Whatever your feelings and beliefs about COVID-19, it is painfully obvious to most people that life has changed and will remain different for some time to come. With the massive changes that we’re experiencing, realigning our expectations will help us cope.
Writing off 2020 is not really going to help you emotionally. Putting your plans on hold is not the same as putting your whole life on hold, although it is easy to fall into the trap of believing otherwise. None of us expected this massive adversity, and we are learning how to deal with it as best we can, one day at a time, just bumping along. For me, staying healthy is the most important thing, but economic survival is a part of that.
Jobs, businesses and careers are going away in many areas. Even Hollywood is finding it difficult to survive, and we need entertainment now more than ever. With no live audiences, or even on-set productions, many actors, musicians, athletes, and many others are struggling to navigate the coronavirus course corrections we are all forced to make.
We all have to accept that we won’t be able to accomplish certain things for now and recognize that we may lose some traction, if not our footing, along the way. We have to change our priorities to get through this life-alternating event. That’s the whole point: getting through it.
Getting back to normal is not going to happen for a few years, and whatever the new normal is will be different from what we knew before. Yes it will take that much time to mop up the destruction that this disease has done to our country and our world. And some of the changes in how we work and play will never return to what they were. This is why adjusting our expectations is so important to peace of mind.
For example, I know that my on-set therapy practice will never come back, not in my working years. I clearly see that as reality, and while I can continue to consult, it will all be done remotely. The biggest loss is not the money but the people. Being on a set is where you make magic happen, and that’s because of creative minds are all working together in the same space. I know can’t take part in that any longer, and so have to adjust my expectations accordingly as well as deal with some disappointment.
One of the expectations we all have to adjust to is how we socially interact. Many families who are home schooling are doing it as family pods; several families share the teaching duties, and the kids get to socialize, but in a small groups. This way, everyone’s health can be monitored, and life can go on a little more normally for the most important ones, our kids.
Pods are also a good way to socialize as adults. When small groups agree to hang out and work together, it can create a positive extended-family atmosphere. Yes, the logistics may be complicated, especially at the start, but it can work if everyone follows the health guidelines and group rules. Who knows? Maybe communes will come back as a way of life for some of us.
If you can make your life comfortable and have human interaction, you are in far better shape than many people in this world. By adjusting your expectations to fit the current situation, you can create an acceptable life and find a great deal of contentment in that.
(Dr. Barton Goldsmith, a psychotherapist in Westlake Village, Calif., is the author of “The Happy Couple: How to Make Happiness a Habit One Little Loving Thing at a Time.” Follow his daily insights on Twitter at @BartonGoldsmith
©2020 Barton Goldsmith