The past weeks have turned the world and the way we do things upside down as the world adjusts to new norms like “social-distancing”, “self-isolation” and “quarantine”. But it’s in these times when we need human contact more than ever before, and not the ordinary, socially meaningless contact purported by social media either, but the kind of contact that makes us feel more whole.
The Institute For Creative Conversation believes that there is an opportunity, in this upside down COVID19 world, to find ways to do community better than before, an opportunity to truly connect and a responsibility to engage with each other in a way that not only protects our physical health, but our mental and spiritual health too.
What if this journey begins with taking responsibility for our own COVID19 story?
Whether we are consciously involved or not, by the time the world settles back into some form of normality, we will all have been inexorably changed by the COVID19 circumstances. The question is whether that change will be constructive or not and the only person responsible for that outcome is you.
So, to help with this journey we’ve put together some thoughts that will help you to author your own story in a meaningful way.
Be aware of “languaging”
All stories use language as the structural elements that create the story and meaning from that story. During this time, become aware of the language you are consuming – either through social media, or people you are remotely in contact with - and the meaning you are creating with your own thoughts and language.
Take for example children being home from school for an extended period of time.
You can choose to buy into the story of “how will we (as adults) cope with having the kids home for school for so long?” But the meanings children could draw from this type of languaging includes:
I must be a burden to my parents
My parents can’t cope having me around,
I make it VERY hard for my parents when I am at home.
Whilst that might not be what we mean, the languaging around having kids at home is very important and will have lasting implications in a post Covid-19 world.
You could choose to change the languaging to “It’s an amazing opportunity to be with my kids more.” OR “As a family we’re going to come through this extended time together stronger.” The meaning children derive from this type of story then becomes:
My parents can cope with this unpredictable world so when I am an adult, I will be able to cope with an unpredictable world too.
My parents like having me around
As a family, we are resilient
In the words of an old saying – think before you speak. The words you say can only be forgiven not forgotten.
Be curious as to the meaning other people are making out of the COVID19 environment.
These are unprecedented circumstances and it’s very easy to decide on a position and then judge those around you who have decided differently to you.
One of the most effective ways of creating your own COVID19 story is to consciously understand your own view and then, be genuinely curious about why other people have the view they have.
This gentle curiosity is what will draw us into natural community, even if it is through a computer, and will help us all to document our journey so that we can learn and understand and come out stronger than we were before.
Make no assumptions
This is the time to actively assume nothing about another person. Particularly if relationships are going to survive social distancing and the enormous strain the COVID19 environment exerts on all members of society.
So when a person reacts in a particular way, or changes their view point on an element of the COVID19 world, it’s up to you to choose to be gentle, to choose to be kind, to choose to be respectful even if you don’t understand their actions.
Finally, in authoring your own COVID19 story, we encourage everyone to choose community, even if it is a physically distant community. Choose to share with each other in meaningful ways, choose to stay in contact, choose relationship strengthening, choose community.