Change, Punctuated Equilibrium and The New Normal
When do you think the US will get back to normal after the Coronavirus pandemic? What’s your reasoning?
I certainly understand and empathize with your concerns and desire for some stability. I have had this conversation with a number of my psychotherapy clients in the US in the past week. My answer is the same to everyone.
There is no longer a ‘back to normal’. This pandemic is one of those events that causes a shift in mindset and in the lives of the general population in the US and around the world. We are just witnessing the very beginning of this change. Within a few months there will be a new normal and a year from now another new normal. We are in a period of rapid change. In evolutionary biology this has been dubbed, by Professor Stephen Jay Gould, Punctuated equilibrium. Humanity is being forced to evolve extremely quickly by this pandemic. It is a situation outside of our control.
The attack on the World Trade Center on 9/11 was also one of those events, especially for the US. Now people just accept, as normal, that they must go through long security lines at airports and that they cannot bring knives on airplanes any longer. This is the new normal.
The coping mechanisms that humanity adopts to deal with this pandemic will have long lasting effects. Both the positive and negative mechanisms will be with us for a very long time. They will become the new normal.
Right now most people do not want things to change. They are used to the status quo and are afraid of a new normal that they do not know or understand. But in this situation we do not have the control we want to have. Those who are able to adapt and flow with change will be those who thrive in this new reality. Those who are not able to change will struggle and suffer. I know that you understand this. I just wrote and posted an article about how to cope and thrive with the changes that this pandemic forces upon us. You are most welcome to read it. Maybe there will be some helpful insights for you.
My suggestion is to learn how to rise above the miasma of fear, panic, anger and the other emotions that can distract us. Self-awareness is the most powerful tool you have at your disposal. Practice being mindful at all times and learn to relax even in the most stressful situations. Change and evolution are unavoidable and inevitable but there is an essence of you that never changes and is always unaffected by anything that occurs in life. Find that essence and access it as often as possible. That will get you through this evolutionary shift and help you thrive for your own benefit and for the benefit of your family and your community. I have posted many articles about this and practices for accomplishing this self-awareness at my blog. You are most welcome to read more there.
Our political and social realities in the US have changed tremendously in the past 20 years and especially in the past 3 years. We have accepted as ‘normal’ a president who is a pathological, sociopathic, narcissistic liar who is completely incompetent at the job and a criminal. We have accepted as the new normal a large minority of Americans who enjoy this behavior and even support it and want more of it. Will we ever return to what we used to consider normal? Probably not.
Normal changes for all of us. I used to live in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains near Denver. Normal was getting up each morning and seeing the mountains, the deer and elk, hiking, skiing and going to Costco once a week. Then I moved to Europe full time and now I live in Riga, Latvia and in a small village in Italy. My life in these places is now my normal. It is the same for you and for everyone else that experiences change. But now a major shift is occurring worldwide and it is not due to some choice that you or I make. It is beyond our control But we do have choices about how we react to these events now and in the future.
Every day is new. That new day is now the new normal. There is no going back.
I hope this answer is helpful.
Take good care.