For those not too familiar with an externalizing orientation, I’ve written the following by personifying the coronavirus and naming it “Corona.” I find it helpful to think about problems as separate from me, rather than in me. I hope you find something helpful in the following… Corona, I didn’t ask you to come into my life or the lives of so many people I love. You just showed up and insist we notice you. You announced yourself by making people sick and sometimes killing them. You’ve made it possible for Fear and Anxiety and other problems to exploit your presence and infiltrate our lives as well. You’re helping Loneliness thrive, for instance. Together, you are all creating tremendous suffering for many people. Corona, I want you to know I’ve had a lot of experience with bullies who want to dominate me and with relationships that invite me to feel powerless. Thanks to my relationship with narrative therapy, I have found it very helpful to think about you and me being in a relationship. From that perspective, I am able to embrace many questions I am finding helpful. Generally, I am thinking a lot about how I want to relate to you entering the world in the way you have and, as importantly, how I don’t want to relate to you. Thinking about us being in a relationship helps me think about what I value and try to stand for as a person, and how I want to respond to your presence, even while I recognize the real power you have. One of those things I value is caring about more than my individual self. While thinking about my relationship with you, I’m also thinking about your particular relationship with everyone else. This allows me to become curious about your effects on everyone I meet. I can try to make it my business to inquire about how you are affecting people in specific ways, and whether they are responding to your presence in ways that fit with their preferences for who they want to be and how they want to relate to you. I’m also thinking about all the people who don’t have anyone to ask them questions, and how your influence is having unfair effects because of our communal willingness to turn away from other social viruses, like racism, poverty, and environmental exploitation. Corona, I’m lucky to be part of a community who shares my Narrative Worldview perspectives, so as a way to try and have a say about our relationships with you I am asking my dear friends and colleagues to help me collect questions that we might like to carry with us as we engage with one another and navigate your new presence and power. Here is some starter dough, meant to be read slowly… • What image of the coronavirus do you have when you think about it as a problem that has power and has come into your life?
• How would you describe the kind of relationship you’re currently in with the coronavirus?
• What name would you give to this kind of relationship?
• What kind of effects is your current relationship with the coronavirus having on you in particular and in the various domains of your life?
• How is it influencing how you relate to yourself and to others, including those with less privilege?
• How is it affecting you at work?
• Is it inviting additional problems to take advantage of its presence?
• Are these effects the coronavirus is having okay with you, not okay, some of both, or neither?
• If there are some effects that are not okay with you, why are they not okay?
• What would you say you are caring about that makes it possible for you to take a position that those effects are not okay with you?
• Are you okay with your current relationship with the coronavirus, or are there ways you would like to revise your relationship?
What questions come to your mind as we navigate that new relationship with the coronavirus? Please share them in the comments box below!