Every perspective you see on Facebook, faux news, real news, Dr. Anthony Fauci, or Brad Pitt playing Dr. Fauci on television is just that: a perspective. And don’t worry: I’m not a pandemic expert, so I don’t have $.02 to share on COVID-19 data or models. But I do know a thing or two about perspectives. And what you need right now is your best perspective as the COVID-19 crisis continues.
Refuse to let your fear of the COVID-19 threat cause you to worry needlessly. Do your part to stay safe. And chose a perspective that will keep you moving instead of paralyzed.
1. Future Perspective
Is the COVID-19 crisis one that you will be talking about 20 years from now? Probably. This virus is a defining moment of our times in the same way The Great Depression was for an earlier generation.
My parents grew up in the aftermath of The Great Depression. From their own parents, they learned to eat what was put in front of them, save for a rainy day, and not to dispose of anything that could be repurposed.
What lessons are you learning right now that you will take forward to help you in the future?
2. Past Perspective.
Most of us have lived through multiple crises and changes…and we’ve survived. During challenging times, we need to be reminded of that: we’ve survived. While you may have faced doubts, fears, and uncertainty during those times, what successes can you draw upon to help you today?
3. Severity Perspective.
Not only have we survived past crises and changes, but we likely encountered larger, more severe events. I knew people who moved off-the-grid in preparation for Y2K. Their perception of the Y2K threat was that it was the biggest threat of their generation.
Think of the largest challenge you’ve personally faced before: an ugly divorce, job loss, homelessness, addiction, loss of a loved one, etc. Many people want to quit when they face these hardships. You didn’t. You’re still here. What strength did you draw on to survive?
4. Distance Perspective.
If you keep your eyes on the news, your savings, or retirement accounts, it’s impossible to get distance. You see only terrible outcomes because you’re eyeball deep in the dreadful.
Get some space. There’s a reason people say “Sleep on it” or “Take the weekend to think it over” when they give you a multifaceted decision to make. Depending on the size of the challenge you face, you might be able to create space and perspective by taking a walk, reading a book, or watching a movie. To get distance, all you need is to step out of the stressful parts of the here-and-now as a way to regain perspective.
5. Extreme Perspective.
When facing crisis or change, we often conjure up the worst case scenario about how things will end. Right now, you might be saying to yourself, “Am I going to lose my job…or career?”, “How will I pay the bills?”, or “What if someone I love dies?” That’s a worst-case scenario. It’s human nature to jump to the negative extreme.
How about the opposite side of the extreme? What is the best that could happen? Could the economic challenges lead you to your dream job? What if some of the lessons you are learning while working or quarantining at home open a new door for you?
6. Likely Perspective.
Watching the COVID-19 models is like watching a winter storm forecast. Weathermen should say, “Expect 0-36′ of snow.” COVID-19 experts could say, “Expect millions dead. Or not.”
What is the likely outcome of the COVID-19 crisis? Given that we base many of our beliefs on our previous experiences, that fact that we’ve come this far gives us hope that we will still be here tomorrow. I’m not suggesting that you deny the very real threat or make decisions to sabotage the welfare of yourself or others, but I am suggesting you don’t let that sense of doom paralyze you. Keep hope alive. So based on what is most likely to happen in the end, how does that inform you about the choices you make today?
7. Mom Perspective.
I used to live a few miles from my parents. When we got lots of snow, I would call my mom to tell her not to shovel because I would come over and take care of it. She would say, “I don’t want you out in this weather, either. Just stay home where it’s safe.” As a child, whenever I expressed worry to my mom, she would say, “Scott, it’s going to be okay.” She didn’t offer tangible suggestions or even commiserate. She just told me that she thought things would work out okay.
We all have friends who should have been named Eeyore. No matter how blue the skies are, they will find a patch of grey. Don’t give these friends free reign to your ears right now. What you need instead is a “mom” or the type of friend who offers reassurance and hope. It’s on you to do everything in your power to stay safe in this crisis, and it’s on you to seek companions who lift you up instead of drag you under.
If my mom were still alive, she would no doubt tell me those same two things: (1) stay home, and (2) it will be okay.
Do your part to stay safe. And choose a perspective that will keep you moving instead of paralyzed.
What perspective would you add?