It’s ten days before Christmas, the tree is up…..hmm, but, no, there is no more to that sentence. Ten days from Christmas and the Covid lockdown has tightened here in the Netherlands. All but essential shops are closed, bars and restaurants remain closed, people are being urged to stay at home, and if you do venture out you are not allowed more than 2 guests in your home. Oh, yes, and schools and daycares are closed.

Normally at this time of year there would be merriment and mulled wine with friends, Christmas parties, festive dinners and Christmas shopping. But this year is different. When the new measures were announced I felt a grey cloud appear over my head, but I didn’t let it linger.

Two Choices

I could wallow in self pity and focus on; how unfair it all is, how sad it is, how I am missing out on so much fun, how hard it is going to be to juggle work and looking after the children, how upset I am that I can’t see my family and continue to focus on all the bad and everything I can’t control


I could take a beat. Allow myself to feel a bit sad for a moment (there is nothing wrong with that) but then decide to shift my focus. Rather than focus on everything I can’t control and all the negative points, I could focus on all the wonderful things I still have in my life and focus on what I could control. I could focus on: how lovely I can spend more time with my children, I can introduce my son to all these wonderful Christmas movies whilst I work, we can have a really cozy quiet time together this holiday season, I will use this time to be a better friend by reaching out to my friends to make sure they are ok, I will learn how to get the most out of my time, I am so lucky to have a wonderful husband and extended family who can help and support me, I am so lucky that during this period we live in a house with heat, internet, tv, books, games and more for the children – I am in fact very fortunate.

Why Does This Matter?

Life is unpredictable and so much of it is out of our control. If we allow ourselves to be hit by everything that is going on around us, life will be so much harder. With the above example if I had chosen to focus on the bad I would feel awful and it would impact those around me. By focusing on the positive in my life and what is in my control, I am happier and enjoying life more. But the reality has not shifted, the situation is still the same, but by changing my perception I am able to change ‘my’ reality.

This is such a simple exercise, but I promise you the impact it has on your life is huge. There will always be ups and downs, but how you choose to react and what you choose to focus on makes all the difference.

How It Works

Next time something happens in your life that is out of your control and you are feeling negative, follow these steps:

  1. Take a beat. Try to understand what you are feeling. Recognise those feelings. It’s not about pushing them away, you need to recognise them first.
  2. Decide what you want to do about the situation. You can’t control it, so are you going to wallow, or do you want to try something different this time?
  3. Make a list of all the wonderful things you still have in your life. And don’t forget all the little things we take for granted like clean drinking water in our homes, heating, internet, telephones to connect with people (depending on where you are from).
  4. Make a ‘shift list’. Rather than all the negative points, how can you shift your mindset to see the good that can come from this situation. Like my example – negative voice; how am I going to deal with work and kids, ahh I’m so stressed. Positive voice; I get to see my kids more, I will show my son lovely Christmas films whilst I work.

This can be used with anything that arises in your life. It is all about changing your mindset to make the situation a better one for you. Stop focusing on everything you can’t control and all the negative points, shift your outlook and you will have a happier more enjoyable life!

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