“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.” — Will Durant
We are nearly a month into what may become the most severe and damaging crises the world has faced in the last 20 years. While we are being tested via the social impacts of COVID-19, there arises an opportunity for a fundamental shift in our daily habits and routines. Self-isolation and social distancing can be used as tools for hunkering down and bringing more focus to our personal development; including meditation practices and shadow work.
I feel that one of the challenges we face, collectively and individually, is the potential to fall into socially defined structures of perspective and behavior. There is a lot of fear surrounding this pandemic and it can become easy to be guided by that fear and become caught up in herd mentality, rather then having our decisions and meanings informed by intelligent introspection.
We must be conscious agents during these challenges and embrace the opportunity we have now to re-define what it means to be human. We can bring more attention to elevating the quality of our interactions and also deepen our awareness of others to broaden the circle of our care. Events such as these which present equal threat to everyone has the potency of bringing us together in deeply meaningful ways and can cut through the layers of superficial relating and shallow social interactions.
So the choice we have is between being influenced by socially defined behaviours or self authoring our meanings and actions. To self author is to embrace the agency of our decision making and bring into alignment our thoughts, words, and actions quite separate from what might be the current trend in larger social environments.
Start Where you Are
If we were to model our lives through the lens of being a social organism, we would begin by including direct family members [or those we cohabitate with] within a circle, which would represent the first order of care, or those whose our relationship with is most meaningful to us and has the greatest impact to what we consider our own well being.
Within this first circle is where we will be most challenged due to the proximity (and duration) of our interactions. Those who exist in this first circle of care are the co-actors of our newly scripted story; where we can alter and develop our ability to deepen our social interactions. When we might have had less time or energy to spend with our children, siblings, or partner because of the daily routines we usually were engaged with, we now have the opportunity to really join with our tribe and discover new ways of being a tribe.
This can include periods of play, periods of growth, and periods of learning. As we all know, there is a wide variety of resources online that we can pull on to enrich our days together and promote the development of our tribal identity and sense-making. Our ancestors joined in this way a majority of the time, and it was in these spaces that the stories and “myths” of life’s great mysteries were created. We have an opportunity now to write our own and take them into a (hopefully) new world of being, once this crises has been passed.
This will also be a time when unhealthy habits and routines will come to the forefront of our awareness. Again, another opportunity to visit our shared space and re-write the story of how we choose to be together and how we can assist in our tribes growth, cultivating healthy stories and ways of being.
A healthy activity that can be done with our family is to spend some time (perhaps during a meal or a quiet moment in the evening) to create a space that promotes transparency and truthfulness. Each person can take an opportunity to share their personal thoughts and emotions, bringing everything that may be going on in their interior domains into the open to be better understood and recognized by not only the person sharing, but by group in general.
Older members may want to begin so as to define the structure of the exercise as well as to initiate the “Safe space” for sharing.
The Second Circle
As we move into the second circle, which will include not only your first circle of care but also extend to include your community, consisting of your neighbors and closest friends and perhaps even extended family [depending on how your family is structured], the goal becomes to generate a new way of being and a new way of sharing.
I’ve noticed an interesting perspective arising online in response to the self-isolation and social distancing guidelines handed down by medical and government officials. There seems to be a ripple of xenophobia emerging as the energy of fear may be hijacking our sense-making faculties and lending to a growing distrust and dislike for people of not only different countries but even to the extent of different townships and communities and the differing age groups (Boomers VS Millennials) as well.
What we need to remain conscious of is that even though it is important that we reduce our travelling as well as our interactions with people to “flatten the curve”, it is not necessary to draw these lines in our mind; artificially segregating ourselves and falling victim to the “Us VS Them” mentality. That would be taking several steps backwards. and ignoring that we are all going through this together.
So how can we develop more meaningful interactions with this larger circle of care while also recognizing our responsibility to keep a distance?
There are many examples which have been shared online, including instances where people are embracing more meaningful interactions while not being able to “share the same space”. There are some of these examples below.
This too shall pass
One of the most important things we need to remember is that “this too shall pass”, and life will return to normal. However, do we really want what used to be “normal” to return, or do we want to re-surface from our isolation with new meaningful and authentic ways of showing up with each other?
This is the decision we must each make, and now is the time to make it.