Dr Barbara Louw

Fear, fake news and false facades

The three things that are thriving in the midst of a national disaster are fear, fake news and false facades. People try to cling to the idea that life has to go on as usual in the shadow of grave health concerns.

The reality is that we have to find a new sense of normality in a maze of anxiety-provoking, exaggerated gossip. It is hard to distinguish what is really happening and when are people exaggerating their situation.

Everything that happens is not a potential catastrophe and you don’t have to be in the centre of everyone’s drama. You are allowed to take step back to take a reality check.

The good news is that people are resilient and much more flexible than we give ourselves credit for. We have used our innovative skills to deal with the shortage of electricity during load-shedding and now our movements are restricted. We have to make last-minute changes to our schedules because meetings get cancelled. We have to change our working hours and reprioritize interactions to fit in with the load-shedding roster.

From the perspective of being a member of a rather normal household, that is life. Having children, managing trauma centres and studying challenged my adaptability skills for many years. My husband and I did our pre-grad studies at UNISA when our children were very small. There were many midnights when I charged up the Muchleneuk campus to drop assignments in the post-box before deadlines. There were many other nights of minimum sleep, because an assignment and business proposal was due at the same time as having to attend a rather boring school meeting.

There are many examples of crisis situations where you were also forced to adapt and change. You survived the crisis and your recollection of the situation got lost among all the insignificant memories.

It is a challenge to embrace change and to find new solutions. As you dare to look beyond survival mode, you are in the perfect place to grow. It may be forced posttraumatic growth or the spontaneous eruption of a new season in your life. Real posttraumatic wellness!

New seasons are times to responsibly manage the shortfall in our health and relationships. Stubborn denial of changing realities and embittered entitlement damages relationships. The damage may also extend into your relationship with God. Turn back to Him in prayer and role your care and fear over to Him today.

As you start to imagine that there can come something good from the worldwide traumatic crisis, your stress levels will lower. Embracing change will lead to creative thinking and innovation. You will find new solutions and deeper meaning in regular experiences.

Since we are all in the same time of disaster, this is the season to show kindness to the people around you. Kindness opens the door to make new friends and to change the world. Change the world with one small prayer and one kind gesture at a time.

If you struggle to deal with the crisis or trauma in your life, you are welcome to make a personal appointment today. I help people to put trauma behind them by focusing on real long-term, practical solutions.

May the peace of God be with you.