Thoughts on a solution-focused response to Covid-19

What’s a solution-focused response to Covid-19? I’ve been asked this question a number of times recently and here are some thoughts.  Though please know that they are just thoughts, not intended as a neat answer, an oversimplification or trivialisation of this big challenge. And, as ever, you are the expert in your life, job, role etc… – you’ll know best how to be at your best in this crisis. So:

  • First, let’s acknowledge the problem, and the size of it: this touches most of us – loss of loved ones, loss of work, loss of purpose, loss of security, a personal sense of threat, and fear of the unknown.
  • And, thinking global social justice: its impact is likely to be greatest in poorer countries with less infrastructure, and in more unequal countries (such as the USA – and, in some different ways, the UK too), with huge differentials in health and access to healthcare systems.
  • Then, let’s recognise and value the role of the scientists who are investigating the problem and trialling solutions – a reminder that in some fields, paying attention to the problem is essential.
  • And then, during lockdown, let’s focus on our future: let’s build a rich picture of how we hope and intend our lives will be when we emerge into a post-Covid-19 world (or at least post-lockdown). Recall the solution-focused idea that, the richer the picture of that future, the more we can sense ourselves there already; and that can help to maintain the motive energy to take us in that direction.
  • We may think we can’t do it – these are unprecedented challenges. But any of us can identify occasions when we’ve surprised ourselves in how we’ve coped with unwanted, very difficult situations. What clues can we find in these instances, when we pay them really careful attention? Let’s engage with the qualities and abilities – the resources and resourcefulness – we have but which we may not notice.
  • How do we maintain a sense of purpose and meaning? The more individuals and families can recognise that the sacrifice of their freedom of movement & choice is a direct contribution to a collective effort to protect the well-being of all, the better we’ll be able to sustain those sacrifices.
  • And the more we can find meaningful activity within the confines of our homes, the better we’ll last. And, given that our primary need is connection and relationship, this is the time to help everyone in lockdown to explore and build their options for communicating virtually: phones are familiar to all, and even smartphones now have wide reach, but I wonder how many more people will, by the end of this, be connecting by Skype, Zoom, Facetime, Whatsapp etc.

For those who are continuing to work, your roles are essential, and you deserve the respect and recognition you’re getting for your efforts. I hope that one or two of the thoughts above may be helpful to you in your practice as you get alongside people some of whom will be quite distressed.

Finally, a reflection: it’s tough when our routine is disrupted – but how good was our routine? When we want to make changes in our lives, it tends still to be hard to break established habits.

So, now that many of our habits have been forcibly broken – for good reason – this can be an opportunity for us, individually and as a society, to reconsider our norms and see if there might be better ways to live. I’m thinking, just for example, of travel, consumption and work.

Marc Gardiner