Fear is an interesting phenomenon. In this blog, I will be focusing on the fear aspect of the issue rather than the economic analysis of the current scenario pertaining to job losses.
Fear and anxiety can be used interchangeably in this context. We get anxious when we are faced with uncertainties and the threat of loss. Actual loss leads to depression.
Let us consider anxiety/fear, to begin with, and understand the nature of it.
We all have an inbuilt fight or flight response, which gets activated when we are faced with unknowns. The body releases hormones, which activate typical physical responses like our heartbeat gets faster, we feel tense in the muscles, etc. The whole system of fight and flight response has developed in our bodies over millions of years as a part of our survival strategy. The difficulty is when our fear response is inappropriate both in terms of severity and duration.
Here is a case example-
Ram is an IT manager who has been working in a startup for the last 4 years, he is the father of a 6yrs old daughter and is married to Rukmini, who is a housewife. Since lockdown, he has been working from home and was delivering on what is expected of him and more. Recently he has learned that the company’s major customer from the US is canceling their contract due to the uncertainty in relation to COVID situation. If this is confirmed there is a very strong likelihood of the company folding up and Ram and his colleagues, who are 40 in number are going to lose their jobs. This has led to a great deal of fear amongst them.
Ram has taken the news very negatively; he has been suffering from panic attacks on a regular basis. He is unable to concentrate on his work and has not been sleeping and eating well. He is obsessed with the COVID situation and is constantly browsing on his phone gathering news. He has made the whole situation at home unbearable for his family. He started catastrophizing the future scenarios and is continuously working himself to a frenzy.
Shyam, his colleague, is more or less in the same situation, has taken the developments in his stride and has realistically appraised the current scenario.
He is focusing more on today and doing his best to support his manager and his family members. He is accepting of the fact that the situation is difficult and they will have to ride the storm together to ensure the best possible outcome for all.
The difference in these individuals is based on their personality profiles and life experiences. Shyam instinctively understands that there is no point adding fuel to fire albeit acknowledging that there is fire.
There is no point in fretting over the inevitable. Considering the above case examples, Ram is compounding his misery by reacting to the situation in an unhelpful way. The take-home point is to become aware of our anxiety-based response to any given situation and try and minimize it.
These are extraordinary circumstances; our best-laid plans are out of the window. Maybe there are going to be very important life lessons for all of us by the time this whole thing blows over. One thing is for certain that excessive fear and anxiety will not help matters.
In these tough times, all of us including the government, corporations, employers, employees, etc. have to come together, support each other, and see this storm through.
Whilst writing this article there is a song that has been playing in a loop in my head-
"Que sera, sera
Whatever will be, will be
The future's not ours to see
Que sera, sera
What will be, will be"
I wish we can all embody the spirit of this song by Doris Day and wait for a brighter tomorrow.