Being Stretched Beyond Our Imagination
With the unfolding global coronavirus pandemic leading to people being confined to their homes, borders being shut and economic instability, it can be hard not to feel overwhelmed by the state of the world at the moment. Let’s be honest, it isn’t a comfortable place to be. The panic and fear that we see on all media outlets is riveting, to say the least. Many people are interpreting these blurbs of “in your face” screams as “only worry about your own survival”. In fact, with our “fight or flight” biological instincts, we tend to lean toward only thinking about ourselves. More broadly, we generally have two distinct ways we humans think about ourselves and society. They are “individualism” or “collectivism”.
You may know these terms as they often relate to how we see cultures i.e., Asians tend to have more a collective mindset and in the West, more an individual one. In other words, it’s all about “me” vs it’s all about “we”. In the individual mindset cultures, people tend to only think about themselves both in good times and in times like we are currently facing. It’s having an extremely negative effect on people’s emotional, psychological and physical wellbeing. Ironically, the stress it’s causing is in fact weakening our immune system, in affect making us less resistant to sickness … and even more susceptible to the virus.
On the other hand, those cultures with the “we are all in this together” attitude tend to fend for each other, grow with each other and learn … together.
More Good News! Yes, There is More Good News
We in the science world know that in addition to having deep biological survival tendencies, we also are born as natural givers. We intuitively love watching other folks succeed and have deep appreciation in experiencing our family and friends share enjoyable moments. The positive emotions that we experience serve as a protection from the “outside forces”. They prevent us from diving into a negative spiral as we so often do in difficult times. In fact, just as stress and worry weaken our immune system – positivity, gratitude and hope can actually strengthen it – the immune system needs to be strong and will play a vital role in fighting off this invisible virus.
We Need to Reframe the Situation
We have all experienced being in a difficult situation. How we interpret these situations is largely determined to how they’re framed – in other words, the context. If we see this current crisis as “this can only end up awful” then guess what, however it ends, you’ll still see it as discouraging. However, if we can think of the possible positive outcomes that can arise from this predicament, reframing, we will in fact increase our positive emotions – this thought process is under our control and focusing on what we can control can eventually decrease feelings of anxiety.
Please don’t get me wrong here, we are experiencing an unprecedented situation in the world at the moment. Nevertheless, if we can reflect and ultimately direct our intentions and emotions to more encouraging thoughts, we will feel a sense of hope and assurance.
I Leave You With This
As you practice the recommended “social distancing” and staying more at home, let me give you some things to think about.
First, everything happens for a reason. We are constantly being challenged, and with these challenges, we grow. This very fact is something you can begin repeating to yourself, “We always grow with challenges”.
Second, now might be a good time to do some self-reflecting on your life. It’s very seldom that the outside world gives us a chance to slow down and think about our life goals and values, let’s use it!
Are these questions now surfacing for you?
Why do I feel so in panic?
Is my family going to be ok?
What will happen if I get the virus?
Can I still be able to buy food and pay my bills in the coming months?
Will this ever end?
So let me repeat, everything happens for a reason. We are constantly being challenged, and with these challenges, we grow. This very fact is something you can begin repeating to yourself again and again, “We always grow with challenges”.
If other questions come up now, then you’re on the right path to grow:
Can I be a more forgiving adult to my children or parents?
Am I treating my body with respect and feeding it healthy foods?
Do my inner voices tell me “I am enough”?
Am I in a relationship that is positive and constructive?
Do I have a positive circle of friends that support who I am?
Have I found real meaning in my life?
Am I working in my passion and am I doing tasks I love and with people that give me joy?
Finally, only you have the choice to think your thoughts, feel your emotions and eventually take action on changing your life … for the better.
Remember, Happiness is an Inside Job
… and the Choice is Yours,
It Has Always Been and Will Always Be!
Ps. I find these lyrics from Dave Grohl And The Foo Fighter’s It’s Times Like These – a song that perfectly fits our moment:
It’s times like these you learn to live again
It’s times like these you give and give again
It’s times like these you learn to love again
It’s times like these time and time again