COVID-19 took the world by surprise. While some nations and scientists were prepared for a pandemic — others were far less so. Reactions to it have varied widely — from nations that have it mostly under control to the United States where it’s not.
The big picture is wrought with uncertainty and confusion. For the first time in most of our lives, the end of our present circumstances hasn’t any clarity at all.
This is having a pretty awful effect on people in general. Because of the surreal amount of confusion, uncertainty, and fear — people are snappish, quick to anger, easily overreacting, and otherwise not being kind, compassionate, or empathetic.
On the one hand, some people have, since March, been working to isolate, follow scientifically established guidelines, and work to keep COVID-19 as much at bay as possible. On the other hand, some people disbelieve the severity of the problem, want their haircuts and dinner at restaurants, and who tired so quickly of isolation that they refuse to accept it is still necessary.
That’s disconcerting. Both sides see the other as irrational. And the lack of top-down leadership and horrifically mixed messages — plus a serious lack of understanding and partisan politics — just adds to the levels of uncertainty and confusion overall.
Even the least empathetic people are feeling it. And matters are only going to get crazier.
Everyone has a breaking point
The strongest, toughest, most intelligent, stubbornest, and most grounded individuals have a breaking point. When the void is screaming back at you it’s only a matter of time before you scream at it.
When you were supposed to do something that you cannot be doing — it impacts you. For example — for the first time in 25 years I am not at the massive medieval camping event I would be right now. That’s because it was canceled due to COVID-19. While I reconciled myself to this well before they called it — many are having a really hard time coping with this reality.
My friends and family are like 99% on the same page I am. They are practicing social distancing, avoiding massive crowds, wearing masks, and largely staying isolated. As we watch our so-called leaders be stupid and open schools, allow large crowds to gather, and not care about anything but the economy and entitlement — the initial head-scratching has devolved into anger.
That anger, at entities over which we have ZERO influence, will find another outlet. And that is where the crazy comes out.
Imperfect allies get called out over the stupidest things. Friends take on personal crusades that create unnecessary division and conflict. Rational people become irrational. Small slights are seen as massive insults. It takes little to nothing to set people off.
What’s more, it is frequently hard to see this for what it is. Even the most stalwart warrior has a breaking point — and what that becomes once reached is different and unique to everyone.
Patience and understanding are wearing thin. What can you do in the face of that?
Take stock of yourself
It’s easy to get caught up in the crazy of another. We have friends and family that we will support and defend from now to the end of time. When they take up a cause that we get swept up in, we may — as such — inadvertently join them in the crazy.
On the one hand, that can be a useful diversion. On the other hand, however, that can also add to your confusion, uncertainty, and fear because you have acted against your better self.
That’s why you need to take stock of yourself.
This is where practicing mindfulness comes in. You need to pause and literally ask yourself questions such as,
· What am I thinking?
· How am I feeling?
· What am I feeling?
· What am I doing?
· Am I okay?
That last is one that I know I tend not to ask as much as I should.
Am I okay? No, not entirely.
I feel the pain, the fear, the confusion, and the uncertainty of my friends and family. Though I know there is very little I can do, I am concerned about the future of my country and society in general.
It is still way too easy for me to fall down the Facebook rabbit hole. So much confusion, lack of reason, lack of logic. I just cannot understand this — and I know I can’t do shit about it, either.
What can I do to not just avoid going completely crazy myself — but maybe help others step back from the ledge, too?
Take care of yourself
I need to give myself a break. When I am frustrated by this insanity, I need to pause, breathe, and remember that the only person I have any control or true influence over is me.
There is nothing I can do about people getting crazier. But I can stop myself from joining them.
When you realize this, you get to make a choice. Step away, step back, disengage. Or step in, step up, and engage. Considering the impact of this will determine where you will be when it comes to facing, dealing with, and/or being a part of the crazy.
I can only take care of myself. You can only take care of yourself. Ignoring this and not putting time, energy, and mindfulness into it will help it grow.
I can’t do a whole lot about people getting crazier as this situation drags on. But I can do for myself things that will help me not join them.
You can do this, too.
What can you do?
The first step is to recognize that your patience and understanding have limits. Note what topics have your patience and understanding thin and worn, then decide if you can avoid them.
If you can’t avoid them, you need to take steps to rebuild and reinforce your patience and understanding.
How do you do that? Among other things you can:
· Get exercise. This will help clear your head.
· Meditate. Centering and pausing for yourself is empowering.
· Read something. Inspiration/self-help or fiction is good for the mind.
· Laugh. Evoking laughter releases endorphins and can improve mood.
· Scream. Find a place to let it out.
· Breathe deep. Taking just 2 minutes to breathe deeply in-and-out can shift your mood.
· Go offline. Step away from Facebook and Twitter. Definitely avoid all news outlets!
· Cry. You might need the emotional release.
· Forgive yourself. This one is huge. You may be amazed how something you are holding onto amid this insanity is impacting your psyche.
These are just a few examples. But there are lots of relatively simple things you can do to clear yourself from the crazy. And, when you do this, you might inspire others to practice similar self-care, too.
I think we may all be afraid right now
Finally, it’s important that you communicate with the people who share a piece of your heart. We may not all be in the same boat — but we are all weathering the same storm. What’s more, we are stronger together than we are apart.
Be mindful of what you do, what you say, and how you act. That can help to lessen the overall crazy and build patience, understanding, and hope.
The world is chaotic on many, many levels. The future has never been so uncertain for so many. Patience and understanding are wearing thin. This is in reaction to fear.
How did we get here? What do we do now? Why is the end not in sight? All of these questions are in the collective consciousness — and all of them evoke fear.
The world before COVID-19 is gone. Now what? That’s a super scary question.
That’s the root of the crazy. When you get ahold of that and acknowledge it — you can overcome it. Practicing mindfulness, using the above suggestions for actions, and taking care of yourself, can and will overcome the fear.
It’s an intangible. So it cannot hurt you unless you believe that it will. Pause, reflect, and you can see that the future may be uncertain — but that needn’t make it scary or unpleasant.
You get to choose to control fear rather than let fear control you. Practice mindfulness, be aware of your thoughts and feelings — then act to overcome the uncertainty.
As the Alchemist said to Santiago in Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist:
“Tell your heart that the fear of suffering is worse than the suffering itself.”
Know that you are worthy and deserving of using mindfulness to find and/or create the reality in which you desire to live. When all is said and done our thoughts, feelings, and actions matter, and they can help us overcome fear and chaos.