23 Apr


Coronavirus - Your questions answered: How to keep positive?

23 Apr, 2020

Due to the present situation, I am feeling a little low because my sign off was cancelled. I joined in November 2019. After five months you lose your positivity. What can I do to help myself feel more positive?

Seafarers are in a really tough spot right now and I can’t for a moment imagine the disappointment of not being able to go home. Disappointment is a tough nut to crack and often brings feelings of sadness, anger, blame, doubt and a whole list of other doom and gloom emotions. It really sucks! It has a way of hovering around in our minds, chipping away at positive thoughts and almost sucking the air out of everyday life. It can lead to a very melancholic and despondent outlook on life.

It’s easier said than done of course, but by rethinking your situation you can shift the focus from being a victim of circumstances to taking control. Here's how:

Firstly, accept how you feel - it's ok! You have every right to be disappointed about not being able to sign off. We live in a world of quick fixes. When we try to fix our souls with catchphrases like ‘just get over it’, we don’t allow our hearts and minds to process what is happening and we simply shift our emotions to a dark corner where we try to hide them behind lock and key.

Be sure that they will pop out eventually. I’m not suggesting sulking in your bunk for a few days, but take time to just experience your emotions. Perhaps write them down or verbalise them by talking to a crew mate. How about writing an old-fashioned letter to a loved one explaining how you feel and asking the shipping agent in the next port to please post it? But do so without blaming someone – just describe how you feel. It is not about blame, but rather about acknowledging and naming your emotions.

I’ve said that we live in a world of quick fixes. The world we live in also has a disdainful disregard for feelings like sadness and sorrow as if these take away from the beauty of life. We try to fix these with everything from happy pills to adrenaline shots. But, to live life in all its fullness, means to also embrace sadness and sorrow and finding the beauty in it. It is a very real part of being human. Perhaps our souls need to also understand these emotions to ultimately be happy.

In your current situation, big picture thinking can be a great help. Understanding that you are not alone in your disappointment can be really useful. The reality is that thousands of seafarers are in the exact same situation. I am not saying ‘get over it’ or questioning the legitimacy of what you're feeling, but if you acknowledge that others are experiencing the same thing, it shares the burden of disappointment.

And keep in mind that you are not a disappointment. The situation may be, but you are not. This pandemic is beyond our control. We do however have a choice in how we react to it. There are things that we can control – recognise that and focus on these.

You might find it helpful to listen to our free podcast on how to help manage your mental and emotional wellbeing through this crisis. You can access it here: https://www.sailors-society.org/assets/site/How-to-cope-with-coronavirus.mp3

Lastly, I want you to dream. Disappointment has a sneaky way of casting shadows over our dreams and hopes. Take some time to sit down and dream about life to come. All the things that you can and will still one day do. You are going places – it’s up to you where those places are. The possibilities are infinite. Dream big.

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