Coming Out of COVID On Top
By Sathiya Sam
I’m not one to get ahead of myself, but everything indicates that sometime in the nearish future, we will have more freedom for the first time in a year and a half. This is not a post about what freedoms mean, but hopefully, you understand the sentiment – the restrictions are lifting.
As an addictions coach, something that I’ve found rather fascinating is how people form habits. It’s not always what you think. In fact, one of my respected mentors at the beginning of the pandemic said, “Be careful how you respond in your day-to-day life, whether you like it or not, new habits are being formed.”
It is inevitable when an environment radically changes that those involved will make adjustments. That’s simply the circle of life. You move to a new house, so you paint the rooms and buy new furniture. You start a new job, so you get acquainted with your new colleagues and workplace. Or in the case of the pandemic – you become confined to your house for every expression of your life and must find a way to cope.
Anytime the environment changes, we do, too. Unfortunately, nobody warns us about these changes. They come unexpectedly, and similarly, nobody is alongside coaching us through it. Instead, we are left to our own devices, and without intentionality, many will find themselves with new habits formed after this pandemic. Some of them desirable, most of them, not so much.
So how do you come out of COVID on top? What if this season kicked your butt? Maybe your marriage is gone. Or your relationship with your kids is strained. Maybe you’re feeling tired. Your mind is tired, your emotions are tired, your body is tired. Perhaps the bank account is looking a little thin. Maybe you found yourself picking up some unwanted habits – netflix binging, social media usage, or maybe worse.
Well I’m here to tell you that regardless of how good or bad this season has been, there is hope. As a matter of fact, this could’ve been the worst season of your life, I’m still quite confident you can come out on top.
Here are three things you can do today to ensure a smooth transition out of the pandemic.
1) Embrace The New Reality (Don’t hope things go back to the way they were)
One of the biggest factors that hold back my clients is the inability to let go of the past. Sometimes it’s big things like abuse, mistreatment, hurtful words, or traumatic experiences. Other times it’s seemingly smaller things like a parent not showing up to a soccer game or not receiving affirmation the way they need it.
These experiences keep my clients STUCK. At the core of their hearts, they long to move on but simply cannot. You might wonder how this could possibly apply to your own life since you do not have an addiction and COVID has only happened recently, but human behaviour always follows patterns.
We gravitate to the way things were for one reason – security. There is tremendous comfort in the familiar. It offers predictability, certainty, and as a result… safety. Yet often our bend towards places of comfort inhibits our own growth. If there is one thing you gather from this blog, let it be this: Your reality before COVID is history, it’s time to create a new one.
This is actually fantastic news.
It’s likely your view of pre-COVID life is a bit inflated at this point. You’ve probably forgotten about all the stress, hassles, and challenges you were facing. Funny how quickly those things disappear when a greater challenge arises. But trust me, your life wasn’t perfect pre-COVID. So instead, harness the power that comes with a change in the environment for good.
What are some of your incomplete goals?
What are your new priorities that rose to the surface during the pandemic?
Have you picked up any new hobbies or interests?
This is your opportunity to invest in these. Remember that if bad habits were formed going into the pandemic, then good habits can be formed coming out. Have a few specific goals or areas you want to focus on as life returns to “normal.”
2) When It Comes To Relationships, Choose Quality Over Quantity
We are likely going to see a pendulum swing once people feel safe to be in public again. We will go from small social gatherings to a plethora of celebrations, parties, and ceremonies. Some of these events will be to make up for lost time (postponed weddings, grad ceremonies, etc) and others will be simply to enjoy being together again.
Take all of it in, but never forget that meaningful connection has little to do with quantity, and everything to do with quality. It is always wise to pay attention to the values of those who are nearing their final stages of life, as often their values reveal what truly matters. Psychology research shows that as you age, those who had deep meaningful relationships had a better quality of life than those who simply had many relationships.
Go to all of the events you want, but always choose quality over quantity. Be intentional about the people you want to forge relationships with. And then, as you’ll hear so often these days, be transparent. Open up your heart. Talk honestly.
Share about the struggles of the pandemic. The struggles you’re experiencing post-pandemic. Be real about it and invite others in. If there’s anything we’ve learned during this time, it’s that authentic conversations are pivotal for our well-being. To be engaged in meaningful connections as we come out of the pandemic will be paramount for making a successful transition.
3) Reconnect With God
This is a big one. I cannot tell you how many people I personally know that are feeling disconnected from the church and disconnected from God. The pandemic certainly revealed how much we rely on in-person connection not only to foster community with one another but also to foster connection with God.
I cannot promise you that going back to the old formats is the answer. I know many think this way, but I have my own reservations. You have nothing to lose by trying, but let me advise that we must guard against becoming more married to the methods than the message.
The way that we experience connection with God will change with time. It will always involve the staples – reading the word, worship, fellowship, prayer, etc. But the methods in which we carry out these elements will change, and I can promise you they will look different post-pandemic.
Keep an open mind and find out what it is that really helps you connect with God. Don’t just settle for what feels nostalgic and familiar. There will be many practices that used to serve you well but now only help you feel comfortable/safe. Instead, ask yourself, “Is this helping me connect with God?” You may need to abandon old practices so that you can embrace new ones. This is a good thing and it is a critical part of spiritual growth.
As a final encouragement, those who most successfully acclimate to new environments are those that are prepared. We don’t know what this change will look like, but we know it’s coming so we can get ready now. As you prepare and set your priorities and as you decide to keep an open mind and try new things, find the things that work and do not depart from them.
The better prepared we are, the better we can come out of the pandemic on top.
Sathiya Sam is a coach that helps men overcome pornography addiction through a systematic process. A recovered addict himself, Sathiya harnesses the power of his story, scripture, and science to facilitate the journey to freedom for men around the world. He is a sought-after speaker and works with high-profile clientele including C-level leaders, medical doctors, and business owners. Find out more at www.sathiyasam.com