I am looking out of my apartment window in the complex where my family and I live in Johannesburg, South Africa. It is little after 9 on a Monday morning, April 20, 2020. Usually by this time I am on the campus of the college that my wife and I are leading. But today is day 25 of the lockdown here in South Africa. We have been out of our complex only four times in the past 24 days. This has been quite an adjustment for us; under normal circumstances we rarely go a day without leaving the complex.
We find ourselves in a new normal; we do not have a choice since the lockdown is beyond our control. This raises a question: What do you do when you are forced into a situation – like restrictions on your movements – that is beyond your control?
Restrictions of movement in response to the global pandemic that is COVID-19, a novel coronavirus, have impacted us all in a personal way. How should we respond? The reality is, we have a choice.
We can spend a lot of our time being resentful and angry, or we can seek to make the best of the situation in which we find ourselves. The reality is that we have never been this way before, so we have no tried-and-true ways of dealing with effects of this pandemic. Governments, leaders, communities and individuals are trying different ways of coping.
In our response and the restricted movement many of us are facing, if we are going to get through this without harm to our psyche, we must recognize what we have control over and what is beyond our control. Furthermore, we must choose to act on the things we have control over and give as little energy as possible to the things we cannot control. In any circumstance, we all have the power to make these choices. No one can take that from you. As Victor Frankl, in his book Man’s Search for Meaning, reminds us:
“Everything can be taken from a man (sic) but one thing: the last of the human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”
We can choose our attitude during this time of limited freedom of movement, loss of financial income, and isolation from friends, family and loved ones. For example, you can choose to resent being home because of your restricted movement, or you can choose to find ways to make the best use your time at home. I am aware that our circumstances at home are not all the same. However, regardless of our circumstances, we can choose to be angry, depressed and resentful because of things we have no control over, or we can choose to adopt a positive attitude and try to make the best of the current situation.
These are indeed challenging times, and we are experiencing a new normal as we all try to navigate this pandemic. Rather than allowing ourselves to be absorbed into wishing things were different, we can choose to adopt an attitude of making the best of the situation we have found ourselves in because of the coronavirus pandemic.
We will accomplish more, and life will be more fulfilling, if we learn to focus our time and resources on what we can control. I think this is what Jesus was getting at in Matthew 6:34 when He admonished us to not worry. Worry is giving time and energy to things we have no control over.
Live in the present. Focus your energies on the things you can control.
Take a few minutes and reflect on the things you have been giving your time and energies to:
- Are they all within your control?
- Are you wasting time and energy on things you cannot control?
Starting today, why not make a conscious decision that you will devote your time and energy only to the things over which you have control and not worry about the things you cannot control? If you do, likely you will be amazed at how much lighter, more fulfilling and satisfying life will become.
If you would like help in achieving your goals as a leader or in any area of your life, call us at 208-880-0307 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a complimentary coaching session. To read Errol’s other posts, visit Christ-Centered Life Coaching.