Dealing with Uncertainty

These past few days, I’ve been battling a mild virus. I feel utterly ridiculous for thinking it might be COVID-19 and, at the same time, idiotic for not considering it. Talk about a catch 22. I feel like I’ve fallen down a rabbit hole into some bizarre, disorienting reality where nothing is as it seems. Under normal circumstances, if I were mildly sick, I would have gone on with my scheduled plans. My experience amid a COVID-19 world has raised all kinds of unexpected thoughts.

Do I stay home even though I don’t feel that sick? Will people think I’m entirely over-reacting? Will I be made fun of? Do I tell others I don’t feel 100 percent and if I do, will I be vilified and socially isolated for being sick?

There have been a lot of conflicting thoughts I’ve had about responsibility. Am I being responsible by carrying out my commitments and plans or am I being irresponsible? Who should I be thinking about here – the people I’m going to let down by not showing up this week or the vulnerable in our population who might be affected if this “mild thing” I have going on is actually COVID-19?

There is every indication that we are to take this virus very seriously, from the closing of schools and borders to travel bans and recommendations to isolate socially. The thing is the information changes hour by hour. What I know for sure is that we are living in uncertain times. Yesterday’s normal is gone.

I have this desire to lock down with certainty – to pass it off as overreaction and be convinced this is nothing to worry about or to try to contain the fears by reading every news update, to stock up on hand sanitizer and be prepared. The truth is both of these reactions are a way to deal with feeling uncertain. What I know for sure is that I don’t like uncertainty. It makes me uncomfortable. There is fear in not knowing. While dealing with COVID-19 is new to all of us, fear is not new. Not to me and probably not to you.

So how do we deal with fear and uncertainty?

  • We acknowledge it.
  • We decide who we want to be before we decide what we want to do.

Who do I want to be? I want to be honest, direct, courageous, kind, compassionate, creative, connected and full of faith. Reminding myself of this makes me settle down. It makes me feel anchored – like I can be me in the whirlwind instead of being swept away by it.

Knowing who I want to be, makes the “what to do” decisions come into more precise focus. If I feel sick (at all) I stay home, I tell others what is going on. For me, responding to feeling sick is a decision about caring for others and being kind. It is about courageously acknowledging that life can continue without me doing what I usually do or being where I feel I am supposed to be. If I’m feeling socially isolated, I find another creative way to connect – virtual coffee date, anyone?

In the rising panic all around us, slow down and ask yourself who you want to be. Let the foundation of who you are at your core, determine your actions in uncertain times.

Sue Das, Courage Coach, CPCC, ACC, B Soc Sc (SW)

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