We’re being advised to stay away from everyone on the planet—everyone except those we live with. We have to spend time with them. We have to spend literally all of our time with them. How can we do this without driving each other nuts?
Living in close quarters in stressful situations is especially challenging. Many of us are faced with new and unfamiliar challenges, such as homeschooling children, working remotely, or making less money. While facing these challenges we are also deprived of many of the outlets for pressure that we have always been able to count on in the past—spending time with friends, going out on the town, or spending the afternoon at a ball game. Spending all of our time in what amounts to a bunker means figuring out how to get along. It means being extremely specific and intentional about what bothers us and how to resolve those irritations without impacting those around us. It means getting to know ourselves in this new reality.
Times like these can feel like a slow car accident. You’re in a skid and you know the crash is coming, but it hasn’t arrived yet.
Reading the news and learning about the severity and extent of the disease—the number of deaths and the impact on the economy—can cause a state of extreme stress and anxiety. Then you go about your day, and you experience all the typical sounds of your house. You see cars going by as if nothing has changed. You run into people you know at the grocery store and chat about your kids and how your families are holding up. You stop and get gas on your way home. Even though circumstances are inexorably changed, so many aspects of our lives feel exactly the same.
Do you find yourself worrying constantly and running through worst-case scenarios in your head, or are you able to remain calm, keep some perspective, and find ways to make a positive difference? As I’m writing this, the planet is facing its worst public health crisis in a hundred years. The Coronavirus Disease 19 (COVID-19) is a newrespiratory virus first identified in Wuhan, China, in December 2019. As of this writing, 209 thousand people have been infected, and nine thousand people have died from the disease. It’s pretty scary. When faced with a crisis of this magnitude—one that has implications for our very lives and livelihoods—we enter uncharted territories. We face situations, choices, and challenges that we’ve never faced before. In some cases, we have to decide between our own and our families’ health and safety and the greater good. It’s during times like these that we really come to know ourselves and what we’re made of.
“I wish things could go back to the way they were…”How often have you experienced a life-changing event and wished you could go back to the way it was before? Do you wish that certain things would remain the way they are forever?There are a lot of reasons why people desire stability—they want their families to stay alive and stay healthy, they want to be comfortable financially, they want to be happy—we constantly take steps to give our lives a sense of permanence. We buy a house, save money, buy insurance, and in other ways try to guard the lives to which we’ve become accustomed.
Our world is filled with conflict—ideological conflicts, conflicts among countries, and honest disagreements between people.A lot of pain and suffering has resulted from conflicts, but is it the conflict itself that has caused the negative outcomes, or is it how the conflicts are handled?Conflict resolution has been studied and written about extensively, and there is a wide range of information available, but a glance through the news tells us that to many, winning conflicts is more important than resolving conflicts peacefully with lasting results. People will always disagree with each other. It’s one of the things that makes life interesting. If we all agreed all the time, think of how bland and boring life would be.Conflict is not inherently a negative thing, but it is often thought of as something to be avoided or quickly ended. However, conflict, if handled patiently and with an open mind, can help us to learn about each other and can ultimately lead to positive change. Unfortunately, people are often defensive about their opinions, feelings, and beliefs. This defensiveness can stem from associating our stance with a core value. In these instances, an honest disagreement can seem like a personal attack.