Coronavirus: The difference between fear and awareness
Hey there! It’s me, again—your friendly, neighborhood trauma educator, here to talk to you about what fear does to your brain and why that’s going to be important for you to know in the next 6+ months.
I do believe that the Coronavirus poses a significant public health risk. I also believe that it will have (and already has had) a ripple effect on various things in our society. My “belief” is based on looking at what is already happening, listening to experts in the field of infectious disease, economics and social behavior, as well as my own intuition on the matter.
Awareness is an important tool for these times, when making decisions that will impact yourself and others. So, be alert and aware, but be mindful of tipping into fear.
Fear will greatly impact your ability to make much needed informed decisions. Here’s why…
When we experience a real or perceived threat, we move out of logical response into a conditioned, reactive response, or what I call our primary trauma response pattern.
Here are 5 well established trauma responses and how I, personally, define their “strategy” (which is to say that you may see various ways these 5 responses are laid out:
Fight: seek survival through overpowering
Flight: seek survival through escape
Freeze: seek survival through desensitization
Fawn (aka Friend): seek survival through connection
Flop: seek survival through compliance
When a threat hits, like Coronavirus, we will each be likely to move into one of the above conditioned states. For example, Fight people may “arm” themselves—which could literally be with anything from toilet paper to ammunition. Flight people may minimize the threat (avoidance). Freeze people may feel overwhelmed and confused about next steps. Friend people may look to others for guidance. Flop people may feel completely powerless. These are just examples and there are so many manifestations, so don’t think of these as absolute examples. Not everyone buying TP is necessarily in their Fight response.
What I am saying here is “human, know thyself.” Which response feels most resonant, as your primary go-to? And from that place of self awareness, be mindful of your tendencies that come up in response to Coronavirus, and the surrounding implications.
We are going to need to stay as centered as possible in the months to come.