Losing self-doubt and the pressure to ‘get it right’ might help us through Covid-19

I don’t know if it’s a universal human phenomenon or a product of our busy, share-everything-online modern culture. But sometimes, getting things wrong or ‘wasting’ opportunities feels like a crime. I was reflecting the other day about how much pressure we put on ourselves to ‘make the most’ of life. Even in our down time we are obsessed with efficiently ‘making memories’. I might be dog-tired, but feel guilty and disappointed for watching TV all evening rather than making handmade soap or painting the bathroom.

Personally I know I can get a bit obsessed with ‘getting it right’ and not wasting time or energy. Often it mean’s I’m quite efficient, but it can also make me indecisive and cross when things don’t turn out right. When it comes to the current pandemic situation, I’m realising that this worry about making the right choices has made me doubt my decisions and actions in an unhealthy way.

I don’t think I’m alone in this – I’ve noticed that the Covid-19 is bringing out our obsession with ‘getting it right’ as a society. I wonder if there is a case for chilling out a bit and allowing ourselves and others to make mistakes without instant judgement and panic?

I’m not talking about willingly doing destructive things, like choosing to go to a bar when we’ve all been explicitly asked not to. What I mean is that we should all have confidence to make decisions based on the knowledge we have, and have peace in those decisions. Part of the issue we currently face is that information is constantly changing and hard to keep up with. So we need to allow ourselves space to find our way through.

Since last weekend I’ve been self-isolating due to my health issues and we decided to take the children out of school on Tuesday. It felt awful and I spent most of Monday night going backwards and forwards on whether we’d made the right call. But I realise now it was wasted energy. Even if we had made the wrong decision, it is not the end of the world.

Another example: we realised yesterday that we had not been fully following the government’s SI advice. This was completely unintentional but I felt kept kicking myself about it. But the thing is, we were doing the best we could with the knowledge we had and I had to accept that that was enough. I will not always get it right.

It’s a particularly tricky time for parents who have confused, scared and disappointed children at home. There are so many social media posts out there (that all intend to be helpful) on what you should be doing while the kids are off school. Everyone has a strong opinion – make a routine/have no routine, maintain strong discipline/go soft on behaviour issues. Seeing so many opinions can leave us feeling conflicted and unsure of ourselves. I’m realising can’t afford to go down the rabbit hole of trying to get it perfectly right.

We have made a plan for what to do with the kids, as I mentioned in my last post. We’re trying our hardest to create a safe, happy and purposeful environment for them and I refuse to get caught up worrying about whether our plan will cause damage down the line. If it’s not working, we’ll change and adapt. I’ll take suggestions for activities with both hands, but I won’t beat myself up because I’m not doing exactly what that Facebook post says I should.

So what do I think we need to do differently? As individuals we need to lose self-doubt and stop worrying about getting it wrong. As communities, this crisis requires us to step up and support each other, not undermine and judge. If someone puts some unhelpful advice out or shared information from a dubious source, be kind and helpful in correcting them.

I’m finding this week that conviction and flexibility can go hand in hand, and might help us find our way through this difficult period.

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