Wright Foundation | April 22, 2020

Love in the Time of Coronavirus: Self-Quarantine and Getting Over Our Differences in Close Quarters

The Coronavirus outbreak has been an unprecedented experience for us all. We may find ourselves juggling our roles all at once and under one roof—parent, spouse, employee, ad-hoc teacher, and more. 

Getting along in self-quarantine is a big challenge. Even if we get along well in normal circumstances, close quarters can be difficult.


It’s no wonder many of us are feeling overwhelmed, out-of-sorts, and at odds with each other in our households. None of us have lived through this kind of global pandemic before, and no playbook tells us how to cope—moreover, how to thrive—in these circumstances.

But the skills we use to thrive in our “regular” lives can be successfully employed and used as tools in our brave new world as well.

How to Deal with All These Guidelines (Even When They’re Frustrating)

Even the closest people have personality differences. Even though I am the one who drives us toward order, in the time of Corona, Judith is way more fastidious than I am. In fact, sometimes, it drives me nuts! Sure I keep distance, but I’m not as extreme on distance as Judith. I don’t worry at the level she does. She says I am like a puppy dog around other people, and she is not wrong.

But when I reframe the way I’m looking at Judith’s feelings right now, I realize that her health challenges put her more at risk for the virus and illness in general. She has to be careful to stay safe. It helps her feel secure and eases her sense of fear.

I may find washing my hands thirty times a day or donning a mask a bit stupid at first, but the truth is, I’m not doing it for me. I’m doing it for Judith because I love her. I’m also doing it to protect others who I don’t even know. I’m wearing the mask to avoid bringing my germs into a setting, and it’s actually an act of love and compassion for all the people I may affect.

When we reframe our situation not as restrictive, but as an act of kindness, solidarity, and caring for those around us, the restrictions and guidelines don’t seem as annoying, ridiculous, or frustrating. We may find we want to take action to protect others, even more urgently than before.

What a beautiful act of kindness it is when we wear a mask to protect a stranger’s health. What a sign of caring for our fellow man when we see empty parks, quiet streets, and shuttered buildings. It’s a thing of beauty to see everyone coming together with care, concern, and appreciation for each other.

Those who are teaching their children may realize a greater appreciation for the role that teachers play in our lives. When we pick up a food order to go, we may feel our hearts swell with gratitude for those who cooked and prepared the food. We may think of the supply chain workers—all those who contributed to getting food to our plate.

A few years ago, author A.J. Jacobs set out to thank everyone who contributed to his morning cup of coffee. What initially began as an opportunity to thank a few people turned into a journey of gratitude where he thanked over 1,000 people who had contributed in some way to the coffee. From the farmer who grew the beans, to the manufacturer of the paper cup, to those who roasted, shipped, and poured the coffee, it was a staggering number of people.

Many of us don’t find those moments of appreciation as often when life is moving along like usual. We forget all the contribution that goes into the details of our lives. We may forget the incredible influence that each of us has and the profound ways each action impacts another.

People are frightened right now. They see loved ones face illness; they may face illness themselves, not to mention the economic toil and impact of the situation. We may feel helpless, but this allows us to realize how each little action creates a ripple effect. When we hold empathy and gratitude, we start viewing all these micro-actions as kind and generous. This reframing helps us realize why we’re showing caring by being careful right now.

Unsettled at Home

With the social distancing guidelines and encouragement to shelter in place, our homes may feel like less of a sanctuary and more like a punishment. During this time, it’s essential to focus on self-compassion and care for others as well. Find ways to reach out with our hearts instead of with our arms.

Since we can’t connect physically with those outside of our house, we can find impactful ways to engage and be present through technology. Scheduling Facetime or Zoom with coworkers, friends, and others can help us feel connected. Enjoy a dinner party with friends over video conferencing, for example.

We can also shift our intention to using this time to connect more deeply with our partner or children. It’s hard when we’re working from home and managing schoolwork.  Our schedule may feel like a blur and there are no date nights or playdates.

What if we shift the idea of a date night to staying in and spending intentional and purpose-driven time together? Rather than watching another TV show (as we scroll through our phone), what if we sat together over dinner with no distractions and talked? Or what if we read a book with our partner? What if we used this time to discover new aspects of each other and our relationship?

What if we sat up play dates with our own kids? What if we made time to enjoy a game together, to have a conversation about something important, or to explore a topic together as we learn? Our children are still engaging with their schools online, talking to teachers and classmates over email. What if we help them to connect with their friends and family members? We can use this time to spend one-on-one time with our kids and learn something new about them as well.

If we look at ways to nourish and help each other, we can reframe the schooling and even the cleaning and cooking as opportunities to serve our loved ones. How can we form a partnership in purpose? What can we do to come out of our time in isolation, stronger, more connected, and more deeply engaged than ever before?

The Learning Experience of Our Situation

Dealing with a global pandemic isn’t something any of us have a playbook to handle. We haven’t been through these circumstances before. We may be spending more time at home than we have in years. Our routines are altered; we’re adapting our work and juggling multiple tasks to get through this time.

In addition to thinking of the Coronavirus outbreak as a chance to learn about family and loved ones, we can also learn more about ourselves. How are we finding ways to be more conscious and find fulfillment during this time? How are we finding ways to emerge from this experience with new insights and ideas about who we are and how we rise to the occasion?

We are more influential and powerful than we may realize. