Friday, April 3, 2020

COVID-19: Perseverance and Stress

If you are treading water right now just to keep your head above water, you are not alone.  All across America, people are struggling to regain their balance from the foundational shake that COVID-19 has brought to the country.  What's the most important thing to keep at the forefront of your mind during this crisis?  It is to keep putting one foot in front of the other, and not give up!  Perseverance is important not only because giving up won't solve, or even help a problem, but it's also important because you won't find out how strong you really are if you give up.

We frequently hear about the importance of resilience as a trait that helps people bounce back from trauma or hardship.  But what about the skill of endurance?  Endurance is when we demonstrate the ability to sustain a difficult situation for a prolonged period of time.  And that is what COVID-19 is asking of us all.  That is--enduring quarantines, and showing the staying power we find within ourselves to withstand Stay-at-Home orders whenever they are put in place.

Endurance also has a lot of determination and consistency in it.  With COVID-19 we are repeatedly asked to show consistent behavior of change when it comes to not touching our face, and washing our hands, or not shaking hands, and keeping a six foot distance from those around us.  But the virus situation has also lead to economic scare and financial fears, anxieties and insecurities that will also require staying power.  You might be about to discover how much you can live without and it's very important that you face these challenges to the best of your ability.

One thing that keeps us from finding our inner sense of endurance and staying power is Catastrophic Thinking.  In this kind of faulty thinking we not only imagine the worst case scenario (something life-threateningly dangerous), but we also add to that imagined scenario the belief that we would never be able to handle the worst case scenario.  "I'd lose my job and income, and then I'd not be able to support my family, and then I'd lose the house, and then we'd have to move to a smaller place", and so the line of continuous downward spiraling thoughts go.

What's not considered in this kind of thinking is the idea that even if things got that bad, you might discover (with staying power and determination) that you actually could survive these difficult situations.  They would not be pleasant or enjoyable, and of course, no one wants them to happen.  But if they did happen, consider the idea that you could survive them.  You still have all your fingers and toes after job loss, and you can still live and breathe in a smaller living area, and you could live on less, and so on.

Marathon runners know all about endurance, but so do those who are oppressed.  The runners literally know how to keep putting one foot in front of the other and the oppressed have no choice but to put one tired and frustrated, psychological and emotional foot in front of the other.  Both teach us that giving up is not only unwise, but also not necessary.  You can survive this difficult time, through all of its anxieties and hardships.  And in doing so you will discover a side of yourself that you never knew was there all along.  If your anxiety is taking hold and fear is setting into your bones--be it about illness or poverty--, challenge your Catastrophic Thinking right now and put a stop to allowing hopelessness to take root.  You are so much more than you think you are, and capable of twice as much.

Thanks to Gabriel S. Delgado C. for the dynamic photo.