Angry or Scared? The "emotional war" of the COVID-19 pandemic
Dedicated to D.
With your support, encouragement and love
I could become myself,
The COVID-19 pandemic has an emotional impact on many aspects of our life. If you find yourself to be overly concerned about health, it is possible that the pandemic provokes mostly one emotion in you: fear. This fear can then develop into anxiety, stress, insecurity and paranoia. If your main concern is about new rules and restrictions, you might feel constricted and, as a result of that, develop anger, frustration or even depression.
By identifying mainly with fear or anger, you might end up in one of the two “armies” fighting a sort of emotional war on social media and in society: Scared people vs Angry people. Why do we experience these emotions in such an intense way to the point that we fight with each other? What is a better way to deal with this?
Scared people vs angry people
The scared people are those who are trying to avoid the fear of getting sick, by obsessively protecting themselves from being infected with the virus and by holding on to the restrictions. They communicate stress, insecurity and anxiety. They are also “secretly” angry at the angry people when they don’t respect and criticise the new rules because it makes them come closer to their deepest fear.
The angry people are those who are trying to avoid feeling constricted and not free, by rebelling against the new rules and criticising their validity in preventing the virus to spread. They communicate frustration, anger and complaints. They are “secretly” afraid of the scared people when they blindly obey the new rules because it makes them come closer to their deepest feelings.
What are both teams really hiding behind their behaviour?
If fear became very present in your daily life during this time, it means that you were already scared before COVID-19 appeared in the world. If you investigate deeply, you will come to the conclusion that this situation is exposing deep insecurity in you, which is the fear to get sick and die.
To acknowledge this fear is very difficult because it brings you in direct contact with your own mortality and therefore forces you to deal with how you have lived and are living your life. The fear of death hides the fear of life.
The function of the fear of death and sickness
When your true and important needs and desires are mostly not met, negative emotions come into being and the fear of death and sickness increases to the point to create anxiety. As a result of that, there is the tendency to bury this fear and the negative emotions inwardly, but one pays a price for it: a big loss of aliveness and an increase of insecurity and numbness.
If you turn it around and use this global crisis as an opportunity to fully embrace the emerging fear and the other emotions, you will feel alive again in your body and mind. It will be like turning on a light bulb: “Oh my God! Death is my inevitable destiny!” Or, in other words: “I am alive!”
These powerful emotions can then be used as a tool to become aware of what is still unsolved in your past and of your unfulfilled needs in order to make peace with the first and fulfil the latter:
- Why do I feel so scared and insecure? Am I still carrying something from my past that I need to look at?
- Am I really happy with myself and my life? If not, what do I miss or want to change?
- What is it that truly matters to me in life? Do I value it or neglect it?
If the present situation provokes constant anger, frustration, unhappiness or sadness, because you feel constricted and not free, it means that you were already feeling like this. I don’t mean to underestimate the impact of these new regulations on our lives, but, at the same time, if you are struggling with these emotions and they are getting chronic, it means that you are probably using the present situation as a way to try to discharge them.
These emotions usually reveal the presence of a deeper sense of impotence in yourself, which might come from personal experiences of having being overpowered by others in the past, and / or by traumatic events like incidents, injustice, natural disasters, etc.
We often project our unfulfilled dreams, unsolved past and frustrations on big mirrors like “the world”, “life”, “others” or “COVID-19”, which are just reflecting them back to ourselves.
The function of feeling constricted and impotent
Opening yourself up to your own inner feelings of impotence and constriction, without projecting them away from yourself and indulging in anger, reveals your real power: To include these sensitive emotions in yourself and accept life as it is. In fact, what makes these feelings continue to be hurtful is the war against them:
- Are all these restrictions really my enemy? Or are they how I paint them?
- Do I recognise intense or chronic anger in my past or in other areas of my life? If yes, when?
- Do I also recognise an intense or chronic sense of impotence and constriction in myself? If yes, when?
The effects of embodying your emotions
Practising embodying these powerful emotions and becoming more aware of your unsolved issues will have a positive effect on yourself:
If you belong to the scared ones, you will feel more alive and aware of what you truly want and feel. It doesn’t mean that you will stop caring about not getting sick or doing your best to preserve your life and that of others but you will simply feel less stressed, obsessed and conditioned by the whole situation of COVID-19.
If you belong to the angry ones, you will feel less constricted and angry and much more free and peaceful. And, even if you will keep disliking the regulations and find them wrong, you will not be bothered so much by them to the point of obsession - they are what they are.
A Zen master once said: “If all the world is at war and you are at peace, does the war exist for you?”
Emotions and social unity
In order to reduce the emotional impact of COVID-19 on a large scale, we first need to understand that the collective mind is just the sum of the individual ones. As a result of that, we need to turn our attention within and face what this challenge triggers in each one of us individually. Therapy, creativity, introspection and meditation are some of the tools that you can use and explore to understand what works better for you.
The inward approach is the prerequisite to facing this crisis with all its medical, social, economical and political aspects as one humanity. In fact, can we really hope to come out of this situation if we are in a continuous emotional war within ourselves and, as a result, socially extremely divided?
“When the individual is in conflict within himself he must inevitably create conflict without, and only he can bring about peace within himself and so in the world, for he is the world.”
~ J. Krishnamurti