How to be in a pandemic

How to be in a pandemic

Welcome. When I imagined writing my first blog post for my website, I’ll admit I pictured something very different. Alas, in these changing times and in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, it would disingenuous if I didn’t write something about what is happening in my world, and in the world around me.

I am a qualified and experienced counsellor, but yet I find myself reading the countless articles on ‘how to be’ in the pandemic. Most of these self-help articles are giving you lists and pointers on what to do to occupy your time, how to be productive, how to be safe, even how to be kind. And sure, reminders of what fresh air and exercise can do for your mental health and even to a certain degree – reminders of how to be a responsible adult like dressing for work and sticking to a routine, can be helpful. But I can’t quite shake the feeling I am being told ‘how to be’ in the middle of an unprecedented event of these times. Every fibre of my being is drawing away from such advice and here’s why – we are all different, we all react in different ways, we have all had different life experiences. I am not you and you are not me. Why then, would I give you advice? Why then would I treat your advice as the be-all and end-all?

Part of any training as a counsellor is to fully immerse yourself within the theory that you practice. I am a Person-Centred counsellor and therefore sign up to the beliefs from the founder, Carl Rogers. This theory is more than just an idea, it’s a way of being. As part of these core beliefs (See Roger’s six necessary and sufficient conditions), not only does it hold value in the counselling room but in everyday life as well. Living my life in an authentic and congruent way means that my ‘how to be’ is different to your ‘how to be’, and if I only listened to others peoples advice as if it was a ‘one size fits all’ approach then I’d be missing myself in the equation. Not only that but there is societal pressures (see Roger’s Conditions of Worth), associated with these and shame can then follow if we are not living up to the image of others. Thoughts as ‘I should do this’ or ‘I shouldn’t do that’ are always based in Conditions of Worth (I’ll talk more about COWs in future blogs!), and may create our own anxiety about how to live our lives.

So for now, I’m gonna give up reading those countless articles giving advice on ‘how to be’ in the pandemic. Instead I’m just gonna be me. You do you and I’ll do me.

Counselling for a good day