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Don’t let your fears override your common sense

Most of us have faced challenges and uncertainty every day of our lives. Under the current circumstances, things are no different, except we have to do things in a different way now. For many, this has created an incredible amount of uncertainty, which provokes fear and every other negative emotion. We’re hearing about it on the news, which everyone is tuning in to. The biggest challenge is the uncertainty about paying rent or a mortgage and putting food on the table. When you add in that families are cooped up together, emotions are spiking. You hear that abuse is on the rise, as before, spouses and kids weren’t spending 24/7 under the same roof.

When you have to go out for groceries, you find that civility has been replaced by fear, short tempers, and directions to stand on the X, not look at anyone, and, for God’s sake, not laugh or try to make someone feel better. On my last trip out to the store to buy what I needed, I noticed that more and more as of late, with this social distancing, no one wants to look anyone in the eye. Instead, you can feel the fear. It comes from the employees, as well. At the cash register, everyone is protected, and you feel the fear in their eyes as they stare at you. Gone is “Did you find everything you need?” What you hear now might as well be Keep the hell back and away from me.

Fear multiplies and has a ripple effect, which you take back home and pass on. All this does is create anxiety and angst in everyone else. Social distancing doesn’t mean you can’t offer a smile, a hello, a kind word, or maybe a joke and some laughter. We need to discipline ourselves and not let ourselves overreact to our fears or think of the worst-case scenario, because in doing that, all you are doing is bringing yourself and others down. If you think about it, the worst-case scenario almost never happens. All that uncertainty comes through in your voice, your thoughts, and spreads from one person to the next. Human beings have a herd mentality, and our survival instinct can and does rear its ugly head in times like these. But instead, think about your power, which has nothing to do with keeping your distance.

(And if you are watching the news 24/7, remember the media has always thrived on sensationalism and getting a rise out of you.)

You can solve any problem you face. Look at the chaos, but look also at people uniting and coming together and supporting each other. If you fear the worst, you are allowing those fears to overtake you and your family. For my family, yeah, we’ve encountered challenges, but we’ve just flipped them into a different way of doing things. School has ended for my daughter, who thrives on social contact and is an athlete, part of the rangers, and a member of after-school leadership groups. Everything has also ended for my autistic son, including his social skills therapy and his only job. My other son still has a job at the grocery store, but he hasn’t let fear overtake him. “Just use some common sense,” he says. So my daughter now does her schoolwork online, and she’s created a mini Special Olympics fitness program for my autistic son, which they do every day. Yes, I’ve been dragged into it, and for me, the only downside is that I’ll be in the best shape of my life. She has a badminton net set up, and we do volleyball too. My other son has dug a garden for me out back and built a greenhouse, and I’ve started seeds there. We play games, do puzzles, and laugh. All we did was change how we do things.

Adapt. Don’t get stuck living in your mind and in fear. We’re all in this together. You can still say hi, you can offer a smile, you can still laugh, and you can still have a conversation. More importantly, when at home with your family, structure your day, and most of all, make sure you have some fun


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