Lockdown. How to Cope using The Hardicoping Strategy in a Time of Crisis

We all know Hollywood stories of someone who had it ‘all’ and lost it ‘all’ only to really find who they really are at their core.

It’s what Hollywood’s best stories are made of.

We find ourselves in 2020 in the ultimate Hollywood world disaster movie right now.  It’s surreal, it’s scary and most of all, it’s humbling.

I saw a quote somewhere that it feels like

‘the world has sent us all to our rooms to think about what we’ve done’.

Who are you Going to Be?

This is a time where everyone is saying ‘What am I going to do?’ understandably. But a better question might be to ask yourself, ‘who do I want to be?’

This is the time when we see the true core of who people are.  How you react and step up now, will most likely define your life for the coming months and years.

For example the selfish panic buyers, who turn up to buy goods during hours dedicated for healthcare staff and keyworkers.  The people still partying and treating this like the ultimate holiday.

Just recently this morning, I have had a holiday rental company try to charge me extra money for cancelling our holiday, that is completely unavoidable and out of our control. That’s not the sort of person I want to be, or the type of company and brand I want to be part of. I realise of course, people need to pay their bills. But most of us are in that same boat.

We are all fearful during this time of great uncertainty, but as we face this global threat we see two kinds of people emerging.  The ones who care about community, connection and who value love above all else.   And the ones who are in self survival mode.

Some people obviously haven’t heard that the world evolves and grows through altruism. 

Even the smallest act of kindness now is amplified.  A rainbow in a window, a kind word by text to a loved one, staying indoors despite the desperate need to get out, a thank you to those risking their lives on daily basis to keep us all safe. 

People will remember in years to come the people and brands who stepped up, and the people and brands who thought only of personal gain.

So how do we aim to cope with the sometimes overwhelming fear?

The beauty of technology in the modern world is that is makes it possible to connect, grow and contribute even in times of crisis.  This is a true gift.

Secondly we all find ourselves many a time complaining one thing we can not change, but makes us all equal.  TIME.  We all have 24 hours in a day, to either expand, stay the same, or shrink.  It really is that simple.  We have now been given this second gift – time.

Thirdly we have also now been given the ultimate power.  FOCUS.  Lockdown makes it difficult to work for many of us that aren’t on the front line as keyworkers.  The current state of the world means for many of us, we have less to cram in to a day.

Yes we are busy at home keeping children entertained or trying to keep our society, companies, economy going whilst being the best possible teachers and kid’s entertainers, but in the main for those of us that should be staying at home, we should have less places to go and things to do.

The key is what you do with that time, space and energy.

Hardicoping  is a problem-solving approach in which you fix stressful situations by thinking through and taking needed actions to turn them around in a positive direction

I came across it a couple of years ago when I was having a really tough time with a situation in my life that was completely out of my hands, but that I knew I was going to have to embrace it and find a way to expand within it.

I was looking for solutions on how to grow and embrace something that seems like a negative thing at first, and turn it in to something amazing by how you deal with it.

I came across hardicoping.

Hardicoping helps in the following ways

  • Increases your ability to gain some perspective, by opening up new ways of thinking about a problem or crisis
  • Helps you to be more flexible, imaginative and innovative in your thinking. The solutions you come up with help you to grow emotionally.
  • It helps you to evaluate consequences in a way where you feel more in control by realising that you can control your focus, which control your thoughts which control your feelings, which then control your actions, which then further create concequences. 
  • Teaches you how to analyse what is possible, versus what is being presented to you.

Hardicoping encompasses 3 things.

1. Challenge – When faced with a challenge, those with hardicoping skills look for opportunities to grow from it.   Right now that could be as simple as being the best parent, partner, friend, son or daughter or as huge as those people working around the clock to manage this crisis be a healthworker, police, teachers, government or the people looking to create a cure.

2. Control – There is only one way to ‘fix’ stressful situations in which you have little or no control over.  That is how you choose to react to them.

People believe that emotions happen to them.  I used to as well. 

But the truth is we can have full control of our emotions when we engage a key skill that is now more crucial than ever, but is often made difficult by how busy our lives are.  FOCUS.

