If the pandemic has left you feeling stuck, jaded, confused and anxious, then perhaps it will be helpful to create a mental road map forwards.
This is something that can be helpful in life generally. I think perhaps we are often if not always evaluating and re-evaluating our way forwards in life. Sometimes people get stuck and drift along in life, but even then there are certain things that keep them moving forwards, even if those are unconscious or not particularly helpful. Maybe their moving forwards is actually going backwards….?
I’ve been thinking a lot about how to move forwards mentally, perhaps because I have been through years of complex PTSD where past and present are terrifyingly intermingled. Even after the worst of that passes and healing begins, my mind is still looking to re-establish reference points from the past, to make sense of things in order to move forwards, and a central part of that is developing and realising my true identity.
I’m learning to replace the lies that broke me with the Truth of Who God says I am that rebuilds, heals and sets me free. This is crucial to me for mental strength and for things making sense as I move forwards.
Throughout our lives we will face questions that we will need to answer for ourselves regarding our core values, our faith, our identity and what matters most to us in life. Many of the most important choices we go on to make will stem from our core values and these deep things in ourselves.
Yet at other times, we just need to try to keep moving ourselves forwards through life, even when nothing makes sense, even when traumatised, so as to survive.
How do we create a mental road map forwards when we don’t know what’s next?
Some of us have key building blocks that we have developed in the past. Building blocks such as faith, values, resilience. Some of the things that help us through uncertain times have been developed in previous ‘fiery trials’ in our lives. Those who have gone through tough times before may find that they are more resilient now.
In terms of a mental road map forwards, I think this is a very personal thing. Something you’ll probably need to figure out on your own in quiet, reflective moments, when you ask yourself those deep questions about your core beliefs and values and if you honestly seek for Truth as you move forwards.
But what kind of stepping stones can we put in place mentally as we move forwards?
There are things to do with our values, and things to do with our practical concerns and responsibilities.
We could list the main elements of our life, or we could choose to simply drift along and see what happens.
In an earlier post I talked about the idea of establishing new habits and discussed how we can effectively maintain these. Our choice of new habits are often underpinned by some core values that we have previously thought about or explored. The outworking of these deep values are in the things itself, the practical choices.
These can help us to continue with our road map forwards.
In creating a mental road map forwards, I’d like to encourage and challenge you and myself with a few key questions:
- What are my core values, do I need to re-evaluate these, and how do I define what is most important to me?
- Can I list some practical ways I can live these values out in my day to day life?
- Have I drifted away from these in the pandemic, and if so, do I need to seek a way back to The Truth and what matters to me?
- What kind of accountability can I seek that will help me live out what is most important in my life?
I think these questions can apply to many areas of our lives. We can consider each life area as a key stepping stone in our mental roadmap. And we can diligently apply and evaluate these on a regular basis so that we stay on track.
I’ve done this kind of self-reflective work for myself in the past, and established key life areas. From these I have distilled some actions that I can take to keep me living these out in practical ways in a day to day basis.
The following aren’t specifically the ones I have for myself, but to help you get started, some of the core things that we all may have as important aspects of life could be:
- Faith / belief / purpose / overall reason for being.
- Family, friends.
- Helping others.
- Wellbeing – mental and physical.
- Goals / dreams.
- Learning / skills / hobbies.
What would be on your list and how can your reflections help you to establish a road map forwards through this pandemic, and through the next phase of your life?