The Coronavirus is causing chaos everywhere: stock markets are plunging, people are scared, and businesses, especially small ones, are suffering – absolute panic mode!
And then I woke up with a sore throat.
I am not sure if you can imagine what kind of a canon went off in my head. There I was, catapulting myself right in the epicenter of the fear and anxiety I had been noticing about others. Did I catch it? Am I going to be the first case in my region? What about the people around me? Wait, I need to shop online for food and supplies!
In some way or the other we are all affected by the disruptions and panic caused by the Coronavirus. Or COVID-19. Please understand that I am not a science person, but a human person. So the following thoughts are coming from a humane perspective. And from this viewpoint it is staggering to recognize what is unfolding in our society, and what I saw unfolding in me.
We, as a species, are hardwired to easily slip into panic mode for self-preservation. It makes sense, if you think about it. As hunter-gatherers it was wise to overestimate danger for the sake of sheer survival. But nowadays, we do not have to fear the saber-toothed tiger lurking around the corner. Instead, we have to fear our own brain. It is not news that life for the modern human has shifted substantially and our brains are not able to shift at the same speed. Evolution is a slow process after all.
Hence, we feel constantly overwhelmed. Everything is happening at lightning speed, everyone is over-excited and overly busy and overly accomplished. Question is where does this leave us – you and me – in this frenzied world? I have a feeling that quite a few of us, me included, dump all our fears into this “situation” as sort of an outlet or relief.
And kindly understand one very important thing: I do not want to belittle what is happening here – in no way, shape or form. Rather, I want to encourage you to shift your focus. Panic is rising everywhere. People are cleaning out stores and fighting about toilet paper (Why by the way? Is there an inherent safety in toilet paper that I am not aware of?).
It is said that fear is not a good advisor and this is very true. Fear blocks us. Makes us do things we actually don’t want to do. Makes us insane in a certain sense. A very wise person ones told me that carrying the energy of fear inside our hearts is more damaging to our health than any virus, as it greatly affects our immune system.
So, I would like to ask you to take a step back. Just Breathe. And try to become the observer in a way by looking at this from the outside. I will spare you information about the numbers of those infected by influenza and other viral diseases, as you probably have read them a hundred times by now; and I leave it up to you to make up your own mind. But I would like to urge you to take it easy for a minute and observe – without panic. We need to be able to help ourselves first, before we help others. I love the analogy about what to do if the air pressure drops in a plane: put your own mask on first, before helping others in need. And this is true for so many aspects in life. We need to start with ourselves. Be clean in mind and heart, before turning to others. So in today’s environment, this means to firstly turn inward. To decipher between what is just panic and what is real concern and then act upon this notion.
Times like these urge us to focus on what is really important, such as family, community and friends. We are being forced to take a step back from over-consumption, traveling and excess. Now, it’s time to stay at home and enjoy what we have. The skies are clearing up over China. Maybe, in all this panic and shifting of things, there lies a chance for something new. For something less excited and Instagram-perfect. For something more real.
My sore throat is gone by the way. It was exactly just that: a sore throat.