The human brain does not like a lot of ambiguity and uncertainty. Understanding this principle brings some clarity to the panic and anxiety caused by the current Covid-19 situation. I just returned from multiple speaking engagements that afforded me the opportunity to enjoy time in England, Germany, and Poland. My presence in Europe allowed me to think about the Covid-19 pandemic from varying points of view. None of the places I visited were on the “hot spot” list of areas; however, you could see the growing international concern. Returning to the United States within days of the travel ban taking effect, ushered me into the flurry of reactions that were sparked from concerns of cancellations and closings.
The human brain is significantly more comfortable with routine and predictability. Routine and predictability are the very components disrupted by the Covid-19 restrictions. Yet this time of disruption is also a time of opportunity. You can refocus your brain away from the uncertainty by exerting your own scope of control into the situation. To do so, you must ask your brain strong and commanding questions. Questions to the human brain are like dancing to a Jamaican. They simply can’t resist (I was born in Jamaica ? ).
- One possible question to ask yourself is, “How can I be part of the solution?” What do you have, or what can you contribute to the current circumstance that would be considered part of solving the problem versus contributing to the problem? Is there someone who could use your help? Whether it is your time, knowledge, or other resources, how can you contribute? When we ask our brains these questions during times of uncertainty, it prompts the brain to change our thinking from focusing on what is happening to us to thinking about areas in which we have some control. This refocus activates areas of the brain that often motivates us to positive action.
- Given travel and work restrictions, many people now have more time available than they anticipated having just a month ago. Make a list of the 5-10 people who would love to hear from you and call them. Whose spirit would be lifted to know that you cared enough to call? Not texting or emailing but purposefully calling them. There is a sense of reassurance and value that they will feel from hearing your voice that cannot be equally portrayed in a text or in print. Leave a voicemail message if necessary.
- Set aside some time for thinking. The human brain is at it’s best when it slows down. You become more innovative, creative, and reflective. Use this time to fantasize about what this year could look like. What if it were December 2020, and you were reflecting on the last 12 months, and you concluded that it had been a phenomenal year? What would have happened to make you draw that conclusion? As I encourage in my published books, writing down goals and objectives is vital to your success. Visualize it and then write it. What if someone gave you unanticipated free time over the next 4 weeks to get something awesome done, what would you do? Write that down as well.
Generate your own predictability by creating renewed purpose in the face of anxiety. Many people will be tempted to only look inward during these times of uncertainty. Your brain will respond in a much healthier manner when answering questions that lead you to be part of the solution and not part of the problem.