Guest AuthorRaja Jamalamadaka

Strengthening our mental health – Learnings from Covid

By | Raja Jamalamadaka | Industry speaker | Neuroscience coach | Marshall Goldsmith awardee | Author | LinkedIn Top voice | IIT | Harvard

Last week, I received a call from Ravi – an entrepreneur. His venture was struggling and COVID-19 seemed to have worsened the business outlook. Expecting the worst, I went to the call prepared to boost his confidence.

Contrary to what I had expected, Ravi sounded optimistic and very confident about the future. How did this miracle happen? 

Here is Ravi’s narration –

“I used the COVID challenge to turn the spotlight on my biggest challenge. No, not on my business strategy, competitors, market dynamics or funding challenges. I focused on myself. I soon realized that “I” had been my biggest obstacle – my tendencies of self-doubt, self-pity, faultfinding, distrust, aggressive personality, putting others down and superiority complex turned out to be bigger challenges than COVID. Even more surprising, I found it much easier to protect myself from corona virus – social distancing, masks, wash hands, staying home – but the virus of “negativity in my brain” turned out much harder to tame. The negativity virus went wherever I did, making social distancing from “negativity” virus nearly impossible, I couldn’t “wash my hands” off it since it was part of my brain and I could no mask to protect myself from my own negativity. While tons of pharma companies were scurrying to find the much-needed vaccine for COVID19, I could find no known organization in the world making an attempt at finding a cure for “brain negativity”, although I knew negativity led to more living “brain-dead” people than any other disease. Frankly, as I recollected episodes from my life that showed how much I had been under control of my own reactive tendencies, I found living with lockdown and corona virus way less painful than living with this negativity virus. 

With a clear goal of handling this “negativity” virus, I spent time analyzing myself. But how do I handle it? I decided to use the same techniques as the ones being prescribed to stay away from Corona –

1. Social distancing – I decided to keep AWAY from anyone from whom I got negative vibes or who spread negativity. I realized association with such people stoked my own negativity. 

2. Practice good mental hygiene and washing hands often – After EVERY interaction with others, I resorted to washing my brain – reading positive leadership books and listening to inspiring podcasts. I stressed the “often” part, I soon realized that the more often I read or listened to inspiring stuff, the less I stayed negative. 

3. Staying at home when mentally sick – As I analyzed myself, I found that when I got negative, I threw the misery on others and made “otherwise positive people” negative. This realization led me to “stay at home” every time I got negative, so as to prevent infecting others.  

4. Contact tracing – I decided to use mental contact tracing extensively. I found my negative tendencies always started with some initial “infected trigger” incident. Overthinking spun it out of control. As soon as I saw a spurt in my “overthinking” cases, I used mental contact tracing to identify this initial infected case that led to it. I isolated those infected triggers to prevent them from infecting other positive aspects of my personality. Later, I “cured” those “infected” triggers – by replacing them with positive habits. For example, instead of wallowing in self-pity, I tried to observe my strengths that could help handle the same situation better. 

5. Vaccine – I decided to invest time in discovering my own vaccine to handle this negativity virus – I found yoga helped me stay mentally and physically agile. I stopped reading mails just after waking up. I mandated an 8-hour peaceful sleep for myself. I also started having my meals on time. Reading inspiring material, while simultaneously avoiding the negative stuff, became a habit. I also cultivated a mentor fulltime and had periodic conversations with him. I mandated a 20-minute “me” time every night where I analyzed myself – I used this time to express gratitude for all the positive aspects of the day and identified the changes. For the sub-optimal aspects of my personality, I used this “me-time” to identify changes to be made the following the day onwards.  

Three months into the lockdown, I have stayed safe, from both viruses – Corona and negativity. Was COVID situation an adversity? It was, but it turned out to be a great opportunity for me. Napolean Hill said it right

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Ravi’s called me for mentorship – after his call, I sought his counsel.

Republished with permission and originally published at Raja Jamalamadaka’s LinkedIn

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