Are you concerned? Worried? Scared? Or do you think all of this is exaggerated?
How careful should you be? How much physical distance is really necessary?
Is it safe to go out again? Are we being too cautious? Too paranoid?
Maybe the protestors are right? Should more businesses reopen?
What do you believe about this pandemic? You probably have a bunch of ideas, theories, and beliefs about Covid-19. This is your personal coronavirus story. Your story may contain some “facts,” but where did your facts come from? Our stories about this pandemic are personal, idiosyncratic, and subjective.
Most of us are at least a little anxious about all of this – a little worried about getting sick, about family and friends, about jobs and the economy. But our levels of anxiety and fear are not fully determined by the reality of our circumstances. Rather, our fears are in direct proportion to the story that appears like a novel or a movie in our minds.
I’ve been feeling depressed about the isolation, about the impact on my business, and not being able to go to a movie, a restaurant, even the beach. My feelings are certainly understandable – maybe even universal. But then I lose perspective and I start to “awfulize”. I feel more depressed because my victim mentality – my story – sounds like I’m in prison. When I’m not lost in my story about these restrictions, I’m able to enjoy some gardening, reading, walking Edith and Hugo (our Frenchies), and binge watching some great shows with my wife.
Some of us minimize the severity of this situation Some are in denial. Is this a false sense of security? Would it be better to gratify yourself today by going to a restaurant or bar? To get a haircut and a manicure? Or to delay gratification and avoid a potentially deadly disease? And possibly infect someone else? Our ability to accurately assess the risks is influenced by pre-existing beliefs – stories – about illness, politics, religion, and science, among others.
Our personal and subjective stories about this pandemic have a great impact on our feelings and reactions to the current circumstances. What we do – how we behave – is determined by our stories, not the situation itself.
Personally, I plan to follow the advice of the infectious disease experts, the public health professionals, and other evidence-based information. This information is far more reliable and vital than the stories in my head!
For more information about our personal stories and how to change them I hope you will read my article about Westworld, now in its third season on HBO.