The behaviour of proactive people is the result of their own conscious choice, based on their values and purpose. Proactive people are still influenced by external stimuli (physical, social, or psychological), but their self-awareness and self-management create a space between stimulus and response in which a choice can be made. In crisis situations, such as a pandemic, particularly a long-lasting one, we risk losing that freedom of choice and become reactive in our thinking, feelings, and actions. That in turn inhibits our creativity as the executive part of our brain, the pre-frontal cortex, is short circuited. Top
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In Man’s Search for Meaning, Victor Frankl explains that, although Nazi captors could control his entire environment, only he could decide how it was going to affect him. Despite the external situation (stimulus), he had the freedom and power to choose his response (Fig. 1). He had response-ability, the ability to choose, the human freedom that no one can take away. This short bulletin explains how we can apply this concept during the COVID-19 crisis.
In contrast, proactive people subordinate those feelings to values and purpose, creating possibilities for action. It is important that we use proactive language, not only for ourselves, but also for those we work and interact with during this COVID-19 crisis. Only then will we continue to see creatively what else is possible.
External links of interest
This COVID-19 Physician Wellness podcast is part two of the first of a series of podcasts aimed at assisting physicians cope in this difficult time. Dr. Curtis Johnston, Edmonton Zone Deputy Medical Director, and Dr. Debrah Wirtzfeld, Associate Chief Medical Officer, Physician Health, Diversity & Wellness, speak about the impact social isolation and social media can have on wellness.