of small actions that move you towards your goal. Lists help, make them, do the action and tick them off. You feel good about your progress and this keeps you focused.

Achieving your goals
Do dreams come true? In my case, yes, they do! My dream was to ride a motorbike and go touring on a Triumph in the Dolomites. This was my dream since I was a teenager. I’d let other things get in the way, I hadn’t made it a priority, but inside I still wanted to do it. I looked around at other people who rode motorbikes, they didn’t seem to be any better than me. If they could do it, I could do it.

I decided to go for it! I’d try to get my motorbike license. In my mind this could result in one of three possible outcomes:

  1. Pass my license and I was on the way to making my dream a reality or
  2. Fail the test, but I was proud of myself for trying
  3. Realise that I didn’t want to ride a motorbike to the Dolomites, end of dream nonsense.

Any of the above options was a good outcome in my eyes. I found a local motorbike school that was supportive of women and I booked lessons. It was tough. I had to concentrate, learn and master new skills. It sharped up my road awareness and this has benefited me as a cyclist and car driver. I loved learning, challenging myself and developing new skills. As I made small steps, I was proud of my achievements.

My outcome was option 4! When I went for my test, I failed first time, but I wasn’t going to give up on my dream, I’d invested too much. I took my test again and passed. After years of developing my skills as a rider, I went to the Dolomites on my Triumph. My story is the same as many other people’s, I am not super-special or particularly gifted. I had a dream, I broke it down into steps and I just kept going until I reached my goal. I didn’t achieve it in a week, it took me years. But I can say with my hand on my heart that my life is richer. Motorbiking has given me a sense of freedom, squealing in my helmet, fun, respect and adventure. I’ve met wonderful people, visited beautiful, stop-you-dead-in your-tracks places that make your heart swell. As a teenager I had a dream, as an adult I made the dream come true.

Your time to choose
We all have free will. We all choose the life we want to lead. Which future will you choose? Same as always or doing what you want to do?

Start planning or if you want to get clarity, get a coach. Setting a goal makes an enormous difference when it comes to making changes in your life. The October Business Planning Guide 2017 from Rising Tide Society had a Harvard Study: that revealed remarkable statistics relating to goal setting and success: 83% of the population do not have goals; 14% have a plan in mind, but goals are unwritten; and 3% have goals written down. The study found that the 14% who have goals are 10 times more successful than those without goals. The 3% with written goals are three times more successful than the 14% with unwritten goals. Writing your goals down sets you up to be exponentially more successful. If you want to change your life make a goal and write it down. Be proud of yourself for choosing to change and making your life better. If you want to know what support coaching can give you to achieve your goals, book a free discovery call with me.

Make your dreams come true!