In today’s modern society, we’ve been trained to be positive. Think positive and expect positive outcomes in return. From positive psychology, to Oprah, and of course to The Secret, a popular self-help book by Rhonda Byrnes that debuted in 2006, thinking positive has been culturally ingrained in us. We were taught by society to ask, believe, and receive. We were instructed to make vision boards of our goals and to have positive mantras to say to ourselves when life got overwhelming. These were all great and beautiful ideals that encouraged so much good in the world. Much of this advice was helpful and it worked for many people. Until now that is…
This global economic crisis and the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic has shattered that positive thinking mindset. Many of us (minus those of the doomsday stocked-bunker variety) find ourselves to be wildly underprepared for the negativity that is to come. Not only are we ill-prepared in terms of physical items like equipment, medicine, and food, but also in terms of emotional tools and coping mechanisms.
The general public’s gap between a positive mindset and coming to terms with reality has never been this wide. Our brains need to form a very long mental bridge to help fill the huge void between our positive mindsets and accepting reality as it truly is. People who have grown up with hardships understand this more so, as they’ve had to adapt and cope in order to survive whatever difficult hands they’ve been dealt in life. However, for the many people out there who have lived relatively sheltered lives, this is going to be extremely challenging.
We want to believe that good things happen to good people. We want to believe in karma and good vibes and spreading positivity. These are all beautiful values that make the world a better place, and positivity of course plays an important part in keeping our spirits alive during this challenging time. However, it seems like with the current state of the world, this positive mindset is leaving us with false hope mixed with misleading optimistic theories. When we as general members of the public cling to these positive ideals without accepting reality, we put the number one value of humanity, the sanctity of life, at risk. We are not prepared emotionally for what is coming. No matter what kind of medical, emergency, or psychological training you might have, this is something that NONE of us have ever lived through. We are going to see drastic numbers of COVID-19 cases rise, and we are going to see hospitals completely overrun. It is the absolute sad and awful truth of the situation that within a few weeks, we will be in a similar position as Italy. We need to accelerate awareness of this to our friends and family. The CDC Guidelines may sound pessimistic but we need to look at reality straight in the face and adapt. QUICKLY. The key to overcoming this pandemic lies in upholding practices of strict social distancing.
The Kubler-Ross Grief Cycle is a common pop psychology model that can be applied to exactly what is unfolding. The five stages include denial, anger, depression, bargaining, and acceptance. Our country and our world right now are going through a collective grief process. We are on the brink of an unprecedented global pandemic where unfortunately thousands, if not millions of people are going to be sick. Some might come out on the other side with minimal effects, but for others who are immuno-compromised or elderly, they might not make it out of this alive.
Various people are at different points in the five step model. Those in the denial stage are shocked, confused, or just want to avoid the news cycle and the warnings altogether. Others are in the anger stage, and they are filled with frustration and rage and constant questions. Many people in the depression stage are utterly overwhelmed upon realizing the sobering facts of the exponential growth of the mathematical models, because unfortunately the numbers don’t lie. Then comes the bargaining stage which involves struggling to find meaning and reaching out to others. Finally, the acceptance phase helps us to truly understand the reality of the situation so that proper action plans can be put into place.
The spring break celebration videos in Florida recently highlighted those in the denial or anger stages. Many of the interviewees emphasized the “me” instead of the “we” factor in all of this. It’s not just the Generation Z Spring Breakers, but many people of all ages and backgrounds are stuck in the denial and anger stages as a result of our own American ideals. We must come to the collective realization that we are all in the trenches together with fighting this war against coronavirus. The quicker we are going to internalize this and move to the acceptance phase, then the quicker we can work to overcome this virus.
At this moment, much of the general public is lacking in accepting reality the way it is and the way it will be in the weeks to come. We are capable of being disciplined when we truly understand reality. Our collective discipline will play a key role in our fight against coronavirus, as has been exemplified in South Korea, which has taken extreme measures to tackle the virus. It is imperative that the collective whole follows the CDC Guidelines, even if it is conflicting with our right to party and have fun. That is what we have technology for, to be with each other virtually and safely while completing the mission to stay physically away from each other. Just because we are social distancing does not mean that we can’t still be there for each other. We need human contact and connectedness now more than ever before to help get the message across. We are ALL in this together. If you can help those in your inner circle who are in the denial or anger phases move quickly towards the acceptance phase of our current reality, that could be a HUGE help to us all.