Kenyans, COVID-19 effects are making us angry about everything

If you take a walk through the various social media platforms you will realize the toll at which life and in particular COVID-19 has taken on individual lives. I can only imagine what households are going through. We are seeing a rise in domestic violence, missing children, misbehaving children, teenage pregnancies, unemployment etc. This is a lot to take in at times even if it doesn’t affect you directly especially when all you see around you is despair. Left unchecked results in being angry just at anything or anyone.  @mqhlay said it better in the tweet below.

While all this manifests we need to be extra careful on where this unaddressed anger can lead to. You saw or heard of the recent “Black Lives Matter” demonstration in the United States of America that saw thousands of citizens go to the streets to have their frustrations heard. Of course, this also led to looting, more deaths and damage to property. Was that the intention or a good thing turned an opportunity for evil? Was this several years of anger turned despair?

Feeling angry during such times is very common. So, if you are in that state then you are not alone. Healing starts with acceptance of the environment you are in and the state of your emotions. During these times we are looking for who to blame. Am sure top of mind is your government for not stocking enough PPEs and testing kits, or the politicians that have a party amidst everything that is going on, or the Chinese for “creating the virus” or even your wife for adding extra salt to the food one evening. We are looking for someone to blame. That’s why you go to social media and insult that reality TV show host, or get angry as to why someone bought a new car during this time instead of feeding the poor or why “Wanjohi” is not reopening the economy yet you have bills to pay.

This anger, however, is not fully irrational as it’s a coping strategy. It is your mental state refusing to accept what is happening. The feeling of losing a job or business is only bearable if I can be angry at the institution/authority I feel is responsible for that situation. This can often result in low mood, anxiety, feeling overwhelmed and not to forget what we are focussing on, anger and frustration. This anger is good for the short time as it sometimes numbs the pain of what you are going through. It is like what alcohol does to someone. It gives you a high that at that moment helps you forget the problems you have but when it's all done the flood gates of emotions and reality come back two-fold. In the long run, this type of escapism becomes self-destructive. When you now combine this anger with fear as is the case during this pandemic, it turns into despair and desperation.

There is a lot of reasons why an individual could end up here. Before Corona (BC) it could be that many of us were already in some crisis of sort and now combine it with the pandemic we are pushed to a corner. It could also be the lack of spiritual support during this time with the closure of churches, mosques, synagogues etc.  that provided that much needed moral compass. Despair can affect anyone even if you have a family and friends. In the face of death, we are all alone.

God grant me the Serenity to accept the things I cannot change, The courage to change the things I can, and The wisdom to know the difference.

Serenity Prayer

First, we have to accept where we are at because that’s the only way we can then move forward in realising change and using this feeling to better ourselves.  At such times we respond differently to change. Others will adapt quickly while others might take some time to accept the reality that dawns on them. Whatever the pace there is always a way out. There is no problem that is too big for us not to solve. Am always comforted by the Bible Verse 1 Corinthians 10:13 “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it. “.

Second, is to exercise detachment. Detachment is one of the most valuable techniques available to stop yourself from taking the behaviour of others personally. Simply put, detachment means separating yourself emotionally from what other people do. Learning to detach often begins by learning to take a moment before reacting to another person’s behaviour. At that moment you can ask yourself, “Is this behaviour coming from the person or the disease?” This distinction makes you better able to emotionally distance yourself from the other person’s actions. By seeing the person as separate from the disease, by detaching, you can stop being hurt by groundless insults or angered by outrageous lies. If you can learn to step back from this person, just as you would from the sneezing of a person with a cold, you will no longer have to take those effects to heart.

Third, some daily tips can work for you if intentionally practised: i) be gentle on yourself ii) get enough rest or sleep iii) focus on what you can change iv) develop and stick to a routine v) get some exercise vi) talk to someone about how you feel.

In conclusion, anger is something dangerous and left unchecked can lead to despair which is destructive to oneself. In moments like this, you have to lean on something or someone to give you hope and focus on things that you can change. The Serenity Prayer has always been my anchor “ God grant me the Serenity to accept the things I cannot change, The courage to change the things I can, and The wisdom to know the difference. “

Photo by Marco Jimenez on Unsplash

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