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The US is in a massive fruit basket upset…

If you’ve never played the game, it’s probably because you weren’t in my youth group when I was in 7th grade- although, thanks to Google, I’ve found out the game is actually real, and not something our church’s youth director just ‘made up’.  

Here’s the gist: the group sits in a circle in chairs with no arm rests, and each person has a number (1-7).

 Each player is also assigned a fruit- and there are at least 3 people with each fruit.

 One person sits at the center, and brings their chair with them.

 This person calls a fruit, and all people who are assigned that same fruit, must get up and switch seats.  You MUST be in a new seat when you’re done.

 The person in the center can ALSO call a fruit basket upset.  When this happens, EVERYONE has to get up and find a new seat, and the person in the center tries to steal a seat from someone else in the circle, leaving a new person to call the fruits, or, if your group is super competitive, the person in the center is eliminated, and someone new decides to go into the center of the circle.

The place we’re in right now feels like the millisecond after that teenaged crush of mine from youth group yelled fruit basket upset, and I panicked, looking frantically around to see what everyone else was doing and where they were going, and tried to find my place amongst the chaos.

Everything in your life probably feels like it’s been turned upside down.  

 Your favorite restaurant is closed, you can’t see your friends, and you might even be out of work for an unknown amount of time.  That’s upsetting in more ways than one.

Covid-19 has no doubt, completely changed your life, whether or not you will ever come into direct contact with the virus.  Your routine is out of whack, your kids are home from school, and all of the constructs that classify as ‘normal’ (your normal commute, daily rituals, time spent in traffic, face to face meetings, playdates, sports events, social hours, concerts, workouts at your favorite gym)…. Everything is just… well, gone.  Upset. Changed. 

This type of upheaval creates an atmosphere of fear, confusion, and wonder… as in, I wonder what the eff I’m supposed to do with the next 2-8 weeks. You are in the midst of an event that has already completely changed your life- which puts you in a supremely unique position- when everything has changed, so can you.  And if there are parts of your life that weren’t working for you pre-Covid crisis, you have a unique opportunity to explore other options and create real and intentional change- you can grab your new circumstances by the horns, and completely rewire your brain.

Here’s why this is a totally PERFECT time for you to switch things up- 

Your brain operates on well-worn routes called neural pathways that travel in the same patterns over and over again.  It happens like this: you wake up to your alarm, and as you do every morning, you check your messages, alerts, and emails.  You’re bouncing around your feeds and inboxes, bombarded with information, and you anxiously get up- your mind spinning already with information, some you ‘needed’, some you didn’t.  Your choices and reactions were automatic- they didn’t feel like choices. You didn’t think to yourself, I’m going to check this notification now and see what this person has to say… your brain saw a notification, and instantly you needed to check it.  The rest of your day goes along on autopilot- as you’re bombarded with information, people, and situations that you must REACT to. And as long as you’re reacting, you’re not really in control.

This is for one simple reason:

Your most powerful tool (your brain) is on autopilot.  

In a given day, when you’re in your routine, you’ll experience similar thoughts because your stimulus is consistent- and the result?  A predictable, routine-driven life. And now that we’re so enslaved to our electronic devices, we aren’t making choices about what we do, what information we see, and how we spend our time.  This results in hours spent every day in reaction to our circumstances, instead of choosing how we want to be and what we want to do.

This is the unexpected gift of Covid-19: your routine, your entire LIFE has been upset.  This means your whole brain can be rewired, with a little attention and a lot of intention.  You can come out of Covid-19 better than you entered the epidemic, rather than 7 more seasons down the rabbit-hole on Netflix and well-versed on every news article ever written about the virus.

 

This crisis we’re in, is your greatest opportunity to change.

 

Here are some practical tips on how to leverage your time and energy:

 

1. Protect your input  

Make some rules for yourself around your devices.  Some ideas include, only checking the news once per day from a credible source, or deleting apps to simplify your technology usage.  Limit your time spent in any particular app in your ‘digital wellbeing’ settings on your phone- you can set timers to log you out after a certain amount of activity.  Decide only to watch Netflix if you’re watching it with your significant other.

2. Start a journal

Tuning in right now is GOLD.  You may not know what to write about- that’s okay.  Start with how you’re feeling, Then make an account of current events.  Then write about what you want to do with your time. Let it morph into what you’re worried about- and use it as a place to crunch on problems and thing things through.  Journaling is a powerful tool, and when you notice your thoughts getting loud or disruptive, instead of pumping up the music, or pouring another drink, jot a little something down in your journal.  At the very least, you’ll enjoy looking back on this time later.

3. Embrace uninterrupted thinking/dreaming time

Some of the world’s greatest thinkers achieved their status through regular, non-interrupted lengths of thinking and dreaming time.  This time is sacred to your brain and your body- and you your ability to think for yourself literally depends upon it. When you’re always bouncing off of other people’s ideas and thoughts, you’re never fully processing and leaving room for purely creative thought from your beautiful brain.  Let your brain breathe, baby.  

4. Deprogram your social media twitches

AAAH, this one is HUGE.  Our devices and their apps are BUILT to be addictive.  Sure, they didn’t build phones with the original intention of making them an inseparable part of our lives, but now revenues depend on engagement with products, and so, inevitably, we’ve been psychologically duped into addictive relationships with our apps.

We all know that gambling can be an addiction, right?  Well, we’re all literally walking around with a hand-held sized slot machine.  Every notification ding, alert badge, tweet, comment, and like releases a hit of dopamine to your brain, and it leaves you feeling like you want to interact with your device more and more.  Turn off your notifications, and see step one to place some limits and rules on your device use.

5. Dive more deeply into your hobbies and things you love the most

One of the most important things to do when you’re confronted with a time without structure, is to decide what you want to do with your newfound freedom.  Without some plans about what you want to spend your time doing, you will default to the easiest options: Scrolling your devices, texting your friends, drinking, working or looking for work etc.  Make a plan for yourself- didn’t you want to learn how to play that Ukelele that’s sitting in your closet? I bet there’s an online class for that.  

6. Learn something new (like the process of change)  Which brings me to my last tip: Learn something new. 

This one is perhaps my favorite- and I’m personally a make lemonade from lemons kinda gal.  You can turn this terrible experience into your greatest learning and healing opportunity. I’d recommend my online course that helps you navigate transitions like this one- and you’ll come out of the other side with confidence like you’ve never had before, and a plan to implement it all.