On an individual level, whether we see ourselves as “surviving” or “surrendering to,” or “standing up to” COVID-19 depends a lot on what we’ve been through in the past two years, says Steven Meyers
, PhD, a clinical psychologist and professor at Roosevelt University in Chicago.
Our personal circumstances — whether we’ve gotten the virus, or lost a job because of pandemic layoffs, or seen loved ones grapple with these same challenges — will impact our attitudes. Faced with overwhelming circumstances like these, people sometimes use verbs like “battling”
to feel more in control, says Shikha Jain
, MD, FACP, an assistant professor at the University of Illinois Chicago, oncologist, and the president of Women In Medicine. “When people talk about ‘fighting’ a disease or illness, it makes them feel like they’re doing something proactive, and taking action steps to deal with the situation in whatever way they can,” she says. This language, whether it’s subconscious or not, can make us feel like we have agency, even in a tough situation that we can’t exactly make better.