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Gaining Momentum

This photo is of the cover of a recent publication put out by the LA Sheriff's Relief Association and is titled, "A tough Spring for everyone." The situation here seemed so perfect for the situation we all are facing with the Stay At Home orders. The children are forced to sit next to a big scary bunny and they are crying hysterically. They don't want to be there yet someone else is making them. Many people have been feeling this way lately and it's beginning to wear on us.

Researchers are actually watching us to see how we will react. On a smaller scale, researchers watched individuals who were incarcerated (jail) or families imprisoned against their wills (Nazi Germany) to see what patterns of behavior emerged. We are beginning to see the same patterns emerging today.

In the beginning everyone thought they were getting a paid vacation when they were furloughed with pay and they happily stayed home. Then the challenge of being home with their children who still needed to do school work frustrated parents and children alike. Then the pattern became common, the tension became less, and we settled into a routine. Complacency began to set in as new norms took root. We accepted the limitations to life, the lack of choice, and began to wait for the order to be lifted.

We were told it would be lifted by Easter, then by April 30. Then May 15, and now we have no idea how long this will go on because the reports say, "Until further notice." We thought there was a light at the end of the tunnel, but the tunnel keeps getting longer and longer. This uncertainty causes confusion, frustration, and irritation is beginning to show. People are becoming angry as they want to get back to work and stop the economic shut down. Many are no longer concerned about Covid-19 as they focus on food shortages, permanent unemployment, and destabilization of their income that could lead some to homelessness. Like racehorses in the gate before a race, they are antsy, energized, and ready to run when the gate opens. But, if the gate doesn't open, they begin to lose momentum and give up hope the race will ever be run.

Recently, I heard two perspectives on what we should do about this situation of lost momentum. One mental health professional said it is unadvisable to try to encourage someone in this state of mind. She said any encouragement would seem patronizing and could have the opposite effect. Another person, a young man who had just overcame the effects of the Corona-Virus said it was encouragement that helped him have hope of recovery. I agree with the second opinion: We need encouragement in times of difficulty. The more encouragement we have, the more hope we have. They go hand-in-hand. When there is no encouragement, there is no hope and we can fall into despair.

During the 1890s, Russian physiologist, Ivan Pavlov did studies with dogs that later became known as "Classical Conditioning." Most people know about the experiment where he rang a bell every time it was meal time and the dog would salivate. After a while when he rang the bell the dog would salivate even when no food was offered. But few people know of the torturous experiment where he put a dog in a metal cage and hooked a battery up to it. He would increase and decrease the electrical shock to see what the dog's response would be. A little pain, a little yelp. A lot of pain elicited a lot of yelping and jumping around in an effort to get away from the shock. When Ivan turned up the current and left it on, the dog fell into despair because it couldn't escape, and it lay down and died. This is called, "Learned Helplessness" and many of us are reaching the point of despair and are giving up hope of escape.

I have never liked the term, "#We're all in this together." To me is sounds like we are all in the cage undergoing an experiment, but hey we're all getting the same shock together. I don't like the "misery loves company" solution to problems. I prefer the attitude of change. If you don't like it, you do something to change it. If you are tired of sitting on your couch watching the negative reporting on the news, turn it off and go for a walk. If you don't like the hum-drum routine you and your family have gotten into, change it, mix it up, you are in control of your home and your life. There are choices you can make and still remain in compliance with the CDC guidelines. Go for a hike, bike ride, or a drive. Get out in the sunshine and bring back energy to your life. Start making a recovery plan that includes work, making a way toward independence and away from the chains that bind us to mediocrity. You were not meant to settle for less nor should you just roll over and accept it. If you desire excellence, then you must get the momentum moving in that direction. Get up and start taking action now so that when the gate opens you'll be running far ahead of the pack toward the finish line.

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,

2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith."

Hebrews 12:1-2

Day 88: Momentum

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