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How to Re-Frame Social Distancing as an Opportunity for Self-Reflection

Forgive the already well-worn cliche and hear me out... Life is about perspective. Sure, the lockdown has been going on for quite some time, now. But you can still make it work for you instead of against you. Turn your isolation into self-liberation and embrace the idea of spending more time listening to your own needs instead of others.

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“Many people suffer from the fear of finding oneself alone, and so they don’t find themselves at all.” – Rollo May

Time…

How often have you bemoaned either the quality or the lack of it in your life?

Now it’s here in abundance, what are you going to do? Maybe you’ve found it difficult occupying yourself with the current guidelines that are in place… All of a sudden, you have no obligations – a completely free run to do as you please.

But your home has become a prison.

Except it doesn’t have to be… You’re the one who gives your circumstances their meaning, and thus all it takes is a simple shift to see things in a different light.

Our responsibilities can often be so consuming, the chance to step outside of our bubble is almost non-existent. On more than one occasion, you may have even wished that “the world to just stop in its tracks.”

Well, that wish has now become a reality – at least in the figurative sense. The Earth has come to a complete stand-still.

But what exactly do you get out of this?

Despite the ongoing health concerns and potential damage to the economy, there are some positives you can take from self-isolating – if you’re willing to acknowledge them.

There’s never been a better opportunity to look within and gain perspective on your life.

“In order to understand the world, one has to turn away from it on occasion.” – Albert Camus

However, the one thing that’s holding you back from any form of self-analysis is your perception.

The vocabulary that’s currently being pushed into the public consciousness doesn’t exactly provide reassurance, as phrases like quarantine, lockdown, and self-isolation connote a sense of fear and compliance. Granted, they serve a purpose, and governments do need to be instructional.

But that’s all they are – functional rhetoric.

These terms are there for clarities sake and to keep everyone as safe as possible. They’re necessary as it relates to your physical health. But the idea of an enforced ‘lockdown’ doesn’t do much for your mental, emotional, and spiritual wellbeing.

What’s needed is a creative re-imagining of your circumstances.

As the old adage goes, “when you change your thoughts, so too, do you change your world.”

So imagine this…

You’re now no longer in “lockdown,” but instead on an extended retreat from your work, friends, and family, social obligations, and any other distractions in the form of non-essential material goods and services.

You’re not being denied anything at all.

Now, for the first time in a long time, you’re free from all of it. You can start re-evaluating what you will and will not accept going forward. The whole point here is to give yourself the space to ask yourself some difficult questions.

So, when you do come out of your retreat, you know exactly where you’re heading.

“Never underestimate the power you have to take your life in a new direction.” – Germany Kent

Many of us routinely spend a minimum of 40hrs a week – and sometimes even more – tied to our professions. The scant freedom we do get is often squeezed into the time between the work and sleep part of our day.

Now you’re detached and financial issues aside, can you honestly say you’re eager to get back to work? Employment is just a paycheck for many of us.

It’s essentially a bribe.

We’re working to make someone else better off – someone who, by extension, is already very well off.

During this ‘time-out’ we’re experiencing, there’s never been a better time to reconsider your options.

What would it mean for everything to go back to the way things were?

Could you?

“Don’t be afraid of new beginnings. Don’t shy away from new people, new energy, new surroundings. Embrace new chances at happiness.” – Billy Chapata

However, one of the more immediate challenges you may be struggling with is the loneliness of social distancing. But really, is taking a break from everyone in your social group that bad? Spending time away from certain individuals can actually be a good thing.

Some of our relationships are undoubtedly for life. But others are little more than marriages of convenience forced on us by work and other non-consensual connections.

When you’re in the thick of your routine, there’s a tendency to just, ‘get on with it.’ It’s almost impossible to be liked by everyone we meet. But that doesn’t change the fact that some people are just plain toxic.

By spending time away from the antagonists in your life, you get to experience just how much better off you’d feel without them. You may have noticed this already?

There’s a freeness and a new-found space from not having to censor yourself or walk on egg-shells.

You can just be “YOU.”

“There is nothing more beautiful than seeing a person being themselves. Imagine going through your day being unapologetically you.” – Steve Maraboli

If this period of reflection can teach us anything, then it’s that we’re still the masters of our own reality. Certain choices may be reduced in the short-term. But many of them are largely superficial distractions. We don’t need – or have to accept – as much as we believe we do.

And from that realization comes the opportunity to restructure our lives.

Think of this time as one of rebuilding, strengthening, and preparing for the next chapter of your life. You might never have the chance again. So instead of allowing it to be a roadblock, view it as respite from your duties and responsibilities.

Metaphorically speaking, you’re cocooned within your own bubble of reality – an incubation period. You’re free from the stresses and rigors of your daily routine, and you have all the time you need to prepare for your coming-out party as a more realized version of yourself.

When the current restrictions are eventually lifted, you can either amble back out into the world and accept the same terms as before, or you can burst forward and make a fresh start.

Life is and always has been a choose your own adventure.

Now, is the perfect time to start re-writing your story.

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    People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.

    - MARCUS AURELIUS

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