We are indeed living in uncertain times. Our lives have been changed overnight and a crisis has gripped our planet like never before.
During a time of crisis our human nature is to pull together, for support and guidance. By coming together, we mentally and emotionally support each other and try to formulate a plan. However, we are being advised to keep a level of distance from each other, which is unusual for us in crisis. How we manage ourselves and how we behave with others, will determine the outcome of this situation, for us all.
In times of war, a terrorist attack, a natural disaster or other types of illnesses; we await guidance and clarity on how to behave and what to expect. Our leaders around the world, scientist and health professionals are doing their very best to find solutions. We have no idea how long this will last. How this will affect our world, our economy, our healthcare system, our employment, our education, the financial institutions and our lives. We do know however that things will change and will probably never revert back to how it was before.
When crisis hits, it is customary for human nature to go into survival mode. The need to protect and provide for our loved ones. This creates a scarcity mentality in relation to food, medicine, fuel and other resources. We mentally catastrophise and radiate tension which feeds the energy of communities we live in.
A temporary crisis is one thing. But existing in a sustained environment of uncertainty is more challenging for us to manage. This can lead to depression, hopelessness and illnesses, other than the one affecting our planet today.
Some may be in denial and refuse to acknowledge the predicament we find ourselves in. This is known as normality bias, which is a tendency for people to believe that things will function in the future the way they normally have functioned in the past and therefore to underestimate both the likelihood of a disaster and its possible effects. This is not about being optimistic which is important. It is a denial of the situation and results in ignoring the guidance that keeps us all safe and opens us to more risk.
Our ability to manage ourselves is critical in a crisis and building our emotional intelligence is the key:
- First become aware of your own emotions, thoughts and behaviours and determine if they are supportive for you?
- Find ways to manage these to a level that create calm for yourself, your loved ones and the community at large
- Check-in with those close to you to determine how they are and help support them with a balance of information and guidance and emotional support on a regular basis. Ask for the support that you need.
- Seek out information that will help you manage yourself and plan a strategy for yourself and those close to you that do not trigger your anxiety, survival instincts
- Accept that you are not in control and there is no immediate solution today and recognise that as a race we have weathered many disasters, epidemics and crisis and are still here
- Pay attention to what matters, who matters and how the future is never and has never been predictable and the last couple of decades has demonstrated that
- Recognise that things may change rapidly and we might need to adapt our plans accordingly – be open to this uncertainty.
Continuous Change Cycle
This will pass and we will look back and understand we had a choice in how we responded. This is as much an opportunity for us to grow as individuals and create a better world as it is to protect ourselves and those we care for. We are interdependent and need each other to survive. Yes, it is uncertain and remaining open and adaptive can help us at this time. If you are reading this – you are coping, but perhaps you can cope a little more.