Sunél’s Blog | Put up your fences

Sunél Veldtman, | 29 May 2020

Most of us know how to take care of our physical security. We put up burglar bars, fences and walls. We raise the walls and top them with electric fences.  We install alarm systems. We have panic buttons linked to armed response. We belong to village watch groups. We may even have permanent bodyguards. We take security seriously. We won’t allow intruders to threaten our physical space if we can prevent it.

Yet, when it comes to our mental space, it’s the complete opposite if we’re not aware. We allow the media, a stranger on Twitter or a narcissistic politician to have free access to our thoughts and feelings. We open the gates to anxiety-invoking theories and harmful stories, Facebook fights and Twitter arguments. We allow strangers to walk all over our hearts. We watch and read multiple news channels, which we know will upset us. And then we dwell on the thoughts and the feelings they evoke until that information becomes our looming reality – even if it is a distant threat.

Why? Why would we let our inner worlds be impacted, worse still, defiled? It shocks me. What shocks me more, is how few people realise that they have a choice, a choice which is vital to exercise.

We should guard our mental sanity and sanctity with the same vigour that we guard our physical security. We need soundness of mind, especially during this time, to make good decisions. We must choose to stop the stream of information into our mind. We cannot allow our minds to constantly race or go over the same alarming thoughts like a hamster on a wheel. 

We need to base our decisions on carefully curated information from a limited choice of trusted sources. We shouldn’t be ignorant, but there is a point at which additional sources of information are no longer useful, especially if it impacts our mental stability.

It is my job to know what is going on in the world because world events impact our clients’ wealth. It is equally important to guard my mind so that I can help my clients make good decisions.  Throughout the lockdown, I have had to watch over my mind too. At times, especially when I have felt anxiety threatening to overwhelm me, I have had to step away from social media and even daily news. I have had to switch off over weekends or go for long walks at the crack of dawn (because that’s what we had to do here in Cape Town) to secure a fresh perspective. I’ve found it unhelpful and at times, distressing, to listen to some of our global politicians and even those from developed nations. I’ve had to focus on having a quiet mind; purposefully choose to not to allow myself to get caught up in circular, or worse, downward spirals of thought. I’ve had to put up my own mental fences.

Think about your mental security as you would think about your physical security. You need to be vigilant, more so than usual, so that you have the capacity to make good decisions.

What do you need to do tighten your mental security? What has worked for you in the past? Have you perhaps let your guard down? How have you allowed your mental health to be affected by the news you have consumed? How ready is your state of mind for making good decisions?

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