Stacking Blocks

(By Ron Fay) Feeling a little off?

You’re probably thinking it’s normal. Your routine has been upended. No more work. No more going to church. No more going to the gym. No more connecting with others, at least physically.

And you’re right – you should feel a little off. Big changes in a short period. Plus you’re being reminded every time you don the latest wardrobe addition to cover your mouth and nose that things are way different.

But what’s to worry about? The government has your back. They’re sending you freshly printed money in the way of stimulus checks and extended unemployment benefits to satisfy your ‘needs’.

But that’s not enough.

Many people understood that there would be consequences of the lockdowns, but no one knew just what these consequences were going to be. Looking at the stock market lately, most investors think things will be back to normal in a jiffy.

I doubt it.

Your Pyramid Blocks are Shifting

Maslow’s “Hierarchy of Needs” theory is a useful tool to help us see just how the coronavirus has changed our individual worlds.

The theory is that needs on the lower levels must be satisfied before you can move up to higher level needs.

For instance, basic physiological needs such as food, water, and shelter must be satisfied before we worry too much about having a social life.

The government has satisfied most of our basic physiological needs with the free money, but what about our other needs?

Let’s take for example of a woman who has a job and provides for herself. Let’s say she enjoys her job, has many friends there and is looked at favorably by coworkers and management.

So the government shuts her company down and locks down her community. She is given unemployment benefits to subsist.

Physiologically, the government is taking care of her. They send her free money so she can stay home. Box checked.

Her Safety and Security block has totally been shattered. Will her company reopen? Will she have a job any more? Will the government keep sending checks after July 31st?

Her Love and Belonging needs will also be significantly impacted, as she will be missing her friends at work and limited from connecting with other loved ones and friends.

Esteem needs were perhaps being met with her work life. She has gone from providing for herself to being on the government payroll. How does that make her feel about herself? She no longer feels the respect from others at her job. If she was a productive worker, there will be no sense of achievement at the end of the day.

As she scrambles to fill the voids of all her lower level needs not being met, the idea of Self-Actualization is lost. Her life has now lost balance as physical, mental and spiritual needs are neglected.

So if you’re feeling a little (or a lot) out of whack, there’s a reason for it.

Stacking the Blocks Back Up

I’m no psychologist, so I won’t even pretend to be able to help you stack the blocks back up. It’s very individual. Where some people are sweating bullets during this crisis, others are partying like it’s 1999.

But the government has some ideas.

To make sure you don’t “lose it” over the lockdown, the CDC has some bullet pointed advice:

  • Take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories, including social media. Hearing about the pandemic repeatedly can be upsetting.
  • Take care of your body.
  • Make time to unwind. Try to do some other activities you enjoy.
  • Connect with others. Talk with people you trust about your concerns and how you are feeling.

Perhaps you already had a plan to start getting fit over the “Pause” as it afforded you the time and opportunity to eat right and exercise to feel good. Millions of Americans had the same idea as they went out and bought millions of dollars worth of fitness equipment for the past couple of months. Sure, gyms like ours being closed was part of the reason, but I bet the sudden surge in home exercise equipment sales has something to do with turning over a new leaf.

Having trouble executing that fitness plan?

Well yeah. Fitness and all your other self-improvement needs are at the tippy top of Maslow’s pyramid. What about all you other needs below that that aren’t being met.

There’s a reason Maslow’s pyramid is considered a Motivational Theory. Remember, it works from the bottom up.

Being in the fitness business for over 30 years, I can tell you that all the CDC’s ideas are good ones. They will help you get your balance back. But because they only address the very top of your needs with little consideration to the underlying building blocks, you may find it very difficult to get going.

So we know we need to get moving but we just don’t have it in us.

Here’s the secret – exercise with someone.

“Oh no. Can’t do that. I’ll get The COVID.”

Yeah, I get it. They’ve got you scared good. No worries. It will wear off. Eventually, you’ll figure out that staying isolated is not a good long term plan. Not only will you go crazy but you will not be able to function in society.

So keep your distance and wear the mask where you can’t. Pick someone that is being as careful as you are as an exercise partner.

Working out with someone is one of the best ways to get into a routine and stick with it.

Why? Because of all of the reasons above. Your exercise buddy should build you up. It should be someone you enjoy being around that is a good listener. And of course they should be virus free.

And you should be all of these things to them.

Think of your exercise sessions as therapy.

And if you don’t have someone to exercise with you should know you always have someone to talk to. It’s a good time to ‘exercise’ the power of prayer as well.

You can’t do this yourself. Not because you’re weak, but because we are designed to be part of something bigger. That’s the basis of Maslow’s Pyramid and the basis of being truly happy.