When my youngest daughter was a teenager and I tried to teach her to “take care of herself”, she told me something that I learned for life: “if you tell me that everything is dangerous in the end I won´t believe you and I won’t take care of myself at all”.
I think that worse than not giving any advice to a child is giving them many messages, most of them contradictory, or contradictory between the spoken advice and our behavior which should be the model.
We are constantly receiving advice. Much of it contradictory and in some extreme cases contradictory with the behavior we see in governmental authorities that should be role models on how to take care of ourselves from the dangers stalking us since the coronavirus appeared. This is making us more confused.
It’s not ignorance. It’s not lack of information. It’s information that comes mixed up between proven facts, personal opinions, lies spread through social networks without much control with the power of “legitimacy”, rumors transformed into assertive statements. Our “minds” end up doing what my daughter threatened would happen: we don’t believe in anything. And what is worse, we have everything, everybody and everything. We are even afraid of ourselves. We don’t know if what we feel, think and do will helps us take care of ourselves or will expose us to more danger.
What I learned at that time, and I keep trying to apply, is: when I am afraid for myself, for my loved ones, when I feel flooded by that emotion that makes my heart race, makes me sick to my stomach, takes my breath away, I stop. I try to look, first outside, to see what scared me so much and to understand how I can “rationally” protect myself from the threat. Then, I try to look inside, to see what resources (emotional, bodily, instrumental, social) I count on to choose how to protect myself, with the most “believable” information within my reach, the behavior that makes me feel safe, more protected.