PANDEMIC PEACE – Relevant Resilience for COVID-19

A friend recently encouraged me by saying, “its at times like this that we need to hear from others” – isolation may be the best approach for communicable disease management, but it is not kind to our psyches. Accepting her encouraging nudge, I decided to write to you regarding how the Resilience Credo might help you today – as we grapple with what some are calling a pandemic: COVID-19.

Imagine we are seated in a quiet coffee shop to enjoy a smooth dark roast, or possibly an Americano Misto, one of my new favourites. We connected to generally catch up, but also to chat about what we see and hear around us regarding the Coronavirus in an effort to discern and sort the relevant from the crazy. If you know me, you know that I don’t dwell at the surface very long, so I might ask how you are holding up; is your heart at peace, or is fear gaining a stronghold? We can learn much by paying attention to the heart. If you tell me that you are at peace, I might ask you what you are doing to maintain that peace, as people escalate their over-reactions of binge buying, stockpiling and hoarding…etc.

If you reply that you are somewhat fearful of where this all may lead, I would most likely head in the direction of at least a few components of The Resilience Credo. I might start with the RESPONSE: “I choose to humbly and purpose-fully exercise my freedom to respond, to be aligned in principle, word and behaviour — expanding my capacity in life and mission”. It is easy to see the effects of overreaction – the stockpiling and hoarding of supplies is one tell, but the hysteria evident in the tone of some conversations is another. Response expands capacity – overreaction limits the clarity of thought required for capacity. Something I try to personally practice along with response is to pause and slow my thinking down as I source information (from credible sources) and then work to understand, and plan accordingly.

Coupled closely with response is CURIOSITY: “I choose curiosity rather than defensiveness, to keep conflict healthy, ideological and objective, remaining vulnerably open to listen to understand, in the discovery of truth”. There are lots of opinions out there – especially in social media. People are making judgements – and where there are judgements there is opportunity for defensiveness. We can be looking at the same issue and be seeing it very differently.

From there I might head in the direction of AWARENESS: “I choose to grow in mindful awareness of the impacts of my attitude, thoughts, behaviour and communication, and the dynamics that hinder and/or enhance them”, which directly connects to  PERSPECTIVE: “I understand that purpose and meaning exist as opportunity and that I have a valuable role to serve within my circle of influence”. How I choose to respond enables effectiveness within my circle of influence. Many are not aware of the impacts of their Hysteria on others – and everyone has a circle of influence, therefore all are impacting in some way. We may not have the reach or ability to stem the tide of a pandemic, nevertheless we have a valuable role to play; for our character to serve. I am practicing both of these right now, as I write to you.

I personally felt the need to practice GRACE on our return flight. Media saturation of the topic had increased exponentially since our departure, just 10 days earlier, and people were demonstrating a variety of responses. I caught a small glimpse of how fear could grow on a plane, as some were wearing masks, while others cough openly (just 2 seats behind me). There were language barriers that could also elevate concerns.  The Credo practice for GRACE is: “I understand that no one is perfect, so I choose to embrace life, self and others with grace, neutralizing fear through empathy and compassion, enabling peace, growth, and fulfillment”. Now, doesn’t grace sound like something useful at this moment; to “neutralize fear through empathy and compassion”? I practiced this by smiling at the baby, who was held in the mask-wearing grandmother in front of me. Breathing in a space where many would fear to breathe.

Finally, there is TRUST: “I understand that trust is a decision, and that my character is revealed and grown through each decision I make – I desire to work, speak and act in ways that make me trustworthy and safe”. Trust is a decision. Who or what I trust in determines the depth, strength and security of the foundation that I have in moments of crisis.

If we have had coffee, you have likely heard me bridge to deeper thoughts with something like, “I don’t mean to preach, so I will only share my view on this at your invitation”. If you smile and say, “please continue”, I would continue…

I have been reflecting on this one today, just prior to writing this post. Not because of COVID-19, but rather because 2 of my relatives in their mid-fifties just passed away this week. Death is tragic, and it leaves others behind to mourn.  Whether its cancer, a sudden heart attack, or disease, death will eventually come to us all. But, there is also nothing like death to make us think about life; about how we want to live, and even why we live. You’ve likely heard it before, “we all die, but we don’t all really live”. Ironically, we fear death less when we have a reason to live that is compelling — it takes our focus off ourselves. So the question of, “what will I do with whatever days I have left” becomes more important than, “how will I avoid COVID-19”.

Deeper still….when I look at my body I see the obvious evidence of design. If design, then there is a designer. If I can come to know (even a little) of the heart of the designer, then I can choose to trust – trust that I am sustained, and that life has meaning – even in death – and I have made that choice.

I am always up for coffee – in person, or virtual/under quarantine. If you’d like to explore any of this, just reach out.