Living in the “AND”

How are you this fine Monday morning? In the UK are you returning to the office today for the first time? Coming out of shielding after many months?

Or have you just had your lockdown reintroduced, due to your postcode? Or are you now planning 14 days self isolation after your visit to Spain?

Easing out of Covid 19 is definitely non linear.

Until a vaccine or robust treatment is available, a new way of life with social distancing, handwashing and facemasks is likely for at least the next few months. It doesn’t feel great all the time, does it. Sometimes a little daunting…

Topping up our personal resilience must be a continuing, important priority. I attended a recent webinar about Happiness in Dark Times by Dr Maria Sirois, hosted by Action for Happiness.

Her talk grabbed me from the beginning. Straight away we were encouraged to ask ourselves this question:

What can I do today that will:

  • Nourish me
  • Strengthen me
  • Inspire me.

Her philosophy is that we have do the choice to shape our day, that hope comes from action and one of our tasks, particularly at the current time, is to learn to hold the negative and positive together.

Given that our world clearly does include both negative and positive, we can learn to bridge between them with the genius of the “AND”. Anything else is a denial of our all aspects of our context and reality.

Maria’s suggestion was that we should name our negative thought(s) as they arise, and then continue and complete our sentences with “AND”.  We can allow the “AND” to be something positive, even if it is only tiny or slight. Your “AND” must be true for you personally, not true for someone else.  

It can take time to find the positive, you may need to allow it to surface for you.

Here’s an example from my own experience.

Even in the most negative moments of lockdown, when things felt impossibly hard, my “AND” was that I allowed myself my feelings. This felt both new and great progress from earlier in my life when I would freeze, go numb, cold and silent inside. It felt as if it was the beginning of a different kind of bridge with others, and a different way of staying connected positively with myself.

Maria developed her talk with two more ideas:

  1. Look for the Best Moment in Every Day. Write this down before you go to sleep for at least the next 30 days. Maybe this is something you and I could both do in August?
  2. Look for the progress and gains we have made, that we are on our way, if our destination feels too out of reach. Write these down too. For example, did we at least go for a walk today, even if we didn’t do a 5K run or a full return to pre-lockdown fitness?

Finding the best of ourselves in our worst moments of life and work, and allowing the “AND”; somehow this softens the worst, without denying its existence. It allows us to stay engaged with the best of us, our positive core, which can give us hope for the future.

My photos represent some of my best moments in lockdown, where looking at them again helps me remember what is alive and important in me. You may notice some patterns and themes:

  • The first day I saw my daughter again after lockdown (coincidentally on Father’s Day!)
  • My hairdresser sitting 2m away instructing my husband on how to dye my hair (she needs a new career – she’s good!)
  • My first socially distanced walk with my close friend, Kim
  • Seeing my older son cut my husband’s hair (hysterical!)
  • The first time our friend Ros and her daughter Tilly came to see us again and sat in our back garden
  • My daughter and her boyfriend going on my husband’s motorbike on her birthday (a slight moment of next generation here, which, err, wasn’t so good, although lovely to see…)
  • Coffee and cake half way through a walk with my two boys, which was a total pleasure.

These together with walking with many other of my good friends and rediscovering reading, have been some of my most significant “AND” moments during this pandemic so far. They nurture, sooth and strengthen me, make me laugh and are available to fall back on when the next tough moment arrives.

They represent activities and connections that I can plan into my week, my month.

How might these ideas work for you? If you want more depth, you can take a look at the whole webinar here:

So here’s my question for you.

As we move into the uncertainties, complexities and challenges of August, what can be your “AND” to top up your personal resilience during these weeks and days, and beyond?

Gill How loves to help leaders, managers and professionals stretch and grow. She is a Master Executive Coach and Innovative Leadership Developer currently working face to face and virtually in the UK and internationally. Please contact her for an exploratory conversation if you think she can help you develop resilience and succeed with your COVID secure goals.

“As a Master Executive Coach, Leadership Developer and Trainer, Gill is outstanding. She engages delegates/clients and helps them grow by instinctively using just the right amount of ‘stretch’ to get immediate insight and results. I have worked with Gill for over a year now and she is one of the most gifted and genuine people you’ll come across. She is absolutely committed to her own growth, is great fun to work with, delivers insightful feedback to her colleagues, has a sharp mind and is always willing to help. I highly recommend that you talk to Gill if you’re looking for a Learning and Development Professional/Master Coach with extensive experience and knowledge. She will challenge and support you in taking action whilst helping you to see things from a new, enlightened perspective. “

Alison Roberts, now Senior Programme Manager, Leadership & Management, Institute of Mechanical Engineers

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4 Comments

  • Paul Curran says:

    Another great blog Gill AND very positive. It’s great that you can sidestep the impending turbulence, looking instead to the world beyond. For myself I’m more battling in the trenches in the hope of stopping the madness without being consumed by it. I’ve taken to posting my blogs on my FB page since I lost the ability to post on my website last December. Today’s post ‘Slow Motion Train Wreck’ is a lot darker than yours – but then it often rains in Northern Ireland. Nice Bike 🙂

  • Great blog Gill. Your blogs always leave me feeling inspired. Very sensible advice and I will be taking time to consider what my AND is. Thank you for sharing this wisdom.

    • Gill How says:

      Thank you, Christine! I’ve really enjoyed working with you with the strengths workshops for Women in Transport, and all the effort you put in there too!

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