There’s a bee that’s been in my bonnet for the duration of the pandemic.
It’s about words. Specifically, the use (or shall we say, misuse) of words like lockdown and quarantine.
Let’s put things in perspective:
- If you have been interacting with one or more human beings, you are not in quarantine.
- If you go for drives, take walks or even take the garbage out, you are not locked down.
- If you’ve participated in safe, socially distant meet ups with friends or family, you are not in quarantine.
- If you mask up and keep hand sanitizer in the car for trips to the grocery store, you’re not in lockdown.
Who was really in lockdown? Seniors in nursing homes who – before the vaccine – could not even leave their room to interact with other residents.
Who was truly in quarantine? COVID patients in solitary hospital rooms, over half a million of whom took their last breath there, alone.
Why Worry About the Words?
The writer and communicator in me noticed the misuse early on. Not wanting to be a buzzkill and hoping the use of shelter-in-place would catch on, I stayed quiet. But when the media, politicians, celebrities and your closest acquaintances all use the same phrases online and in real life, it sticks.
I get it. Many of us may feel like we’re in lockdown and jokes are way funnier with the word quarantine. But words matter, especially at a time when emotions are heightened and keep climbing daily.
It’s not uncommon for a coaching client to use self-deprecating language. In such an instance I urge them to be mindful of the words they use, because words send messages – subtle or overt – to our subconscious, which runs right into the day-to-day reality of how we feel and, ultimately, what we believe.
Being Mindful Can Shift Our Mindset
While we’re hopefully inching closer to brighter days when lockdown and quarantine are as obtuse as Old English words, the pandemic is not over yet. If we’re going to make it through the rest of this pandemic, we need to be real with ourselves and with others. We have the power to calm the nerves of others and soothe our own stress in the process. Not only do we knead and shape our own disposition, we also play a role in collective states of frustration, depression, impatience and angst.
Whether we’re staying in or safely venturing out, the key to unlocking our spirit may be easier than we think. When we mind our language, we just may end up shifting and lifting our state of mind.