I have been fascinated with how many of us in the U.S. are behaving as children during our current pandemic crisis. I really can’t bring myself to see it any other way. I know if I worked on it, I would be able to move on from the comparison of parent/child relationship. However, the truth is that this is a fresh epiphany of mine and I’d like to sit with it for awhile.
Perhaps I’ll even process it through this writing. Who knows?
It really hit me between Wednesday and Thursday of this week as I witnessed a radical drop in traffic and people being out and about. What was the difference?
Well, there are facts and there are thoughts. The facts include an absence of blanket guidance at the federal or state level regarding how we humans should adjust our behaviors. At the beginning of the week, the county in which I lived issued a “stay at home” order while proclaiming only essential businesses would remain open.
It then went on to state that all businesses are essential.
Basically, business as usual.
And that’s exactly the behaviors I saw demonstrated. Many people were out and about, just living life I suppose. All business was essential. The only real change seemed to be no dining in at restaurants.
Local citizens lost their shit on social media. “Stay home!” they screamed.
I know that many also pressed with emails and phone calls to local officials to get attention.
Our city issued a more stringent order to go into effect on Thursday, clearly defining the businesses that are essential. Suddenly there were limits in my immediate bubble of the world. Boundaries. The rules were stricter.
And so it came to pass that I found myself driving around town on Thursday as it is my regular day to deliver meals to home bound seniors (yes, we have stricter protocols these days).
The difference in the amount of traffic that was out this Thursday versus last Thursday was crazy. I also stopped at the neighborhood market on the way home for two items that we needed. No lines. All was quiet, though the toilet paper shelves remained bare.
It was almost eerie.
Many would say it was as it should be and as it should have been weeks ago.
And the people on social media calmed down just a bit while they searched for something else to get fired up about.
These are challenging circumstances, I get it. We haven’t faced anything like this before on both a national and global scale. A complete upending of our lives underpinned by fear and uncertainty.
It creates so much drama in many areas, though it’s really not that different from the drama that we created before we had a pandemic to blame it on.
What struck me as I witnessed these events unfold over the span of a few days and how people reacted accordingly was that it seemed the majority were waiting to be told what to do.
Not by the WHO or the CDC, mind you. Certainly not by the media or the loudest voices on their favorite social platform. They were waiting to be told by the public officials, who have suddenly become the equivalent of parents.
Many people are swimming at the deep end of decision drama right now.
Some thoughts might look something like this.
Should I stay inside or venture out? What are the rules of the hour? If I’m still allowed to go somewhere, maybe I should just go before it’s all shut down. I might miss an opportunity. Everything is changing so fast. I’m healthy, so I don’t think I fall in an at risk category. I see a lot of other people out, so it must be okay if everyone else is doing it.
Other thoughts might look something like this.
Everyone just needs to stay home so we can get through this faster and return to normal. I don’t understand why they need to be told. It’s obvious if you just listen to the experts. Stay at home means stay inside. No, you shouldn’t be walking on the sidewalk or that trail! What are you thinking?
There’s the decision drama that comes with trying to decide what’s right in this moment, and the drama that comes with trying to control what everyone else decides to do (which is always a losing battle).
As humans, we feel that if someone else makes the decision for us, they must be smarter and have more information. They certainly have the authority.
The powers that be will tell us the best course of action to take and then we don’t have to swim in that drama anymore. Right?
Not really. You’re always going to be swimming with the drama as long as you allow your thoughts to revert to emotional childhood, to that place of being helpless until you receive the right guidance from the adult in the room.
You’ll remain stuck as long as you believe there are right and wrong decisions. Do you think the decision is right simply because it was made from a public official? Do you think it’s right because the law says it is? Or do you think it’s right because you decided the best course of action for you and for your immediate family?
I want you to really think about those questions.
There are certainly many who would question the decisions of public officials to deem all businesses essential while simultaneously telling everyone to stay home.
There always have been and always will be people who break the laws and the rules, particularly if they don’t agree with them.
The place where you have the most power is that place where you make your own decisions, the best decision that you can make the time with the information you have available. Notice I didn’t say the right one, but the best one. For you. With the information you have.
Then you simply move on and live your life from that place. It may not be a permanent decision. You may have to pivot, especially now as information changes at a faster clip than we are accustomed.
And you don’t beat yourself up. You don’t second guess yourself. You don’t regret it later. You do not worry about what other people’s decisions are because those are for them to own.
Know that ultimately, everything is going to unfold exactly the way it’s supposed to.
There is an amazing level of freedom gained from this approach, so give it a try.
Finally, be on to yourself about how much you’ve been swimming around in the depths of decision drama without a global pandemic to give you a wake up call. I promise you, it’s always been there.
Knowing how to navigate your thoughts and to separate them from actual facts will ground you in a healthier mental reality. One that you have created, that you get to own, and that you get to either suffer in or rejoice.
The decision is entirely yours.
It always has been.
If you would like to be coached on any topic, including the current pandemic events, I’m absolutely here for you! Book a free session with me here.