Understanding what is going on with your mind during a crisis is the only way to control your behavior and produce the best outcomes for yourself and others.
Crisis and Pandemic Fear
A crisis of any kind triggers our primitive mind, our fight, flight or freeze reaction. This is the part of our brain that we share with almost all living creatures. We don’t think about it. It is a natural reaction. For example, we hear an unexpected noise and we jump or freeze. We don’t think about. It just happens.
Fear is what causes people to hoard goods, to buy unnecessary things like guns. They are reacting to the fear and allowing it to filter all their decisions. They are not navigating crisis. The crisis is controlling them. These are the people who go to the grocery store when it is supposed to be reserved for senior citizens. They steal things they want from the shopping carts of others.
Crisis and pandemic situations trigger this primitive instinct. In a crisis, it is easy to become locked into this survival mentality. The allow the primitive mind to take control. This distorts their thinking making them self-centered and even narcissistic.
What makes us different from other creatures is the frontal cortex of our brain. This tool enables us to analyze what’s going on before we overreact. If we jump when we are close to a cliff we die because we overreact. So, learning to handle a crisis is helpful not only for your survival but also for the group and community.
Regaining emotional equilibrium is the only way to ensure you are making good decisions. When we make a decision based on fear or anger, it generally has negative consequences. So, here are the steps that will help you regain control of your mind.
1. Acknowledge the Fear
The first thing you need to do is admit you are afraid. Once you do this, then you can think about how to handle it. This will help you from acting out of fear. That’s because fear easily turns into anger.
So, yes, it is scary. But, I will not act in a selfish, self-serving way. I will preserve and protect the interests of myself and everyone in my circle of influence. Navigating crisis requires acknowledging but resisting fear.
2. Don’t Deny the Fear
Those that don’t acknowledge the fear deny it. They engage in activities that flaunt the danger. They put themselves at risk and ask others to do the same. This reinforces their denial. In a pandemic, these are the people who refute the opinions of the epidemiologists and scientists, preferring the advice of political or religious pundits. Above all, don’t get caught up in this type of thinking.
3. Follow Qualified Experts
Follow the advice of health experts (1). If you see others providing conflicting advice, don’t follow them. Situations in a crisis change rapidly. Be prudent in your actions. Resist fear.
Stories of those who survived past crises tell us that those who stay calm and think about the long-term implications do better in the long run. Remember, the little old lady you met at the grocery store, and took the eggs out of her cart? Well, she will remember you. And, so will everyone else who observed you. In fact, your actions may be preserved on surveillance video.
4. Help Others
Be the person who helps those who can’t help themselves. This is the time to assist others. You may need help someday yourself. So, sow some seeds to help others when you can.
Crisis and pandemic situations can also bring out the best parts of humanity. Be a conduit of kindness and compassion instead of fear. Others will see your example and they will remember you were the one who gave up your eggs when your neighbor took them out of her cart.
5. Speak up
If you observe injustice speak up to the right resource. This includes voting and being involved with positive social change. Allow karma to do its work.
6. Manage the Stress
It’s important to remember that fear causes stress. Stress causes several health issues. So, use techniques to cope and manage your stress throughout the crisis. Your overall health and well depend upon your ability to think clearly and make the right choices. One of the best ways to control stress is mindfulness meditation. It only takes a few minutes to pause the allow yourself to regain emotional equilibrium.
Navigating crisis and pandemic situations is an important skill for everyone to learn. It puts things in perspective. We are one people on one planet. We need to learn to care for each other and the environment. Otherwise, we will suffer the consequences.
Interested in spiritual exploration? Check out the blended learning process at the core of our teaching process. It reflects what Joseph Campbell called the Hero’s Journey (2). Our learning options include both face-to-face and virtual learning sessions. Please consider donating and supporting our mission. This helps others learn the knowledge for developing their path.
(1) World Health Organization, who.int
Centers for Disease Control, cdc.org
(2) Joseph Campbell & Joseph Campbell’s book The Hero’s Journey, Wikipedia