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The 5 G's of Change to Think About During the COVID-19 Pandemic

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The world is dealing with the unknown.

We are all dealing with the unknown.

Coronavirus, or COVID-19, is taking us on a journey we have never experienced before, certainly not in our lifetimes. Ultimately we are having to deal with change on a huge scale.

Change causes fear, and fear causes responses in ourselves and those around us we might not expect, like or know how to handle. Change causes grief and at the moment, the world, its leaders and society in general is grappling with the first stages of grief.

Confusion and chaos is infiltrating cities, towns and villages across the globe. No one is immune from the impacts of this virus, whether infected or not.

When I worked as a Change Management Consultant, I used a grief model with organizations dealing with massive change.

The 5 G’s of Change

Griping – this stage is when you feel like you just can’t face it. It’s all too much. It’s chaotic, it’s stressful. It’s all about you.

Groaning – this stage is the complaining stage. You want to let everyone know how difficult life is in your world.

Groping – during this stage you begin to walk forward as if in a forest, moving the trees out of your way so you begin to see a little clearer.

Grasping – you begin to understand what the new situation means.

Growing – You embrace the new, find ways to live again and acceptance brings peace.

A diagnosis of a chronic disease brings change.

Those of us in the chronic illness community know the reality of how life-changing disease is. For us, it’s not a virus that will come and go within 14 days. For us, it’s there when we lay down to sleep, wake up every morning and try to navigate through each day. It dictates much of what we can and can’t do 365 days of the year.

Our chronic diseases can kill us, disable us, progress, go into remission perhaps, but generally they have no cure and often no treatment. We simply have to adjust and learn to live again.

Fear Of the Unknown

The biggest threat of the coronavirus, in my opinion, is the reaction of people who fear the unknown.

Around the world, we are already seeing panic buying and generally people thinking of themselves first. It’s the primal sense of survival taking over.

So why so much fear?

Basically we all like to know what lies ahead. We like to think we are in control when the reality is, there are very few things in life we can control.

I’m chronically ill and in all honesty the threat of this virus is the least of my concerns. I could die from any virus, as I’m immune-compromised. I live with that reality daily.

We should be concerned though. I believe the concern should be more about the impacts on our economy and our overall way of life as in essence, the world is closing down.

Already countries are closing their borders with full travel bans.

Companies are being forced to work out ways to do business in the virtual world.

Social gatherings are being cancelled. Sporting events are being cancelled or held behind closed doors with no spectators.

Many people are self-isolating, some because they are worried, some because they need to.

Governments, businesses and society in general are being forced to look at new ways of living.

Some of these impacts might actually morph into a new better way of living, once the crisis passes. This pandemic could eventually create a whole new world of opportunities.

A Possible New World

Perhaps COVID-19 will force us as society to build a new version of ourselves.

A new world, a better world.

Sometimes new life comes from difficult times. It’s not always bad. There is always the hope of new beginnings. The new version may well be a very different world but it can still be beautiful.

We can’t escape what’s happening at the moment with COVID-19. Stress and panic will only make us more susceptible to the virus.

Taking precautions is important, as the more it can be contained, the easier it will be on our health system to care for those experiencing health complications.

Every day, living with chronic disease, I say goodbye to more of the old and am learning to embrace more of the new. I won’t pretend it’s easy because it’s not.

Living through this world pandemic won’t be easy for anyone, for different reasons for everyone. We need to consider why our families, friends and neighbors are reacting perhaps in a way we weren’t expecting.

We need to remember survival instincts often don’t bring out the best in any of us.

As individuals we can make the choice to check our own behaviors and attitudes in this crisis, and check in on those around us to see how they are and ask about their main concerns.

Coronavirus won’t be going away in a hurry, so it’s important to acknowledge our own shock and fear, but we do need to find ways to move past that stage.

It’s a process, but it’s a much easier process when acceptance replaces fear and fighting. It’s when we accept a situation, no matter how difficult and life changing, something new can be created.

Just like the butterfly comes from the cocoon, new life will emerge.

“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new. ” — Socrates

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Originally published: March 20, 2020
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