Since writing Britain needs Lerts, I have been alert to the extent, or not, that I have been following my own advice.
For example, the other day, I was doing my essential, infrequent, main shop in a different supermarket to usual. I became aware that I had entered browse mode; picking up unfamiliar items and seeing if the ingredients resonated with me. After a few minutes of this it occurred to me that other people may have been doing the same; people who had just coughed . . .
I switched to looking but not touching. It wasn’t too long before I decided that I had got what I needed and checked out.
That evening, on the news, a parent who did not want to send their children back to school, was explaining how he wanted it to be totally safe first. My reaction rather shocked me; “Please! Get real!” .
I suppose I am lucky; having worked in quality and reliability for 17 years, I am used to risk analysis, to assessing potential hazards.
Thus it is quite easy for me to admit and to accept that we can never be totally safe these days. If we ever were. We have always faced hazards from viruses, from traffic . . . from other people. Covid-19 is just another one of those hazards. But we seem to have allowed our fear of it to dictate our feelings and blind us to common sense.
In managing my own fears and anxieties I have noticed that, when I take the effort to face and deal with those fears (not easy, but possible), then those anxieties fade away; along with the various symptoms that come with them. I find that my IBS and, through this pandemic, prickly heat, actually provide a pretty accurate indicator of how realistic my thoughts and feelings are at that time.
Is this not a key aspect of health self-management for many mental-health conditions? When we can get our inner understanding of a situation to match the external reality, then we will be at peace with the world, and within ourselves.
Or, put another way, in the words of the famous Serenity Prayer:
Give me the courage to change the things I can,
The patience to accept the things I cannot,
And the wisdom to know the difference
Isn’t that effectively the same as being alert to how our internal perspective differs from the external reality . . . and responding accordingly ?
We can also be alert to the possibility that this pandemic, if not sent to try us, is an opportunity to be more realistic in our expectations . . .
And that means less disappointments
And, if enough of us adopt this approach as we come out of lockdown, that could enable a new normal that is actually sustainable . . . for ourselves . . . and our planet.