How to Frame the Coronavirus

At the individual level, you have many options for how to frame the coronavirus situation.

You could continue to see it as some meaningless objective event, remaining detached from assigning any meaning to it. It just is. A virus is simply doing what a virus does. And people are reacting to it as people do. It has no special personal meaning for you.

Or you could see it as some kind of spiritual sign with a very personal meaning for you.

Or you could see it as a subjective reality event within your simulation, in which case it could have personal meaning as a form of communication from the simulator. Within that same context, however, it could just be a semi-random event without any personal meaning, like a disaster happening in Sim City.

You could frame this however you like and in whatever way you find interesting because the assignment of meaning is your choice. You don’t have to assign a meaning if you don’t want to.

But if you feel intuitively called to assign a personal meaning to an event like this, especially if it keeps grabbing your attention and you keep wondering about possible meanings in a spiritual or subjective sense, you can always assign a meaning.

If you’re going to assign a meaning to an unfolding event like this, how do you decide what meaning (or meanings) to assign? I’ll walk you through the process by sharing how I’d do it.

First off, let me caution you about avoiding a special kind of trap when you assign meaning in this way. Be careful to consider how your assignment of meaning will affect your overall relationship with reality. If your assignment of meaning upholds or strengthens that relationship, especially by deepening your level of trust in reality, then you have a decent assignment of meaning. If, however, your assignment of meaning degrades the level of trust you have in reality and weakens that relationship, you’re running into problem territory with the assignment of meaning, and you should reconsider the way you’re assigning meaning.

Generally speaking, when you assign meaning in such a way that sets you up for disappointment, that’s where you run into trouble. Since reality has many options for its next moves, your main risk is getting attached to the false notion that you can force reality down a certain path, such as by assuming that it can only make certain moves. If you pre-reject other viable moves that reality could actually make, you’re getting into trouble there. This includes wishful or delusional thinking regarding how your reality works. You may get to assign meaning, but the simulator still gets to decide the simulation’s moves and responses.

Let’s get a bit more specific with respect to the coronavirus situation.

We’re currently coming up on 120K reported coronavirus infections worldwide with more than 1K in the USA. Viruses don’t propagate linearly, so these numbers will probably increase rapidly from there, especially if major countermeasures aren’t taken. Many countries (including the USA) are severely under-testing right now, so it’s possible that within a relatively short period of time (weeks maybe), we could be in the millions of infections, if we aren’t already there now and just haven’t detected them.

Since infected people can be asymptomatic and infectious for many days, many people are now getting infected each day but won’t realize it for a while still. They’ll start showing symptoms in the days and weeks ahead.

The death rate of the virus is still being figured out, but presently it seems to be in the ballpark of 3.5%. And of course we know this factor depends heavily on age and overall health. Nevertheless, it’s significantly more deadly than the flu for those infected. It just hasn’t had a chance to propagate as widely as the flu yet, but it’s spreading rapidly. For instance, the reported cases in Italy have doubled in the past three days (from 5K to 10K people). And the entire country of Italy is now under quarantine measures, including the closures of all museums and major travel restrictions.

Based on what we’re seeing in other parts of the world, it’s reasonable to expect this virus is likely to spread rapidly and extensively in the USA, especially since the country seems woefully unprepared for it, and the lack of leadership from the top is currently egregious, so that’s likely to give the virus a lot more free reign to propagate largely unchecked. The virus isn’t going to care about politics, and it’s unlikely to reward wishful thinking or denial. It will simply behave as a virus does. It will continue to infect people at a significantly faster than linear rate, and so more people will die from it.

It’s much too late to contain it at this point, so it’s just a matter of time before it infects a considerable percentage of people on earth. A vaccine won’t likely be possible till next year.

We can also predict that more events and public gatherings are going to be canceled. More schools will close or shift to online classes. More companies will tell their employees to work from home. The increasing infection rate will fuel that response. As reported infections rise, the level of response will increase. People will take this more and more seriously in the weeks ahead, and there will be less room for denial or wishful thinking.

Some countries will be much better at responding to outbreaks with massive testing and quarantining. South Korea seems to be a good example that’s bending the curve downward, so new infections are increasing at a slower rate than before.

