The COVID-19 Arrow: Striking at the Heart of American Life and Culture
Personal Coping with Covid
At the personal level, there are several recommendations embedded in the analysis I have just offered. First, as I have repeatedly noted, the virus has driven people apart and at the same time has pulled them together during this COVID-19 era. It is critical that we embrace the latter (sociopetal) forces. Even as Introverts, we must acknowledge that the challenges associated with any VUCA-Plus saturated event requires that we reach out to other people. We need them to provide support for anxiety associated with the turbulence of COVID-19. We also need other people to help us make sense of the contradictions inherent in the dynamic nature of the virus and in the public policies being enacted to reduce or eliminate the virus’ impact.
Given the volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity of the virus, we need the steading hand of those people in our life whom we trust with regarding to their intentions (Bergquist, Between and Meuhl, 1995). While those around us might not be the most competent people in the world (at least with regard to the virus), they can offer a collective competence when we bring them together to share perspectives, test out assumptions, and enter into constructive dialogue. “Reality” in a VUCA-Plus world is to be found not in the knowledge or expertise of one person, but instead in the constructive and sustained dialogue among peers holding diverse perspectives (Gergen and Gergen, 2004; Miller and Page, 2007).
We also cope by being thoughtful and caring about our own health. This is not a time to be “brave” and stubborn. This is a time to be tender and generous with our own body. A good night of sleep, some exercise, healthy foods and a dose of recreation (“re-creation”) are key ingredients. We know this from the many studies being conducted in the emerging field of health psychology (Teurman, 2019).
Finally, this is an important time to cast off our “character armor” and allow ourselves to be open to assistance from professional human service providers. Whether we set up an appointment with a psychologist or social worker or seek support and guidance from a pastoral counsellor or our family physician, it is important that we acknowledge the importance of this type of assistance. As I have mentioned in this essay, this seems to be one of the few advantages of living in the American society. There is a greater openness to these services than in many other societies.
Since this essay is likely to be read by those working in human service fields, I realize that I am “speaking to the choir.” This being the case, my recommendation might better be framed as acknowledgement that the services being provided by human service providers is even more important today. Furthermore, the VUCA-Plus challenges inherent in the virus-related problems being brought into the therapy office are in many ways new and in other ways quite old. There have always been moments of confusion, contradiction and turbulence in the lives of those seeking therapy; however, the levels of confusion, contradiction and turbulence might be even greater today. The levels of anxiety might even be higher—especially given the epidemic nature of collective anxiety as it begins to invade our silos and our souls.
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