It’s no secret that COVID-19 has defined 2020. Given that no one alive today has ever gone through anything like this before, no one can be expected to navigate this situation from a place of experience. Working to maintain a semblance of normalcy has become the nationwide, full-time job. We’re all putting in overtime yet few, if any of us feel like we’re receiving the compensatory time and a half return. I don’t know about you but, putting in that much work to try to maintain yet still struggle or fall drastically short is both tiring and discouraging. With just getting-by being this hard, happiness and/or progress felt almost impossible.
At the start of COVID, my external life was pretty much in cruise control. I was making sufficient money, I had buddies that came over weekly for a card game, and I would go out to catch live shows (music) with friends whenever possible. I’d heard about COVID but because I don’t follow the news, because I value my sanity, I didn’t know how serious it was. On March 17th that all changed, I was laid off from my weekend gig and the town was to shut down by the weekend. Hang outs were adamantly discouraged so everyone stocked up on food and toilet paper and shut themselves in their homes with their families, partners, and roommates. As a recovering alcoholic that deals with depression and anxiety and lives alone, the loss of much needed income and vital social interactions (connection) felt like a weight too heavy to carry.
It didn’t take long for the uncertainty looming over each day and the endless amount of time to stew in my thoughts to send me into a deep depression. From that place I looked to cope in poor-choice company, things, and home improvement projects. Though the house stuff was definitely productive, playing Ben the toolman Taylor, Prime purchases, and women were nothing short of distraction activities (distractivies). They worked in the moment, kind of, but then it was right back to misery. It was when I remembered the concept of Agreement or Alignment that I could make a real attempt to reshape my COVID experience.
This is kinda where my nerd brain kicks in...enjoy the ride.
Agreement or Alignment (AoA) is this thing I came up with. I don’t know if you’d call it an idea, a theory, whatever, basically, I use it to help me manage how I think and feel about things. A perception processor, if you will. How it works for me, I know that everything I will ever experience I can only feel one of two ways about. Either I like it or I dislike it. Obviously the degrees vary but it all starts with like or dislike. Once I’ve put the situation in the appropriate category, applying AoA is simply changing the headings of those categories from “Like” and “Dislike” to “Agreement” and “Alignment” and then I have action steps.
Agreement is the easy part. If I like it, I have 3 options from there. 1) leave it as it is and it goes how it goes 2) do just enough to maintain it or 3)do the work to improve it. Personally, I waiver between 2 and 3, but I try to lean more towards 3. Now if I don’t like it, I change that category to Alignment and that’s exactly what my next step is, ALIGN. If I can't do anything to change the situation (ie COVID), the next best thing to do is use my energy to find out how I can work with the situation to benefit me.
“So I outsource the blame as though a source out there can fix it. Looking within to do the work is more effective than bitching.”- Me
My common response to things I dislike is to get angry, scared, or hurt. From there, I find the thing/person to blame and I put my energy and efforts into hating it/them and using that to justify inaction-inducing misery. Fun fact, changing how I look at a situation immediately offers me an entirely new batch of actionable options. Here’s how it works (shortened):
To wrap this up before it gets too long, the two things I hope to convey are that dislikeable stuff is inevitable and that wallowing in the misery-inducing objection to them is a choice. Maybe AoA isn’t going to be the method that works for you, but if reading this can steer your thinking more towards solution-seeking than disapproval evaluation, it’s a step in the right direction.