This week, I came across an idea that got me thinking about my actions and mindset during this lock-down. It was about how, in times of anxiety or fear, we tend to focus more on ourselves.
I took a step back from my business last year and had taken time to reconsider what I want to focus on in the coming years. It is only in March/April that I was able to reasonably clarify this. This decision, coinciding with a downturn in the economy from the Corona lock-down, made a previously scary move look positively alarming.
My questions around the future felt more urgent and my failure to find any real solutions made me even more anxious. Looking back, I realised that the more uneasy I felt, the more selfish I got. I started looking at life from the perspective of what I believed it owed me. Haven’t I been a good citizen? Haven’t I been a good mother and wife? Haven’t I worked hard all my life? Where was my return? In every situation, I found something that was not working for me!
When I came across the notion of selfishness in times of anxiety, it did not resonate immediately. After all, I do not consider myself a selfish person. However, as I was talking to a friend who was going through a rough patch, I was able to recognise it in someone else … perfect example of seeing the splinter in my friend’s eye before seeing the log in my own.
Now that I saw the log in my own, I saw my selfishness for what it was, I called it out and instantly felt lighter.
However, something more important has changed, my paradigm.
Some key thoughts have come to me and I hope they challenge you to look deeper at yourself and those around you.
- The Lord calls us to be the salt and light of the earth. Both of these analogies are about improving things other than ourselves – light does not shine for itself, but to illuminate things (and people) around it.
- Salt is an improver. When asked to provide a symbol of something that represents my role in life, I use a saltshaker. A little salt in food, cake, ice-cream or even drinking chocolate goes a long way to improving its flavour. That is what I want to be; the person who improves any situation I am in.
- In 10 years’ time when I look back on this season, do I want my memories to be how much time I spent thinking about a situation I can do little about? I think not. So I am going to make memories. I am not going to ignore my situation, but it is not going to consume me. I am going to spend more time with people for whom I can be salt and light.
- I need more boundaries. Boundaries are the only sure way to freedom. Setting limits to the time I will spend in pursuing work for gain will free me up to spend time in activities for leisure, self-discovery and philanthropy.
The future no longer feels as bleak as it did a week ago.
It now has new possibilities!