I can’t contain it anymore. It has to be said, in all caps, even.
STOP. TELLING. PEOPLE. HOW. TO. FEEL.
Stop telling people in a roundabout way that they are stupid for being afraid of a serious infectious disease that is very difficult to contract.
Stop throwing charts and graphs out as though that will somehow make a person overwhelmed with emotion suddenly feel better. Truly.
Stop guilting people out of their fear by referencing even worse atrocities around the world.
Stop fighting fear and panic with frustration and anger.
Fear is real. Should I even go into the God given reasons fear can be a good thing?
Let’s just put it all out there, anything that can kill you is scary – infectious disease or otherwise. Guns are scary. Drugs are scary – even the good ones. Cancer is scary. Flu is scary. Entero virus is scary. Lordy, every time I get bit by a mosquito, I can’t help by wonder if I’m about to deal with West Nile Virus. Because, guess what West Nile Virus is scary. Life is scary, people. And it’s is ok to be scared. It is ok.
But instead of solving fear and panic with well meaning charts or shaking your head, how about we provide some tools for dealing with overwhelming emotions? Because all of life can at some point be overwhelming and we should have tools that help us instead of urge us to wage war against each other.
Here’s one – talk to someone. Not the CDC because clearly they’re still working things out and they should really be focusing on potentially infectious patients or helping U.S. hospitals with protocols.
Talk to a therapist/psychologist/general practitioner/pediatrician/Ob gyn/medical professional.
Don’t have any of the above? Talk to a co-worker, family member or friend. Preferably speak to someone that won’t add fuel to the fire. Someone that won’t throw charts, numbers, their own fears or frustrations at you but will help you work through your fear to a less overwhelmed state of emotions.
Here’s another one – work through the following steps.
- Acknowledge you fear, say it out loud if you need to – “I am afraid of the Ebola virus/people’s reactions to the Ebola virus (fill in the blank)”
Tell yourself what fear does – “being this afraid doesn’t help me feel good. It actually paralyzes me from living life/making goods decisions/forces me to spend too much time on social media/makes me angry or frustrated.
Tell yourself some facts. Very simple facts. “I have cleaned my house thoroughly. I’m really good at washing my hands non stop. I ate a healthy breakfast this morning.” Or “I am well informed on Ebola facts and figures.”
Pause. Wait for a small feeling of comfort to arise. Keep repeating 3 and 4 or start from step 1 until you feel better.
Now that you are feeling better and a calm feeling has taken over think about how you can take action.
– don’t tell others how to feel but help them with above steps if they are emotionally overwhelmed so that they too might experience calm rather than fear and panic.
- hug your family and be thankful for anything at all
donate money or start a fundraising campaign to help cure infectious diseases
enjoy the weather
clean your house
clean your friends house
Be a force for good people. Fear is ok. Frustration is ok. It’s what you do with those emotions that matter.