Saturday, March 28, 2020

#88 / "As" and "As If"

Elissa Epel, Ph. D, is pictured above. Epel is a Professor, and Vice Chair, in the Department of Psychiatry, at University of California, San Francisco. "Her research aims to elucidate mechanisms of healthy aging, and to apply this basic science to scalable interventions that can reach vulnerable populations."

On March 18, 2020, a column by Epel appeared on the editorial page of the San Francisco Chronicle. Commenting on the current coronavirus pandemic, Epel says that "Anxiety is helpful, panic is damning." 

Good thought. Good advice. 

Epel also said something that I think warrants a more general consideration. In discussing "just how anxious should we be?" Epel says this:

There is a sweet spot. We need to take social distancing seriously not as if, but truly as our lives ... depend on it.

This was and is very good advice in our current situation, as we consider all the benefits of "social distancing." However, I do think there is a more general applicability in Epel's insight, too. Often, we tell ourselves that we should act, or consider action, "as if" it were very important that we do so. 

Whenever we use that "as if" phrase, we should cross-examine ourselves. Are we trying to avoid an admission that we really do need to act?

Now, and in other situations, we need to act not "as if" it would be important to do that, but because it IS important that we take action. 

Just a thought! I think Epel has put her finger on a turn of phrase that we often use to let ourselves off the hook!

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