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The exhausting challenge. The amazing opportunity. Resilience . . . Plus . . .
At no time in my 60 years of life in America, has our collective life so totally invaded my, and our, private existence. The events, threats, and responses to Covid strike at our individual identity, our “who I am.” We are animals in three ways of which we are seldom aware, but each way now smacks us in the face:
We are social.
We are habitual.
We are keenly aware of threats to our safety.
An example and an example within the example. A number of bartenders in Texas defied Governor Abbot and opened yesterday. I’ll get to the bartenders, but first, note: I am social and happen to gravitate to progressives, northerners, elites; so I am quick to assume these bartenders are “bad and wrong.” I am habitual, so I judge them before I even know I’m judging them. I am aware of threats and worry and judge them for not taking the pandemic threat seriously.
My “friends,” the bartenders, are social, by very definition, by their very profession. They are habitual, too. Bartending is what they know, and being individualist Texans, too, is part of their social-habitual identity. And they see the threats to their existence. How will they feed their families, pay their employees, and care for their extended families of customers? Buried in the news stories about these “defiant” bar owners is that they are keenly aware of the Covid threat, too. Often they have cut capacity, opened outside, and are taking other precautions. After all, they want to protect their workers, customers, and themselves from the Covid risks.
The point about my habitual/knee jerk, social class, and fearful response – as well as that of the bartenders – is that (a) we are under enormous stress; (b) we have powerful habitual and social responses – e.g., to hug, high-five, go to the office, stop at the bar,go shopping, go to church, teach the class that don’t necessarily help us in these times; (c) our identity, our way of being, our health have all been put at risk. Is there a (d)? Yes:
(d) We can learn and choose to adapt.
I can be social by encircling myself by my group and disparaging those loser Texans, or I can be social by embracing with compassion our shared vulnerability and our tough choices. I can continue my habits of coping, or I can invent new ones, like the Sunday family Zoom calls which aren’t perfect, but have brought Mom and my 6 sibs and I closer and more appreciative than before the pandemic. And we can consciously manage all the threats with patience, responsibility, outreach to others, and compassion.
In that spirit, we invite you to a social: On Thursday at 1:00 PM Eastern and 10:00 Pacific, I will be joined by Anne Zehren. Her safety, well-being and identity were utterly wiped out, swept away by a different silent disease than Covid. She’s got about an 8-year head start on some of us in facing adversity and building resilience. She and I will share her experience and some core – possibly new – practices to build resilience in these times. The series is free, but we ask you to register here, as you
Lead with your best self.