Measuring Success in the Age of COVID
by, Haley Broadaway
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are currently over 10 million people unemployed in the United States. Many Americans prioritize their notion of success with their occupation. It is no wonder that individuals struggle with the internalized feeling of failure during this time of economic distress. If this resonates with your current emotional status, please note that you are not alone.
Merriam-Webster defines success as a "favorable or desired outcome." Then, it extends to describe it as "the attainment of wealth, favor, or eminence." It is critical to look at the definition at its core during this pandemic and not emphasize it. When tackling the issue of measuring success, it is necessary to address a common mental roadblock. Before beginning this process, it is fundamental to acknowledge the importance of patience, kindness, and self-affirmation. It is no simple task when you are in a state of emotional distress. Take it one step at a time and remember: Success is not how big the win is. It's merely letting ourselves have the win without diminishing it.
Negativity bias is a natural phenomenon where unfavorable circumstances and adverse ideas have more impact than equally occurring positive ones.
It is why we may:
Hold onto insults better than praise
Have stronger reactions to negativity than positivity
Recall traumatic experiences better than positive experiences
Expect others to react negatively towards us
Overcoming Negativity Bias
Noticing negative thought patterns while they occur can be difficult. I invite you to be cognitively mindful of your thought process throughout the day and see if you can acknowledge any surfacing negativity bias. In general, being aware can be a vital preventative, but it is equally important to know how to overcome negativity bias.
Break the Pattern: Rewiring the brain takes time and does not happen overnight. Being self-aware of those negative thoughts as they come up can assist when that spiral is about to start. To break the pattern, do something else: play a game, listen to a good beat, engage in reading something you enjoy, water your plants, or play with your pet. In general, Do. Something. Else.
Reframing: Take a moment and think of something positive when negative thoughts are catching like wildfire. Mindfully being aware of negative thoughts and attempting to balance them with positive reviews is a means of cognitive reframing. Cognitive reframing can help reduce stress and make space for you to acknowledge your wins.
Self-Affirmation: You have no control over the past. It is easy to beat yourself up over things you have said, done, or what was said/done to you. Instead, think about what you learned from the situation and how you will apply those lessons in the future.
Positive Moments: Relish them, really sit with them, and allow it to sink in and feel how good it feels. Allowing time to sit with joyous moments, no matter how big or small, means they are easier to recall when we need them, thus combating negativity bias.
What does any of this have to do with measuring success? Everything. Due to our capitalistic society's current state, I ask you not to measure success by monetary gains. Many people indeed take a lot of pride in feeling accomplished by the size of their bank accounts, but for most, it is just not feasible due to the unemployment crisis. Focusing on small "favorable or desired outcomes" can help build a sense of success that some have been searching for during this difficult time.
In conclusion, when you sit in a positive space, it is easier to feel accomplished about milestones that may have gone unnoticed or may have felt insignificant in your pre-COVID lifestyle. Feeling worthy amid current circumstances and connecting with yourself and others while social distancing is a success in and of itself. Continue to be patient, kind, and self-affirming; it will go a long way
If you are struggling to apply these tactics, there is no shame in talking to someone to help use these methods. We here at Mindfulpath Inc are here to help. Reach out to our staff and let us know how we can serve you during this difficult time.
Stay safe and healthy,