#11 Under Or Over Reaction...

We as a society have had varying reactions to the coronavirus pandemic.

The majority of people have accepted the lockdown, even though they may be finding it difficult, knowing that they are protecting the most vulnerable in society.

However a small percentage of the population have had a markedly different response

At this time, across the world, groups of people are taking to the streets in protest of lockdown orders aimed at limiting the spread of the coronavirus. Why?

Most of us would agree that the lockdown is a necessary measures put in place to keep people safe and to ‘slow the curve’ so the the NHS is not overwhelmed.

So why are some people reacting to these measures as if they are taking away their civil liberties?

The protesters are holding signs asking for freedom over tyranny.

Governors have been likened to kings or dictators.

It seems to me that the protestors see authority figures in a certain light - one in which there is a misuse of power and where the public are being controlled unnecessarily.

There is a Buddhist saying that when a pickpocket sees a buddha all he sees is a wallet. What that means is that what we see depends so much on where we are coming from.

When you are a conspiracy theorist, coronavirus happens and what you are going to see is as a conspiracy.

Another reaction is that if you have been over disciplined by parents who perhaps didn’t have your best interests at heart and took away some of your rights, you might then have a negative filter on your relationship with authority and this makes it possible to see a lockdown put in place to protect you as actually taking away your civl liberties.

So how does this filtering of reality work?

Any child who was over disciplined and controlled would find this really painful, possibly too painful for him to be able to process and work through and come out the other side of.

If he doesn’t have an empathic witness to mirror his feelings to him so he can land in them and find his way into a grieving process then he has to do something else with the feelings. These feelings get pushed down and frozen.

Now these feelings don’t dissipate over time. They stay waiting to be processed, ready to re surface when ever something happens that is even the slightest bit similar to the original painful experience.

So someone who had an imbalance power in their childhood would have all sorts of feelings and thoughts come up in response to an authority figure telling them what to do. If they have had their rights taken away as children then being put on lockdown as an adult will brings up all the original thoughts and feelings from childhood and they will confuse these two encounters and have an overreaction to the present one.

That may be why we are seeing people risking their lives to protest against something which is actually in their best interests.

They are actually in an automatic response from childhood and this shrinks their perspective and stop them from having an overview. They lose sight that the real issue is the way the economic system is set up which has them living pay check to pay check with no savings. They fail to protest about this and fixate on the lockdown instead.

So how can I tell if my own reaction is legitimate?

One the one hand we have a pandemic and fear is natural. We have genuine reasons to be afraid. Genuine fear about the impact of our response to the infection in terms of employment and the economy.

On the other hand we have a situation where people’s fear is severe. There is a difference between fear and panic.

If the feelings are really charged and you are experiencing them all the time then it’s likely that this has nothing to do with any immediate threat. The two are not the same thing. They might be feelings from your past showing up now.

Something interesting is that the people who have an exaggerated fear response may constantly believe themselves to be under threat and then any other threat exacerbates this

As a rule of thumb, in response to a genuine fear we can strategise. The other fear overwhelms us.

Another possible response is depression. Is this about the present. Well its possible.

For instance, people are currently outside of their normal routines. They cannot see friends, are not going out to work, may be coping with looking after the children while also working from home. There are genuine reasons to feel down.

But if you find yourself feeling suicidal or unable to get out of bed at all, you may need to look at what is happening for you. These might be feelings that have been there for some time but have been managed by your daily routine helping you to keep on top of them. There might be a deeper issue that needs your attention

Of course there are also people not feeling enough feelings at all. One pattern I have been noticing is people who are talking themselves out of having any fear response to the pandemic at all. They tell themselves such things as ‘If I think positive then the virus will not happen to me’. They are as out of touch with reality as the people who have an overreaction. They have bypassed their feelings by telling themselves a mental story and existing within it.

Like I said there is no doubt that these are trying times and that having difficult feelings are normal in the circumstances, but it’s the over and under reactions that might need some attention.

Whatever your experience of the pandemic I hope you are keeping safe and well and managing as best you can in these unprecedented times.