How much longer?
How much longer? Is the question running through so many minds. How much longer do I have to endure being in quarantine? How much longer do my kids have to stay away from their friends? How much longer do I have to keep my business closed?
If we could count down towards the end of quarantine, it is more likely we would feel less frustrated, less aggravated, and more hopeful. What is the difference between knowing an end date and not?
The same exact experience can be seen with very different eyes simply by having more clarity about the end. An example that might help clarify this idea is as follows: If you are at the end of an exercise class, if you have been doing 15 push-ups and you do not know how many push-ups you have left you might quit, but if the instructor tells you you only have 3 more, you are more likely to be able to pull through. However, in both these experiences you were up to 15 push-ups, in one you were able to finish all the way, and in the other you were not.
Why is perspective such a game-changer when the situation is exactly the same? The brain and the way we view things is so strong that it can change our moods and even our behaviors. Knowing that you only have 3 push-ups left helps you get the strength to finish the workout. The brain is so powerful that when it feels danger it actually pumps adrenaline and gives you the strength and ability to do things your body would normally not be able to. On the same token, if the brain misinterprets a comment a friend said it could make you insecure, withdrawn, or angry which in effect can cause you to act in unsensible ways. If you are feeling hopeless and frustrated by the current situation it can affect the way you act and even affect the relationships in your life.
Perspective plays a very important role in how we acclimate to new situations. However, what if it was the other way around. If the situation was reversed and we would not want this situation to end, we were holding on to something that we never knew if we would get back? If we knew that in two days it would all be over, what are the things you would miss? Are there things you would hold on to? Would you begin to feel nostalgic or upset about losing this time? Will the world ever stop again to keep you and your loved ones home? Thinking about it in this perspective may enable you to think differently and act differently.
Knowing how powerful our mind is and how strong it can be can enable us to use the strength of our brain to our advantage, to control it and not let it control us so that we have the strength necessary to get through these hard times.
We are living in very extreme and difficult situations. It is normal to feel overwhelmed and frustrated. It is even more difficult when there is no end in sight. Looking at the strength of perspective and the way the brain can give us the strength to do things we never thought possible, perhaps we can use it to change the way we see quarantine to find some healing.