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During these difficult times, we are experiencing a considerable amount of change. It is projected that even further changes will need to be made in order for us to regain a sense of normality again. When factors beyond our control emerge, it may be easy for an individual to follow the collective consciousness, in which one may feel – fear, anxiety, frantic, and paranoia amongst others. These feelings are normal feeling states in response to an extreme threat such as a threat to one’s; life, employment, and health amongst others. What we are actually experiencing is grief. We are grieving the way things were prior to this epidemic. The changes will impact us in certain ways which will elicit different feelings within us. Kubler Ross formulated a theory of an individual’s process when dealing with grief. By no means is this model a linear model in which an individual does not particularly have to pass through these stages after each other.

Denial

In this stage the individual would deny the grief as a way to protect oneself in order to feel less overwhelmed.

Anger

In this stage the individual would experience a certain amount of anger due to the changes which would have occured.

Bargaining

In this stage the individual would try to make some compromise in order to resolve the negative feelings which initiated due to the change.

Depression

In this stage the individual would experience a bout of sadness as one has to get used to life with the necessary changes.

Acceptance

In this stage the individual would experience a sense of peace as the necessary changes have been made and the situation is now manageable and accepted the loss of the past.

Therefore, we are all experiencing a process of change due to this situation. How we manage our relationship with change is our personal mission to ensue. I would like to quote a pioneer in existential therapy – Viktor Frankyl who endured hardship in Auschwitz and managed to survive the experience within the concentration camp.

“When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.”

“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”

I think there has never been a time in which these quotes resonate with me so much. To attend to things which are within our control is imperative, in order to keep us aware of what’s happening around us. Choosing to focus on what you can control will ultimately elicit hope. Hope is a comfortable medium between optimism and despair. As a species we have our rational capacities, we can think about our own demise, have certain foresight into the future, and predict other dangers. We know for a fact that some of these worries will actually happen to us and this will elicit a lot of pain. What we can do is change our behaviour in order to minimize the impact of the negative outcome.

In order to choose an attitude one needs to understand what the meaning is in one’s life? As Nitzsche stated  “He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how.”  However people are not always aware of their meaning, and this creates anxiety. Existential theorists state that this is perfectly fine.  As long as individuals make the choices that they authentically want to pursue in which individuals listen to their intuition, then the process of finding their meaning will take its course.

References:

Frankl, V. E. (1984). Man’s search for meaning: An introduction to logotherapy. New York: Simon & Schuster.

Karl Grech is a counsellor. He offers counselling to both individuals and couples within Willingness. He can be contacted on karl@willingness.com.mt or call us on 79291817.