3. Focus – what you focus on, you plug energy in to.  Focus on the scary stories, your social media feed, and how you have no control over this.  Focus on the people dying and obsess over the numbers.  You are going to feel fear.

Instead look for the positive stories of kindness around the world.  Use your creative energy to figure out where you can contribute right now.  The answer might lie in your own home or community with your kids, partner, neighbours, friends, clients, colleagues, employers or pets. 

How can you make life better right now?

Focusing on this question – how can I make life better for myself and others right now?  Will make you feel more in control, happier because you are helping others (and that feels good) and help you connect on a deeper level with those around you, or perhaps those you have never met.

It’s easy to be positive and a ray of sunshine when your life looks good, and things are carefree.  The real challenge comes in maintaining this attitude when all of a sudden the world looks a lot bleaker and there’s only so much we can do.  But the key is we CAN do as much as we can do, and should in order to help the world come through this AND to feel connected and contribute to something greater than ourselves.

look after your health in every way

The Technique

Grab yourself a pen and paper and start writing the answers to the following questions.  Try not to think too much.  Just start writing.

What about this situation is stressful (not a tough one to answer here!) and who is involved? 

E.g. For example you could write, keeping my children in the house 24-7 is stressful.  Being with my partner 24-7 is stressful.  Having the pressure of entertaining the kids is overwhelming, not being able to have any time on my own to do things I usually enjoy.  Lack of contact with people I enjoy seeing.  Worries about how we will pay next months bills.

In which way could your problems be worse?

E.g. Could be homeless or not have any access to the outdoors at all, I could be sick or have nobody in my life who cares about me.

In which ways could the situation be better?

E.g. I could have a more organised house, better behaved kids, a healthier body and more regular communication with those I care about outside of our home.

What has to change within the situation, or in YOU, in order to bring the better situation in to life?

Relate your answer tightly to step 3.

I can’t control the situation or what other people do, but I can control where I put my focus, which will affect what I’m thinking about, which will influence how I feel and therefore create different behavior.

I can focus more on myself and what I can do, rather than judging others for what they are not doing or doing ‘wrong’.

What specifically can you do to make this happen?

E.g. I can limit my time on social media and watching the news to 1 hour per day.  Phones get put away unless to contact other people directly through messaging.

When it comes to entertatiing the kids, I can take it hour by hour, rather than planning a whole day of activities that is likely to go wrong and make me feel frustrated.

I can stick to the instructions of the government so I know I am helping and doing my bit.

I could try new healthy recipes for my children I’ve always wanted to do, get them involved in the gardening and other simple activities rather than be on their tablets and phones all the time.  I could use this opportunity to teach my kids about kindness, altruism and pulling together as a team.  We have the chance to actually connect as a family and use this as a way to bond and connect with other families around the world.  I could do one nice thing for everyone in my house today.  I could get the kids involved in helping me to sort through the garage / attic / wardrobes / old toys and sell them on eBay (which might help financially).  I could do technology free times throughout the day where we all sit and read a book, play a game together or eat meals as one that we have all prepared together.

If I can not do anything about my main job and income right now, I will dedicate time today to brainstorm where I can add value through my role or business, in a way I have never considered before.  I will look for the opportunities to cut costs, make food last longer, reduce bills and sell some second hand items (that have been well disinfected!)

Based on what you have written, where is your anxiety or stress coming from?

E.g. My stress is coming from focusing on all the things I can’t control and feeling overwhelmed by the gravity of the situation and how it could impact those I love.  If I change my focus to the things I can control as often as possible, I can contribute to wider society, connect more deeply with people and find more opportunities to create security for myself and my family, and fun and variety throughout the day via my creativity. 

Is there therefore, a resolution in sight?

“Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.”

Mahatma Gandhi  

Just Do You

You can’t live by your values if you’re living for the approval of others or spending all your time judging them. Do what feels right in your true heart.

Let your stress over other people go. When people show you who they really are, believe them.  They will do what they will do regardless of what you say or post on social media (or in fact what they post themselves on social media) …

The fact is everyone is clear on who we need to be now.  The choice is ours, individually, and ours alone.

People don’t care about what you do.  Not really.  Not at the core.

Read that again.  People don’t really care about what you DO. 

People care about how you make them FEEL through your actions.  So choose them wisely.

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