COVID-19: Since You Can’t Control The Situation, Accept It
It has now been two weeks, my family and I are voluntarily self-isolating. I live in Stockholm, Sweden where the government hasn’t implemented lockdown because they trust that people will maintain social distance and will go into isolation, if required. There are many other families like us who are actively practicing self-isolation to do their best in order to break the chain. We are taking social responsibility and doing our bit. Difficult situations like COVID-19 provide us with the opportunity to learn as well as to teach, especially to our children, how to stop the pandemic of selfishness and to take responsibility for our actions. We are facing a catastrophe where humanity is being tested for cooperation, innovation, creativity, resilience, and empathy.
We are receiving mixed-messages adding to fear, panic, frustration, and confusion. Economies are slowing down, businesses are bleeding, and because of COVID-19 people are losing lives or being laid-off. While fear continues to intensify we need to start thinking of actions and behaviours that can build a safe place for generations to come.
To ensure that my daughter was not being consumed by the fear of uncertainty, I initiated the discussion on how she is feeling about this entire situation. This one sentence from her put my mind at rest, “It’s better that I accept what it is, instead of over-thinking about what may or may not happen.”
Since you can’t control it, accept it
The biggest threat human beings are facing at present is the loss of control over things that were assumed to be controllable. For centuries, we mindlessly used power to control and rule everything possible, be it humans or nature. We have done every bit to alter the natural processes and have undervalued the significance of balance for a harmonious survival. The current struggle is a repercussion of our attitude. It’s like we have gone into a power struggle with nature, where human beings are being forced to change their mannerism. To own up to the destruction that they have caused. It calls for acceptance of what it is and from there on working out a path of restoration and revival.
The biggest threat human beings are facing at present is the loss of control over things that were assumed to be controllable.
People living in a lockdown can overcome their inner-fear by accepting that the situation is going to be quite difficult and different, even after everything ends. Instead of getting terrorised about the future and hoarding stuff; practice minimalism and share resources. It is also a way of teaching our children the value of possessions and the blessings we have.
Trust the struggle, trust the process
I called my friend in India to check how she is doing. And she said, “We are learning to figure out new ways of sharing the workload among family members. We are maintaining our faith and avoiding negative thoughts.”
Panic shuts the normal functioning of our brain and brings out the worst in us. What we need is the courage to trust the process and trust the struggle that comes along with it. The inability to reduce the pain, of any nature, brings in frustration and anger. When pain is a result of fear it leads to irrational thinking and irresponsible behaviour. Most of us try to escape from this pain by numbing it. Mindless screen hours, binge eating, continuous social media surfing or writing hate posts are all examples of numbing the emotions. It is a way of blocking yourself from searching for the gifts this situation might bring. Finding blessings and trusting this process will seem hard. To come to think of it, even in this catastrophe we have the choice. We can either take actions based on knee-jerk fear or use our awareness to build courage, connections, sanity, health and solidarity. While we are staying at home forcefully or voluntarily – we can take actions to be better, instead of trying to feel better. We can be better by being useful to someone, by showing compassion to each other. It could be in any other way which is community focused than being self-focused.
Prevent mental health disorder pandemic
While we are all busy in saving our lives from the grip of this dreaded coronavirus, there is another pandemic ready to explode – the pandemic of depression and anxiety. That will need large forces to build emotional strength across all generations. This is another virus that could suck many of us in, if not dealt with in a cohesive way. And there is no one who is safe. Generosity and compassion will take all of us far ahead. This is the time to become great listeners, instead of judging or blaming anyone for whatever is happening. We need each other more than ever.
Ben Okri, a Nigerian Novelist and poet wrote, “There is a great difference between panic and awareness. With awareness there is responsibility, a respect for the scale of the problem, and a calm consciousness of what needs to be done.”
This is an uncharted territory for almost all of us. And what needs to be done is to accept each other’s vulnerabilities and to connect with compassion.
Vandana Sehgal is a Holistic Wellness Coach and author of the book I Love Myself. Her motto: Every day,
minute, second brings an opportunity to be new. The views expressed are the author’s own.