Half our planet is under some kind of lockdown with more than 70 000 deaths worldwide. Our world is on its knees. Presidents begin to cry out, “God have mercy on us”. Something big is happening. Something beyond what we can comprehend and control. Covid-19 has shocked and shook the world.
I have just completed Day 11 of a 21-day lockdown in my country, South Africa, and the feeling of being locked in is beginning to sink in. The Southern Hemisphere sun shines so radiantly and the skies appear to be bluer than ever, and I ask myself, “Is this all a dream? Is this really happening? It’s too beautiful and perfect outside, everything looks so normal. I must be dreaming.”
This invisible virus is our new enemy that is eating away at mankind, but like all situations in life, we must soldier on. We cannot just give up and give in. We need to simply do life!! ‘Cos doing life is what we need to do right now. We cannot let this situation pull our spirits down. We cannot let this break us. We need to get up every day being hopeful that this too will pass. Life will prevail over death.
My heart bleeds for those in the front-line, those infected with the virus and for those who have lost their lives or loved ones already. I can’t imagine the grief or the fear they must feel.
For those of us who are locked in as our countries lock down, we have the time and the well-being to hold on for those who are fighting Covid-19 in prayer. How do we stay positive in the midst of all this grief? There must be some life lesson we can learn from all this. It’s time to get locked in spiritually; a time to self-reflect and mediate on God’s word and instructions for our lives. Even though our doors may be shut, the doors of our hearts must be opened even wider now. It’s time to pray and wait on the Lord. It’s time for us to be on our knees. We can choose to be in turmoil or we can decide to use this time to reflect and get locked in.
What do I mean to be “locked in”? To be locked in oneself is to set aside the time to take stock of your life. It is a time shared between you and your thoughts… allowing yourself to access the ways that you may have gone off the path.
When last have we just taken a break from the hustle ‘n bustle of everyday life? Traffic, emails, bills have taken over our lives. We have no time to listen, we are always in a hurry to just do, do and do more.
“Niksen”: doing absolutely nothing.
We live in a world where people are struggling to disconnect from their careers; where work is taken home and the stress thereof has infiltrated its way into the home, corrupting and breaking down families and marriages; where stress and burnouts are now classified as a medical condition. One antidote that I have recently stumbled upon is “Niksen”: doing absolutely nothing.
This Dutch wellness trend called Niksen is based on the principle of sitting and doing absolutely nothing! This practice allows your brain to just wander, and will enhance creativity and problem solving. It could reduce anxiety and may even slow down aging and increase your immune system.
“You cannot have a meaningful life without having self-reflection.”
So why not stop and listen to yourself talk? Listen to that inner voice: the voice of reasoning, the voice of your conscience… your quiet unpolluted thoughts. Some of the greatest minds of the world created the most astounding inventions by just being alone with their thoughts. Let your mind flow fearlessly and gracefully.
I created this blog, “Do life simply” in January 2020, but I never had the courage to post any of the articles I have written. Like most people, I also made excuses that my writing was not good enough or that there are so many other talented people out there writing and expressing themselves so beautifully. But little did I realise how prophetic this blog title really is. In times like these, we need to just stop and simply do life.
When we are hit with something as devastating as Covid-19, you cannot help but ask yourself the question, “What is the value of life? Mankind is fragile right now. Can money, ambition, and greed save me now?” We have clawed our way into the skin of our planet, bleeding her dry of all her resources. She needs time to heal, she needs a time-out. And we need to take a step back.
Allow yourself to ponder.
So, embrace this lockdown time and get locked in with yourself. Get to know yourself… your thoughts and your feelings, and why you feel the way that you do. Allow yourself to reflect and ponder on how far you have come and what may lie ahead. Ask yourself, “Where have I gone wrong? How have I wronged? Who have I wronged? And what can I do to make this wrong a right?”
