by Rebecca and Helena (Seminar Wise Interventions)
Home Office, remote work, distance learning – circumstances we and you, if you’re reading this right now, are confronted with since the Corona-Pandemic entered our daily lives. At first interesting and new, after three weeks in, you don’t know where and how to sit on the couch and on
top of that you might have a feeling of losing the focus to accomplish goals. This is a very common and often reported circumstance by people who are working or learning from home.
In the following, we want to share our experience about Wise Interventions (WI), how we changed feelings of being unable to accomplish anything into being able to reach our goals and being responsible for the accomplishment.
WIs try to understand the development and the circumstances of situations. Some Interventions try to give the situation a new and sane meaning: for instance, that the factors that cause a specific struggle are not fix but controllable.
Attributional Retraining is one way to form a new meaning to the situation by replacing unhelpful explanations about e.g. your academic performance. Those explanations will help to improve and enhance motivation.
Other WI have different approaches and aim to e.g. increase
commitment through action.
This step is probably the hardest, though the most important one. Try to think of an academic situation (e.g. learning, taking a test, exam, presenting a speech), image you failed in this situation. What would be your explanation for the failure: Would you blame others, look for an excuse or just label yourself as “unable”? If your thinking is maladaptive (e.g. “I can’t get my shit done, because corona virus keeps me from being productive.”) it can prevent you from reaching your goal (e.g. concentratedly writing your bachelor thesis). In other words: It may be not the situation itself, but your thoughts and feelings about the situation that prevent you from reaching your goal.
You’re the “controller” of your life: Yes, COVID-Restrictions are a mess and being alone is also very hard to undergo. But, have a look around your flat: what are things that you could be in control of? Is there a bulb in need of replacement, is your place untidy? Two examples of easy things to fix. Once you’ve taken such tiny steps you will learn that difficult circumstances won’t stop you. From this point on you can take care of your studying environment: what are the due dates, which exams do you have to write and when?
As we told you, a very important factor for reaching your goal is how you think and feel about your situation. And again: You can choose, how you think! So now that you identified your maladaptive self-defeating belief, think about a better alternative. Let´s say you, for example, weren´t too productive since the lockdown started. Now you belief you were so unsuccessful because of the lockdown – a Situation you can´t change right now? Not helpful, right? A better way of thinking would be: “I maybe was not too successful until now – but it was because I though I cant´s reach anything during lockdown! I can become more successful because I know, that I can – if I chance my mindset!”
Sounds like unhelpful nonsense to you? Well… it is not! Asa matter of fact, studies could show, that if students believed that willpower was unlimited (or were manipulated to implicitly think so) they were indeed less exhausted after a strenuous task – compared to students who believed willpower was limited.
Once you are aware of the self-defeating believes and theoretical made up
some alternative thoughts about your situation, it doesn’t mean that you’ll integrate the just learned in your daily life. Here’s a trick to bypass: tell a friend with similar maladaptive believes about the steps. Explain them passionately what you learned (and maybe recommend our blog ) and try to convince
them: That they can be much more productive because they can choose, how they think!
But why do we want you to do this?
There´s a phenomenon called “Cognitive Dissonance”. It happens, when our actions don´t fit with our beliefs. But we usually want to see ourselves as consistent. So, if you tell your friend about itand advocate for it, you are more likely to indeed act in a way to accomplish your goals – because
you want to avoid to act different from what you said.
As we were hit by the consequences of the corona-pandemic, we went through the four steps.
Sometimes it was very easy to follow the advice given, we learned to organize our surroundings and felt a little bit more in control of things. Sometimes it was just a pain to live the above recommendations.
What helped best was to follow the advice to tell another person: we were more able to reflect the things I’ve learned and what’s more, somebody else know about things that are going in my life. You must know, that it is going to be hard work to reach your goals. But if we could translate it you can do so, as well! Go and reach the top – step by step!