As we come out of the Great Lockdown, it is interesting to reflect on the roller-coaster of emotions and experiences that have accompanied the disruption to our relationships both at home and at work in the past few months.
So far as I have seen, we have all had very individual experiences depending on our conditions going into lockdown.
For some, living on their own has been much more of a trial than for those that live with others. We are social creatures by nature. Results of a 2011 United Nations (UN) report raised the question – “Should isolation be permitted under any circumstances?” UN Special Rapporteur Juan E. Mendez concluded in the report that “solitary confinement for more than 15 days…constitutes cruel and inhuman, or degrading treatment, or even torture”. The relaxation of rules will be most significantly felt by this group of folk living on their own – perhaps as if they are not just being let out of solitary confinement but out of prison itself.
Yet others on the key-worker frontline, life has been probably pretty hectic and at times very stressful. Many have used the analogy with the military and are predicting that the stress will start to show itself in longer-term mental health issues such as PTSD.
For others, financial worries have been in abundance – particularly for those leaders in companies who continue to have to make difficult decisions about the future of their employees and contracts whilst they balance their income with their outgoings into 2021. There will be many casualties – particularly for those who are not having restrictions lifting like theatres and live performance venues.
And there are those fortunate ones who have perhaps seen more benefits than stress. Relief from a long commute at the start and end of each day. Closer bonds with family and friends. More time with their children. More community spirit and predictable days if you are lucky to have a job where you can work from home. We’ve been using communications technology in ways that we couldn’t conceive of at the start of 2020 that will change the whole way we think about how and where we work in the future.
With all these changes, we have seen other glimpses of the future. Things that people consider changes for the good that we don’t want to lose as well as the slowing down of life to the point where the decisions we take are more conscious and deliberate. Last week I lost a good friend to the virus. It reminded me of the fragility of all of our humanity and the importance of being far more conscious of nurturing the relationships that are important to me as well as to spend the time I have more wisely.
As human beings, we are an incredibly adaptable species and we will surely adapt ourselves to any so-called “new normal”. But before returning to any type of normal, it is so important for us to meditate a while on the things that have been good about the past three months that we might soon forget.
For me, it has been a time where time was somewhat frozen. I’m not exactly sure what I have achieved during that time. Maybe that was the point? In any case, I have become more conscious of the importance of the things that I promise myself and others – and I have become more determined to follow-through on those promises rather than waste my time on more trivial things that don’t matter.
Please share below any answers to the following questions so we can all learn from the past few months – before we forget and pretend everything has returned to normal.
> What did you learn?
> What are the changes that you want to stick?
> What things are the ones you only happy to let go of?
> How could we make the important changes stick – and not revert to the old patterns?
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