Based on the reactions and responses I’m seeing the USA, especially in terms of a serious lack of leadership, I think this country is likely to be harder hit than most Western nations.

I’d have to also predict that some people I know will be infected by the virus within the next several weeks or months, and I’d have to predict that some aren’t going to survive. I think that some people I know personally will die as a result of this virus, this year. I think it’s very likely (much more likely than a coin toss) that this will happen based on what I’m seeing.

There’s a good chance that I’ll get infected too, perhaps even sometime this year, especially since I live in Las Vegas, which is a major international hub of travel and tourism. If so, I’ll likely survive since my health is good. I live close to a hospital as well, but there’s a good chance it could be overwhelmed resource-wise.

I predict that the local Vegas economy will be hit hard though. All the people who work for the hotels and casinos here can’t simply work from home. Local resources will be strained.

I don’t predict major personal difficulties for me compared to some (assuming that I survive) since I have plenty of savings to coast for quite a while, my business isn’t tied to the local economy, and I already know from past experience that I can go as long as 40 days with no food and still function okay.

Now meaning-wise I think what’s likely to happen here is that the USA (and many other parts of the world) are heading towards a rude awakening. This virus isn’t going to respect an ignorant yet hopeful response. And it doesn’t care about the economy either. So I suspect that reality is essentially going to punish the kind of behavior I’m seeing in the USA a lot, especially the completely inept non-leadership.

Consequently, the meaning I assign to this event is basically that it’s a reminder to stay in alignment with truth, especially when it comes to leadership. Trying to lead by self-interest, reputation, or wishful thinking is inadequate for a situation like this, and I think this reality is in the process of sharing a potent demonstration of just how inadequate that type of response is.

I think that ultimately this will be a good and important lesson, especially for my home country. Many people will pay the price of ignorance with their lives unfortunately, but we’ve gone so far off track from the truth in recent years that I’d say reality is providing a much needed form of chiropractic adjustment to get back into alignment with truth.

Now if that’s the external meaning that I’d assign, I also think about what this event means on a more personal level. If reality is teaching the world (and especially my country) the importance of getting back into alignment with truth, then I can also apply that sort of lesson personally. I can look at my life and consider where I may have been wallowing in ignorance, avoiding problems, or doing other forms of truth denial.

That’s actually something I’ve been working on for much of this year already, although I’ve been thinking of it more in terms of rebalancing my life. I’ve been noticing where my life has been out of balance and bringing it into better balance, and I’ve been making very nice progress with that, but I still have further to go. So I see these unfolding events as a good reminder to look at certain issues from the angle of truth alignment. That could reveal other possible approaches and solutions that I haven’t considered as carefully.

I’ve also been thinking a lot about leadership lately and what it means to me. So this is also a good reminder that leadership needs to be grounded in truth.

The basic idea here is that you figure out what you think the coronavirus means for the world around you. What is its purpose at that level? Then when you think you have a decent answer, you apply the same type of lesson but much closer to home. You generalize it first, and then you make it personal.

Note that you have multiple options for assigning meaning of course. So you may need to play around on the action side to see which assignments resonate with you best. Usually when you begin taking action in alignment with a meaning that improves and strengthens your relationship with reality, you’ll feel the potency of that meaning pretty quickly, and you may see some validation from reality as well that you’re heading in a pretty solid direction. If instead it feels like your relationship with reality is going downhill, then back up and try assigning a different meaning.

And beyond this, note that your assignment of meaning may shift over time too. Each day is a fresh one, and you can change up the meaning as you go. For instance, with the coronavirus you could also go down paths to assign meanings regarding love and/or power, not just truth, especially if the virus begins to affect you or people you know in much more personal ways. I’m mainly thinking about the truth corner so far because my relationship with this part of reality has more to do with data and stats than a close-to-home personal impact, but of course that’s likely to change in the weeks ahead, in which case I’ll also revisit the meanings that I’m assigning.

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Read How to Frame the Coronavirus by Steve Pavlina

Steve Pavlina

Steve Pavlina is an American self-help author, motivational speaker and entrepreneur. He is the author of the web site and the book Personal Development for Smart People.

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