Fear and Loathing during the COVID-19 Pandemic
Five ways to come from a place of compassion in the face of adversity
PLEASE NOTE: Many people are suffering great loss of life and painful illness during this time. Businesses are struggling to stay afloat. These thoughts are geared to those of us who are still basically healthy, working through day to day concerns and finding ways to manage our emotions. We mourn those we have lost and hope for healing for those who may become ill.
Many of us are living in fear during this worldwide COVID-19 pandemic. It’s understandable and maybe even wise to be a bit fearful. But my concern centers around the irrational loathing accompanying our rational apprehensions.
My last post covered 10 things to do while we’re stuck at home, and I’ll have more for you soon, but I felt it was important as a Life Coach to deal with how we can handle points of view that differ from our own. There are many things that divide us: economics, politics, philosophy, likes and dislikes- the list is long! How do we deal with the vast divide between your family or friends who are sterilizing everything in sight and those who despise wearing a mask? I’m not here to argue for one side or the other, but to start the conversation about how we react to each other as we work through what is happening to us now and in the future.
Rational fear can be a great motivator. The fear that we may fall ill or even die if we don’t comply with government mandates compels us to do whatever is asked. Those who may be less fearful in general, tend to chafe at the restrictions. While we may fail to understand each other, we still need to treat each other with kindness and human respect. This is no time to lash out in hatred and anger. Recently I've noticed a lot of comments on social media like these which demonstrate the lack of consideration we give people who may disagree with us:
“All those idiotic protestors without masks are making this worse-if they get sick they should be denied treatment!”
“Stop being a bunch of sheep and fight against the government’s tyranny! You are idiots if you believe this is as bad as they are making it sound!”
The commonality is that both describe people on “the other side” as idiotic. But what’s really going on here? Besides the fact that there is an anonymity to “yelling” at someone from a keyboard instead of arguing face to face, there is a real disconnect in the tolerance of differing opinions or interpretations of facts.
When we come from a place of fear, challenges to our beliefs trigger our darkest responses. We lash out. Our tunnel vision takes over and we hold tight to what feeds our point of view, ultimately loathing those who don’t share it. At a time where the reality of severe illness and death is displayed daily on our screens, the truth is we probably agree on more than we realize. We all want our families to be safe and we need our ability to earn a living restored. The challenge for all of us is to rise above the noise and react from a place of compassion.
How can we approach this extraordinarily difficult time with kindness and understanding?
1) Watch the news sparingly. While it is important to keep informed, remember the media credo “if it bleeds it leads”, so sensationalism is rampant.
This approach hardens our positions on issues. We tend to hear what we want to hear and disregard what we don’t “believe”.
2) Don’t try to “teach” others online-most will NOT change their minds
Have you ever “won” a battle on Social Media? Despite my most respectful efforts, neither have I.
When posting on Social Media, try to find positive stories or memes that inspire or inject humor. Better to feel like you tried to brighten someone’s day than realizing you started a war of words.
If you are a health worker or scientist with valuable information to post, by all means do so as a public service, but try to reserve judgement on those who may not have your perspective.
3) Enjoy the wonderful online content created by families, friends and even celebrities reflecting the humor stemming from people staying at home. A quick search (“YouTube funny videos about staying at home”) brought up these gems:
4) Try Meditation, Prayer or inspirational reading to keep grounded and calm
Headspace is offering a free trial for guided meditations: https://www.headspace.com/register/free-trial
Calm is another wonderful app offering a variety of peaceful guidance with a free trial: https://www.calm.com/freetrial/plans
Pray.com offers a few trial for those who prefer Christian, biblical prayer and mediations: https://www.pray.com/subscribe
Many faiths are offering online services so their congregations can participate virtually
5) CHEER! At 7:00pm throughout the country, people are cheering, honking and making noise to appreciate those in the front lines of this battle. From Healthcare workers to first responders, grocers to warehouse employees and many other people providing us support during this time, they all appreciate a little extra gratitude and acknowledgement! It's also fun to see what happens when you start this and your neighbors ask what's going on- oftentimes they'll join in!
This is an excellent time to reflect on how we deal with adversity. How we REACT to what happens to us can either strengthen us or cripple us. Acknowledge and accept that fear is real. You can lessen anxiety by doing what makes you feel more in control, but you can't control what others do or feel. Allow for others to express their fear, or lack of it, in their own way. Wishing anyone ill destroys our sense of community and fosters negative feelings within us.
Kindness, patience and understanding are practices we can start NOW- towards others and towards ourselves. Keep in mind that a positive spirit is proven to boost immunity! We WILL get through this. How we feel when things gradually return to “normal” will largely be dictated by the actions we take during this time of immense difficulty.
I work with clients to give them tools to empower themselves and become more resilient. Do you want some concrete ways of dealing with fear and anxiety? Please let me know. I’d love to help!
Reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org