For July and August, I am taking a break from writing a blog. I am…
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued new guidelines stating fully vaccinated Americans can stop wearing masks, in most situations. What about the multitude who are not vaccinated? Trust is in short supply these days in the midst of continuing Covid-19 cases, as the pandemic has caused severe mistrust, anxiety, isolation, and vaccination resistance. There is a flood of new information on variants, along with worldwide vaccine shortages that stoke the flames of continued threats. Add in the catastrophic dynamics of the have’s and have-not’s, racial differences in vaccination rates—and, of course, the politicization that creates severe polarization between parties; all these factors have undermined people’s ability to trust which would enable a greater capacity to work together in a time of crisis and tragedy.
We have endured so much this past year. The idea of “opening up”, relaxing mask-wearing, going out-and-about to restaurants, theaters, museums, seeing friends, hugging, and more, is both heartwarming yet anxiety-provoking. How far can we go? What is safe? For over a year we have watched others die; friends and family we know and loved succumbed to Covid-19. We have been in a constant state of terror: what did we touch, how did we contaminate? The best advice for over a year was to lock down. Now, the doors are suddenly wide-open and many feel overwhelmed. We have been through too much to feel safe.
A bakery once asked everyone to please wear a mask; it is now without guidance and left out in the cold. “We used to have a sign on our door that said you can’t come in unless you’re masked, and now I don’t know what my sign should say: ‘If you are not vaccinated, please wear a mask?’” (Bosman, Mervosh, 2021)
“Fewer than half of Americans over the age of 18 are fully vaccinated.” (Bosman, Mervosh, 2021) The Honor Code mentality demands trust in government, which is severely eroded. Conspiracy theories abound in sectors of the population. The reality of the virus is questioned, and skepticism, cynicism, and paranoia have become normal mindsets.
The world is not safe so how can we feel safe?
Concept of Armoring Applied to Life
This leads us to the concept of armoring, which is just like it sounds, the adoption of a turtle-shell mentality both mentally and physically, to protect oneself against known and unknown threats. It is a suit of armor insulating us from attack.
We lack openness as our energy does not flow through our mind-body in an open-hearted way. Instead, we habitually protect ourselves, creating distance from others. We become skeptical and cynical, and no longer trust; habits of defense in times of stress. These styles of coping create defensive layers that we are unable to shed. They become intrinsic to how we think, act, and behave. The turtle-shell, the armored style, is the way we are.
We need to become conscious of how we are, act, and behave. What is our unique style that has grown like a second skin and covered our capacity to develop a true, authentic self?
How do we take down our shields when we have lived through a trauma that has impacted us deeply for over a year? First, we must realize we have endured collective trauma and must respect that we are still off-balance. Life is not normal yet. We must honor our reticence; we can’t push ourselves faster than we are ready (Modafinil). We can work to relax within, feel well-being slowly, carefully, without too many expectations, until we gradually reemerge as we see fit.
Let’s develop compassion for the lives lost, the hurt and pain of so many; allow our grief to flow. We have been through trauma this past year and trust that we will evolve as we are ready. Once we take our armor off…
We can then embrace the warmth of friends, travel, dining out, and relish the freedom that has been hard-won.
Bosman, Julie, Mervosh, Sarah. “New Honor System on Masks: Am I to Trust These People?”. New York Times. 2021, May 18.