Uncertainty and 2022
Covid is making gamblers of us all
‘I hate the uncertainty of Covid. I’m a control freak and I can’t plan’. That’s what the man said to me as he stood at the threshold of a New Year.
And indeed none of us know what Omicron, the latest face of the pandemic, is going to mean for us over the coming months. We make bookings in the full knowledge that they’re quite possibly going to have to be cancelled. And when we finally get to grips with Omicron will there be another variant waiting to take its place? We don’t know. And if there is, will it be more dangerous? We don’t know.
All the uncertainty increases our sense of vulnerability. We’re exposed to forces of nature coming at us from unexpected angles with the constant threat that they will make us ill and disrupt our lives all over again.
The cost of constantly adapting
We’re also having to make new types of decisions because past ways of doing things no longer apply. That’s tiring, even exhausting over a protracted period of time. It’s particularly true in our jobs. We’re having to work a lot harder, constantly adapting just to keep things on an even keel.
On top of all this, Covid has made gamblers of us all. We’re not sure whether to go to a restaurant, a pub, a party, the cinema, the theatre, the airport. Shall we take the risk or not?
Some people gamble very big. They don’t get vaccinated at all. There may be five million of them in this country, perhaps fifty million in the US. In that country arguments and logic are almost pointless with many anti-vaxxers because facts don’t matter. Even rampant death doesn’t change people’s minds. The gambling is amplified if governments are tempted to abdicate their responsibility for taking hard decisions and devolve that responsibility onto individuals or if politicians pit themselves against scientists.
Would our ancestors have done better?
Strangely, our ancestors may have been better placed to live with Covid than we are. Even though they had little medical protection against illnesses like the plague, smallpox, the sweating sickness and the quartan ague, they may have had a tad more psychological protection because those diseases were frequent. And that’s not taking into account raging infant mortality and a life expectancy of forty for the lucky ones.
A place of safety
As I write this, we’re faced with a third year of Covid uncertainty, a third year of increased anxiety – an anxiety which has led many to enquire about psychotherapy.
In my work as a therapist specializing in small groups of up to eight people, I’ve seen the value that individuals place on the group that they’re in. In an environment that’s not dependable any more their therapy group is dependable. It’s a fixed point, a place they can rely on to meet every week with people who know them very well indeed. It’s a setting in which they can talk absolutely freely about anything, including the effect of the pandemic on them. They can get valuable feedback and hear others who are struggling with their own uncertainties. The group is a place of similarity and difference which brings support and also new ways of thinking about things. It’s a place of safety and genuine caring.
That's not unimportant in a world which can seem to have gone mad.
© Brian Shand 2022