Fear and its impact on our thinking!

In evolving through the Coronavirus Pandemic, I have found understanding the process we use to place value on objects and scenarios quite thought provoking. Particularly how our perceptions and feelings ultimately determine how we engage with our environment.

It prompted me to reflect on a walk I took across a bridge in my local area. As you can see from the picture above, it is a reasonably high bridge with an open walkway sitting just below the road above. A viewing platform allows you to look down the river, where the afternoon sun makes it resemble a masterpiece!

You would think that it was such a great opportunity to take and be positive. Simply take one step in front of the other and enjoy the beautiful view down the river.

What happens though when we focus on what might happen?

For example, its an open air bridge and you can see the 35 metre drop down on both sides. That's very high.

Its built with wooden boards, creaking every time you take a step and you can't walk in the middle as there are others walking or riding bikes.

Add in some young children to the mix and as always they decide they want to run everywhere and anywhere with little concern for theirs or your safety!

So a seemingly nice walk out on a beautiful day turns into a fearful and arduous process, in which you can overlay onto others thoughts, emotions and unintended physical responses. The fight or flight response takes over, an increase in heart rate, clammy hands and a steely focus about getting to the other side. All because of the fear that is placed across those aspects we have little control over and the perspective we took on those things that in all likelihood won't happen.

And for all its worth, we made it back in one piece, enjoying a quick photo of the beautiful backdrop halfway across.

Imagine this process now in everyday life. Turning up to work or sport having that type of response for multiple hours a day, within the family dynamic or even relationships we have with others.

How must this play out for your effectiveness or connection in all those aspects?

As referees we often speak of impacting performance by filling our mental capacity with decision making over 80 mins. Split second decisions, players challenging you, complete focus on the game and the physical fatigue continually adding to the contents of the bucket and then impacting how effective we can be as elite decision makers. Any negative thoughts that might creep in only add to the filling of the bucket and the speed at which performance could be impacted.

The current day scenario has returned a lot of "bucket filling" to the forefront of my mind in recent weeks. Fears of not moving past this pandemic, of a different rugby league to go back to and the fear that many have of a job on the line. The list can become exhausting. Add in the fear and messaging driven by whatever platform you are investing into and suddenly your bucket is overflowing without trying too hard.

So back to the bridge and it being a valuable analogy for now and into the future! What do you do to enjoy the walk across or importantly to pivot and pass through the pandemic?

Focus on what will eliminate the unnecessary from your bucket - Catch yourself engaging in negative mindsets and practice changing those thoughts to thinking that will be positive. Avoid engaging in the messaging of fear, particularly around the platforms you engage with. It is there to get you to click, watch and return to click and watch again. Begin to look at your strengths and how these can play out in ways that are innovative

Fill your time with positivity - Finding positive activities that you can do that create connection. These will help create feelings and emotions that will keep your bucket from filling or overflowing.

Read & Listen widely - Keeping a focus on your values and align with those that reinforce what works for you to be a better version of yourself. The importance of taking time to reflect on who you are naturally are will help in finding those people you want to engage with.

Engage and Connect with a wider Audience - Make new friends, seek others to talk to! We now have a different dynamic being behind cameras, which should take some of that fear away of engaging with new people. Having been a part of plenty of webinars they are becoming more engaging as we get innovative with our delivery

Whilst fear can be lurking in the background, if used in the right manner can drive us to be better. Seeking to invest in it to our detriment will only continue to detract from us further by overfilling our bucket and not being able to be the best version of ourselves.

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