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What we can gain from this crisis

Even if the crisis is not over – we can already learn a lot from the past few weeks.

The summer in Berlin and in the rest of Germany has made the spectre of the “Coronavirus” fade significantly for some. Many of us feel the desire to return to normality as far as possible and to deal less with the “big C” in our thoughts. Politicians have also reacted to the current low level of infections and have largely lifted restrictions on contact, while social distance rules and mandatory use of masks continue to apply in many public buildings, public transport and supermarkets. Indications of “lower risk of infection outdoors” and seasonal effects give hope. At the same time, scientists such as Christian Drosten in the “Coronavirus Update” warn to stay cautious: whether there will be a second wave in autumn is “in our hands”. The topic will therefore continue to keep us busy and the threat will also remain omnipresent, even if we are more or less successful in suppressing it.

Now since, at least in Germany, there is currently a relatively low incidence of infections, I think it is an appropriate moment to look back. An inner confrontation with the crisis has long since begun, probably accompanying us since the beginning of this strange phase, which has influenced us all together and yet again so differently.

What has this crisis done to us? What do we maybe have gained and still gain from it?

Relationships – the core of our life

We have all experienced the contact restrictions and the handling of fears and loneliness very differently. Some have only just become aware of their feelings of loneliness, others may have taken shelter in their relationship with their partner, driven by the desire to seek protection in the familiar. Many families have experienced a strengthening of the relationship with their children or parents, or a growing of the relationship between siblings who suddenly only had each other. When things that seemed to be taken for granted in life, such as being able to move freely or taking our children to daycare or school, are gone, it becomes clearer what is important to us and what we really need: Contact with others, closeness and protection are basic needs and at all times essential for our survival or for our well-being and mental health. In relationships we recognize ourselves by recognizing the other. We learn from each other as children learn from their parents and parents learn from their children.

Loneliness – an underestimated (and unpopular) feeling

Even if it does not take a worldwide pandemic to feel lonely, the Corona crisis probably caused feelings of loneliness in many people or made them more prominent, as distractions and social contacts, such as daily contact with employees, disappeared. Some may have been alone for several days or weeks for the first time in their lives, even though being alone is not a prerequisite for feeling loneliness. Feeling lonely and as someone who does not belong shows the same neural patterns in the brain as physical pain. It is therefore clearly a strong and negative sensation and yet I dare to say that loneliness also includes opportunities. When we feel alone, we are able to be more in contact with ourselves at the same time. We may feel for the first time in a long time that we are unhappy or dissatisfied. We can explore these feelings instead of blocking them out and distracting ourselves. In this way, loneliness can offer us a way to deal with ourselves, to face ourselves.

Quick political action is possible

Most of us may have been shocked, or at least temporarily worried, by the speed at which our fundamental rights were and still are suspended during crisis, which even led some people to come up with conspiracy theories to contain the emerging fears. At the same time, the quick reaction of politicians and the close cooperation between politics and science during the crisis has shown: it works – quick action and quick resolution of conflicts is possible in politics if the pressure (by the worldwide spreading pandemic) is only high enough.

This gives hope for other, equally important but less urgent issues, such as climate change. We at DynaMind have already reported on the psychodynamic background of climate change and why a collective rethinking of our climate will be a challenge even after the crisis has passed, in a previous article (see – link “The illusion of independence, understanding climate change”).

Home office, online meetings & online learning

While in the time before Corona it was often said that Germany was struggling to move towards digitalisation – too extensive, too complex, too expensive – the restrictions on contact and the ban on meetings ensured that it was inevitably and somehow it worked: colleagues switched to home office all over the country, universities and colleges changed their curriculum to online seminars and even consultations and psychotherapy sessions were held online or by telephone. In addition, there was a boom in online training seminars, which we otherwise might never have looked into. What have we learned from this? To have flexible hours working from home was and is a blessing for some, a necessity for others because of simultaneous childcare, and at least for some it might also be a burden to “take the work home with you” while contact and direct communication within the team is eliminated. There is certainly still a lot to be said on this subject and the consequences for the job market and the educational landscape in Germany cannot be assessed at the moment, as we are still in a state of emergency and despite loosening of contact restrictions there is still a lot of remote work or work from home. The most important lesson we can learn, in my opinion, is that a lot can be done if it has to be done, and we now have the chance to decide how to deal with the experience we have gained and what changes and methods we want to retain after the crisis.

Deceleration or acceleration?

Once again a topic which people most certainly have experienced differently. Some have experienced the elimination of appointments, social obligations and travel time (to work) as an absolute relief, others have experienced it as an expansion in the amount of time they could spend on their work and as pure stress. They had difficulties separating work and leisure time, not to mention the challenge of caring for and teaching children at home. Whatever our individual experiences may have been, the changes that circumstances have forced us to make can be called a “wake-up call”: we are largely in control of how we live our lives and whether we agree with the pace at which we live them. Of course, there are social and personal obligations and responsibilities that we have to fulfil, but we can navigate within these limitations, we are at the steering wheel ourselves. If you feel that this does not apply to you most of the time and you feel more at the mercy of the waves or maybe you do not know where the journey is going, it might be helpful to arrange a free preliminary talk for a coaching at dynaMind. The best anti-stress training will have little effect if you are not yet sufficiently aware of your inner motives and desires. We at dynaMind know how to read maps and steer at the same time, while outside there is still fog.

 

Sophie Grußendorf, psychologist and coach at dynaMind