Through COVID I have been listening to a podcast called “Unlocking Us” created by Dr. Brené Brown, a research professor who has spent the past two decades studying courage, vulnerability, shame and empathy, and is the author of five #1 New York Times bestsellers. Through each episode, Brown “unpacks and explores the ideas, stories, experiences, books, films, and music that reflect the universal experiences of being human, from the bravest moments to the most brokenhearted.”
A recent interview with Dr. Edith Eger, a Holocaust survivor, psychologist and New York Times bestselling author, made me think about this freedom narrative. Dr. Eger writes in “The Gift: 12 Lessons to Save Your Life” that “Many of us experience feeling trapped in our minds. Our thoughts and beliefs determine, and often limit, how we feel, what we do, and what we think is possible.” Some of these mental prisons can be victimhood, avoidance, self-neglect, guilt and shame, unresolved grief, rigidity, resentment, paralyzing fear, judgment, hopelessness, and not forgiving.
Dr. Eger teaches that finding your mental freedom is a lifetime practice, a choice we get to make again and again each day. Ultimately, freedom requires hope, which Eger defines in two ways: the awareness that suffering, however terrible, is temporary; and the curiosity to discover what happens next. Hope allows us to live in the present instead of the past and to unlock the doors of our mental prisons.
COVID has affected us all.
At one point or another it forced us to stop in our tracks and reflect on life and ourselves. We were used to running around from one thing to the next, avoiding some of the mental prisons that locked us, but perhaps COVID’s lockdown was a time of reflection for you, as it was for me. A time to slow down and reshape my new normal. A time to tend to my mental health and needs and accept the changes taking place all around me. Dr. Eger suggests doing “one thing differently today than you did yesterday.
These small steps might seem inconsequential, but they actually train your brain to know that you are capable of change, that nothing is locked in stone.” Are you evolving or revolving?
Michal Bonell is the AJT senior account manager and team supervisor.