Neuroscience researchers have shown us that a threat to autonomy is perceived in the brain the same way that a threat to life is perceived. When you sense a lack of control, you feel like you can’t influence outcomes. Who hasn’t experienced that in the current world of COVID?
Autonomy is the freedom to make choices or exert control over your environment. When we feel more autonomous, we’re much more resistant to stress–and when we feel less autonomous, we can interpret the same set of circumstances as much more stressful.
According to a report by The Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, the top contributor to happiness is “autonomy.” This is one of the big challenges of this season of life. There is a perception that we no longer have control over our lives.
Here are a few thoughts on regaining control and reclaiming autonomy:
- While it’s true that there are many things you no longer have choice over, think about what you still can control (what you eat, when you sleep, who you talk to…). Shift your focus from what has been taken away from you >>> to areas that you do have control over to regain autonomy.
- You are in charge of your response to the changes that are being imposed upon you. What is working for you during this time? What lessons have you learned? What do you want to stop, start, or continue as you think about the new year approaching?
- Set boundaries for work and home life, especially if you are working remotely in your home. Consider how you spend your time and decide how you will invest it. What do YOU need to be successful in your work environment? Get clear on what matters and then ask for it.
- Think about the areas of life where you can define your destiny and remember you are the boss of you! Define a new project, set a deadline and take control of an area of your life.
COVID may have robbed you of your perception of control. Steal it back and make decisions about how you are going to live, who you are going to be and what you will accomplish during this time. You can use this season to accelerate changes you want to make or you can settle into being a victim of the circumstances. What will you choose?