I continue to try and mentally process how countless lives have been forever changed by the coronavirus, including my own. As I observe and think about the world around me, I have started to notice a trend. A trend in both the direction of coverage and in the response I see and observe in others.
It comes down to one of two paths we may choose to follow in our response; respect or fear.
The Fear Based Response
Fear dominates the headlines. This is what drove our panic buying in mid-March. Fear of the unknown, fear of an uncontrollable, unseen enemy lurking, one that is both everywhere and nowhere.
Fear is a natural response and in the right situation totally appropriate. However, when we give in to the fear, when we continue to allow that fear to be reinforced by daily doses of bad news, we get stuck in a cycle where the fear affects our decisions and ultimately even our health. We see new projections, ever increasing doom and gloom, months more of the status quo and seemingly no way out.
That is the fear based response.
Responding With Respect
I continually remind myself that we have tried for millennia to predict the future and rarely get even the simplest predictions correct. Just look at the weather. Sophisticated computer models and often forecast accuracy even a day in advance is no better than chance.
So what can you do? Instead of fear, I try to frame my reaction from a baseline of respect. Respect that this virus is deadly. Respect that it is indiscriminate; it does not care if you have money in the bank or are homeless.
Rich or poor, black or white. American, Chinese or Italian. None of that matters. Respect that it could be everywhere but do not succumb to the fear. Stay home, for your safety, for your family, and for others who may be more vulnerable.
Respectfully wash your hands, use hand sanitizer, keep your distance and wear a mask. Respect the virus and each other. Respect that millions have lost their jobs, their businesses, their retirement accounts and their livelihoods.
If you have the means, respect and appreciate that and seek ways to help. Respect and be grateful that you are in a position to help. Respect the person who delivered a package to your door, and the one who showed up to work to stock the shelves at the grocery store.
Show your respect by saying thank you.
Change The Way You Respond
Do I still fear getting sick? Of course. But I acknowledge that fear and respectfully take every I action I can to lessen the chance of getting infected. I also respectfully avoid putting myself in situations where others can infect me and where I may unknowingly infect others.
When you begin to observe your reaction to everything you see and read, the fear becomes apparent. It is so obvious.
How do you break the cycle?
Mindful observation. Notice your reaction to the news you just read or the conversation you just had. Before you accept the default response, question it.
Let it sit for a moment and decide, can my reaction generate respect and a feeling of calm control instead of fear? Often you will immediately notice the energetic difference between the two paths. Then choose your response.
Close the internet and go for a walk. Delete that email instead of clicking send. Respect will not pay your bills, but making a decision from a place of fear will not resolve the situation any faster.
Respect Free Will in Others
When you see this reaction in others, understand that you cannot help pull someone else out of fear, all you can do is respect their free will and their ability to choose how they react.
You can respectfully offer help and support and let them decide if and to what degree they accept. A fear based response would meet fear with fear and perpetuate the cycle. Maybe your respect will show them the way out.
Try this exercise even just once today and see if it changes your prospective.