Recent COVID-19 observations reveal an ugly underbelly of our collective fear
Are we getting meaner?
I’ve been through a lot these past two months, as we likely all have in our own ways. It’s been a time of disruption, business as ‘un’-usual and has likely been stirring emotions within each of us.
That can actually be a good thing if we use it — rather than allow ourselves to be used by it.
You know the phoenix needs ashes to rise from, right? Cocoons need to be broken so the butterfly can emerge? Yep, same goes with us. Sometimes we get a gentle nudge beckoning us to pivot in a different direction and sometimes we get a thunderous roar crashing down upon us. But we need to pay attention.
I’ll be honest, I never thought we’d still be relinquished to our homes, masked and isolated from our lives for this long. And my feelings ebb and flow in response to it all — some days more ebbing than flowing. Some days more fear than faith. Some days navigating without a map.
I’m finding that there are proactive things I can do that make my nervous system more calm. First off, I’m not trying to be ‘normal’.
This isn’t normal by any stretch of the imagination, so trying to shove a square peg into a round hole only creates resistance and denial.
But I am trying to listen…not to the mainstream narrative, but rather to myself. I ask myself questions regularly like:
What do I need in this moment?
What would make me feel better right now?
Is this fear speaking?
Does this resonate as truth?
Those simple prompts can initiate immediate shifts — in our whole being. Sometimes (most of the times) it isn’t about having the solution to the big problem, but rather simply shifting the energy of the moment before us. Then we can being to see a new path underfoot.
But I’ve been observing some other things of recent that actually have me more concerned than I am even with the quarantine, social-distancing and all of its protocols.
Simply put, people are being mean…meaner than usual.
There I said it. I’ve been witnessing it everywhere. Drivers are driving more aggressively (and where in God’s name are they hurrying to anyway?). In fact, someone almost ran me over in a crosswalk in my sleepy town and then flipped me off. You can’t make this stuff up.
There’s a lot of judgment of how others are navigating all that’s going on — a lot of opinions being expressed…and a lot of unkindness that’s accompanying it.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m a beauty-hunter. I will seek beauty always — in others and the environment around me, but I also cannot deny what I am seeing. I think that people are scared — scared that life will never go back to what it once was, scared of loss, scared of the unknown. And I get that. I do.
When we are thrust right out of comfort zones, we oftentimes don’t know what to do with those feelings. So, we don’t…and they end up coming out sideways. We say things, do and react in ways perhaps we otherwise wouldn’t in different circumstances. But we cannot allow that fear to override our innate goodness — our desire to stay connected, to love one another, to see need where there is need…to show up as our Best Selves.
And I thought politics in this country was the great divide! WOW. This virus is bringing out the worst in many — hoarding, aggressiveness, judgment, ugly words.
Admittedly, I’ve seen it bubble up within me as well. So let’s look at it.
This certainly isn’t a statement about COVID-19, the issue of whether to wear a mask or not to wear a mask or anything in between. However, the mask is a great metaphor. This is about our humanity — the beautiful thread of connection that joins us within this human experience — the beating hearts beneath the masks.
Personally, I hate wearing a mask. I understand why I have to wear a mask in certain situations, but I hate it nonetheless. I don’t care what anyone says, it shifts the energy and connection between people. It signals fear. Behind the mask our emotions, smiles and humanness are guarded and hidden away. While it might make some feel ‘safe’, it makes me feel sad.
Again, this isn’t a dissertation on mask-wearing, but rather what can we do within the context of it and our current reality. How can we stay connected and interact in better ways? And I think a lot of it has to do with how we are communicating (or not). For example, we’ve all got opinions about this.
We’ll likely never agree completely, but that’s what keeps life interesting — how we can learn from each other and expand our horizons.
Recently, standing on my own front lawn, someone passing by screamed out, “where’s your mask!?” First off, I don’t need to wear a mask in my own yard and I certainly don’t have to defend that (so I didn’t). But, what’s happening here? Suddenly everyone’s a police officer on patrol. I think we can do better than this. Actually, I know we can.
If someone approached you and said, Do you mind wearing a mask? I feel really uncomfortable and scared. That’s a very different approach from, where’s your mask?! And yes, I wear a mask in stores and out of respect for others.
We can meet each other within our vulnerability and shared experiences. We can soften and bend. We can help each other and hold hands through this (at least virtually).
Start with taking stock of your own feelings. Check in and ask yourself how you are doing, how you are feeling. Allow what needs to be seen to step forward. Maybe you’re like me and the mask makes you feel disconnected…if so, consider what you can do to see the WE instead of taking sides and arguing points.
These are tricky, unprecedented times without a guide book. Perhaps we would best be served to connect more to each other — with less judgment, more compassion.
Less digging in our heels when it comes to seeing life as right or wrong, black or white — and embracing more gray. More US. More room for our souls to be who they want to be…masked or unmasked.
We don’t need polarization or anything to divide us any further. When we do, the stakes become higher, the divides deeper and less easy to gap. Let’s not allow that to happen.
This isn’t about COVID…but rather kindness — how we interact with each other, how we respect one another and hold space where we can meet. Let’s not allow any situation to divide YOU and ME — and stand between WE. We need each other now more than ever — to find solutions, to navigate this all and to hold onto our compassion, to redefine what this new norm we are all navigating will be.
Let’s connect to the ‘US’ in virus — and take the ‘mean’ from meanness and make it MEANingful.
We are in this together — You. Me. We. Let’s hold onto that.
What have you been witnessing in others and in yourself of late…any similar observations? I’d love to hear how you’re feeling and navigating it all. Please share with us in the comments below.