There is no doubt that these are interesting times, and I am glad for it. Not that I wish anything negative on anyone, but adversity breeds adaptation, mutation, and generally just better humans. Pretty sure I’m completely destroying some scientific quote in there, but it’s how I think.
I am completely blessed to be weird. As one example, I’m currently living with roommates, all women. One is a teenage student. Another is a professional artist (see @painterliesl on Instagram). And the other is a Courage Coach and stunt woman (Fenix Fall Girl). Talk about four different perspectives on what’s happening with the pandemic. And by happening, I mean everything from how these varied people are directly impacted in their work, their lives, how they are coping, and what they think on topics from causes to cures about COVID.
Our most passionate debates come from the Courage Coach, with a deep compassion for the masses of people behaving from a place of fear right now. I was quick to dismiss the issue, as I tend to view the world through rose-colored glasses anyways. I don’t really see mass-media, and while I do connect with the world, it’s on an one-on-one basis. My demographic are also generally optimistic people, being business owners in a recession-resistant industry (not recession-proof mind you).
As we were getting into our debate this weekend it finally sunk in what she was talking about. It’s not to follow the rules of social distancing or not, because the media has us scared that everyone is infected and everyone dies. It’s the following of the rules out of fear. Fear is what causes us to report our neighbors for traveling in groups (oops, turns out they were living together anyways). Fear is what causes us to hoard toilet paper. Fear is what causes us to share what the news is reporting and hype it up versus fact-checking it.
Now, I do not believe that the news is reporting lies. However, I do believe the news is reporting information in such a way that its misleading us to think that worst case is likely, when the likely case is probably pretty damn positive in comparison. This effect, too, can be combated if we step out of fear, and into compassion and even logic. I know logic doesn’t sound like an emotion, but I think it is and I’m lumping it in with compassion for now.
The comparison is that fear generates physiological fear-based responses, complete with hormones and areas of our brain NOT associated with logic and compassion. Logic would cause us to be alarmed by the news and decide to start looking into the facts of what’s really going on. Logic would cause us to start planning our businesses for business as usual, for shelter-in-place orders, both long term and short term and to simply be prepared.
Once you take a logic approach to the issue at hand (and any issue, really), you have prepared your mind to allow for compassion. You have time to process that fear is a natural response. The rest of society is feeling fear. You can do social distancing out of compassion for others. You can assume the best about small groups traveling your neighborhood.
This is a bit off the reality of today, but here is a quick story of one of my Eureka moments around compassion and assumptions.
I was a bit angry as I pulled into a parking lot to see some idiot parked at an angle right across the parking line, effectively taking up two parking spots. I took the high ground and just parked in the back, walking past his car, thinking that someone else is likely to key his car. When I got done shopping and headed back to my car, he was gone. To the left of where he was parked was another car who parked beside him in the same manner, making the best use of the space left by the assumed idiot.
I feel like the car that was now parked incorrectly was a bit less of an idiot. In fact, I then wondered if the original car I saw parked so poorly, maybe had to do the same thing to find any parking. In fact, I realized that making an assumption, or even an emotion about something I cannot control and do not have all the facts about is just useless.
That was my Eureka moment about assumption and compassion. I’m not even sure I successfully made a point this article, but I hope you found a few new ways to look at what’s going on around you. As my Courage Coach and roommate says, “Courage is not the absence of fear, but the mastery of it.” Be brave, be courageous. You don’t have to be free from fear, but you do need to understand that’s what it is, and start applying your logic and compassion to master it.