Let’s start with me first. As a teacher, I have learnt that when teaching a child to read and write for the first time, our first orientation lessons are focused on the topic of “Myself”. The fundamental building block to humanity and community starts with “me” first.
Self-reflection (also called introspection) can be defined as observing and analysing oneself to grow as a person.
The famous song by Michael Jackson, “I’m talking to the man in the mirror, I am asking him to change his ways” comes to mind right now.
Social media is a breeding ground for ideas of how to keep occupied and entertained during this lockdown. Start a hobby, exercise, clean, cook… the list goes on, but why not take the time to soul-search and self-reflect? How can you grow better as a person?
Take this time to repair and heal.
Take this time to repair and heal from some of the damages that may have occurred in your life’s journey.
I’ve thought of 7 ways you can start to self-reflect, but before we get into it, let’s make sure we are in the right frame of mind:
- Find a quiet place
- Get comfortable
- Let your mind just flow and relax
- Take a few deep breaths if you are struggling to calm your mind down
- Let your thoughts roam while you ask yourself the 7 questions below
- Make notes, if you so desire
Here are 7 simple ways to self-reflect:
1. Am I happy? Who makes me happy? What makes me happy?
Given the choice, we’d probably prefer to be happy all the time. This positive emotion is linked with a heathier life. Staying positive also drives us to success, reduces the risk of diseases and increases our chances of living longer. But feeding all our happiness, especially when it’s not good for you, is not always the best thing for you. So assess what and who makes you happy. Does ice cream make you happy? But if you are diabetic, then this happy is not good for you. By reflecting on what makes you happy, it will help you to make healthy future choices.
2. Review your life.
If you had to review your life, go back 10 years, and then back to the present, can you say to yourself: “I have done well?” Or do you feel regret, hurt, pain and disappointment? If that is the case, then you need to address these emotions. Let go of what you could not control, and cannot control. Move on. You know where you can make the changes so that history does not repeat itself. So start the change now.
“Your life is supposed to be a journey from one unique place to another; it’s not supposed to be a merry-go-round that brings you back to the same spot over and over again.”
3. How can I better myself?
We can’t live in regret; we can’t constantly make an excuse that tomorrow is another day. Now is here! What can I do to better myself, professionally, physically and spiritually? Why wait for the New Year, start now. Get to the gym, study more, read more, pray more. Recognize your skills and talents. Don’t waste them.
4. Am I guilty of self-sabotage?
More often than most, we are our own enemy. What limits you? What holds you back? I find myself guilty of this most of the time. The Inner Critic, the judge and jury, over all the great ideas our mind dreams up. Great business ideas are self-sabotaged because of fear. Does fear hold you back from making life-changing decisions?
5. What in my life is toxic for me?
Now this is serious; you know that poison will eventually kill. Whether this is in the form of a substance or a person, either one may be toxic in your life. At this point, self-reflect: do I really need this in my life right now, can I do without this? In most cases, you know that you can. Get help from a professional, if you need too. Get rid of toxic relationships and toxic habits.
6. Look at yourself from the outside. What do people really see in me?
Now don’t lie to yourself. Look at yourself through someone else’s eyes. What do others see in me? Do they recognize your talents, weaknesses and your failure? It’s all part of being human, there’s no shame in that. But where can I better myself? Am I too moody, too lazy, and too pushy? Am I toxic to others? Then I need to change today.
7. What have I done for someone else today?
I often ask my kids this question. “What have you done for someone else today?” Learning to give to others without expecting anything in return, is crucial for early childhood development. As children, we were thought to be kind, caring and considerate to others. We were taught to be charitable. I believe that it is better to give than to receive; the explosive feeling of joy when the receiver smiles is enough to warm any heart. Let’s be benevolent.
As we journey on with “Do life simply”, we will further unpack the above 7 points together. So, in the meantime….
Talk to yourself, write about your thoughts, express yourself to yourself, and above all, love yourself. ‘Cos to love someone else is to first love yourself!