During the era of covid-19, we’re all probably confused about something. What can we do to get clarity?
In the recent months, people have been given a lot of advice on how to live. Way more than we’ve ever, in our timeline, been given.
And the advice given is as varied dumplings are across cultures (is that an idiom? if not, I think it should be).
I’m writing this because I’ve been making decisions lately that have felt so hard, challenging, and I literally am suffering as I weigh the pros and cons of all the scenarios.
Straight up, I’m confused.
What is happening to us that we’re all in this constant confused space?
First of all, we’re not wired to take in so much horrific information. Literally, our mammalian brain can not make any decision but fight, flight, freeze when we’re under constant stress.*
The capacity for sound decisions is extremeley reduced when we’re stressed. And I believe it’s true that most people have been stressed to the max in the past 6 months. Therefore, we’re on the clock 24/7 with a type of vigilance against a threat (in this case, covid-19) that’s causing our emotions to be un regulated, or feeling out of our control.
Secondly, we’re scrambling to connect and it’s hurting us.
According to anthropologist Robin Dunbar, our hunter gatherer selves (what we’ve all evolved from) can only know 150 — maximum. That means that when we connect on social media, which most of us are doing for community, we care about everyone. That, for some of us, could mean we’re involving ourselves in thousands of people’s lives. Or even if you’re not on social media, if you read a news story about a person that person registers as part of your community. *
Yes, even though we’re ordering groceries online we’ve all evolved (not that long ago) from hunter gatherer mentality.
What’s the result of letting thousands of people into your community? Simply, overload for your system.
What can we do?
First of all, I believe noticing that this information overload is happening is the first step. Connecting to the fact that yes you’re brain isn’t meant to process this information may help you find compassion.
Next, I recommend then finding out for yourself what you can do to regulate yourself. Because, as Dr. Stuart Shanker says in his book Self-Reg, when you’re able to break the stress cycle, you can engage fully in life.
For me, it’s exercise daily, getting alone time, and sleeping well. When I’ve taken care of these super basic aspects of myself, I can handle stress better.
I believe the goal is never to remove stress from your life, because that would mean you’re not alive, basically. Instead, it’s time to figure out how you can be grounded and resourced to then make the next best move.
From that resourced place, the confusion starts to wane. From there, you’re magnificent structure of knowing, wisdom, and understanding can be at the forefront of your experience — instead of your fight, flight, freeze self.
Whatever level of confusion or clarity you have today, I embrace you.
R o s e
*Robin Dunbar research found here. First learned about her work here.
*Learned from the book Self-Reg by Dr. Stuart Shanker, Penguin Press, 2016.
Hi! I’m an artist, mentor, and researcher, among many other things. Connect with me more by receiving my newsletter, here.