After three months in lockdown you may be greeting the gradual easing out of restrictions with joy and celebration as you take back control. You can’t wait to head down the pub and see your friends. Or you might be feeling anxious. Is it too much too soon? Do you feel safe?
There is a Cognitive Hypnotherapy model I use with my clients called ‘Locus of Control’. Bear with the jargon because this can be very helpful. If you have an external locus of control (ELOC) you believe that control over situations lays outside of yourself. That means that there is not much you can do to make any situation better. You feel powerless. It becomes very stressful.
If you have an internal locus of control (ILOC) you believe that there is always some action you can take in any situation. You understand what is within your control and what is outside and take action accordingly.
The first stage of lockdown was very ELOC. There were tight rules around what you could and couldn’t do. If you have an ILOC approach you understood the limits of your control. You could decide to stick to the rules, wash your hands regularly, stay indoors, keep your distance, exercise regularly and eat healthily. If you have an ELOC approach it might have felt like there was nothing you could do but worry and wait for things to get back to normal.
Moving towards ILOC
Now we are in a stage where individual control is being handed back to us. We are being asked to be more ILOC and make decisions about what we are prepared to do and not do. That may feel comfortable or very uncomfortable.
A risk management approach can help you to get worries about the future into perspective. If you find yourself worrying about a future event, think about the benefits associated with the event and then the risks associated with it. For example: meeting your friend at the pub.
Assess the likelihood of the risk you are worrying about happening. For example: Is the risk of you catching the virus by meeting your friend low, medium or high?
Assess the impact of the risk happening. For example: would the impact be low, medium or high?
If both your responses are in the medium to high range it’s time to assess the benefits of what you are considering. For example: Would you rate the benefits from meeting your friend low, medium or high?
If the benefits are medium or high and you want to go ahead, what can you do reduce the impact or likelihood of the risk occurring? For example: could you wear a face mask, sit at least 2 metres apart, sit in the pub garden, go at a time when it won’t be busy?
Finally, you can decide whether the benefits outweigh the remaining risks.
If you need more help taking back control and managing your risks, talk to me.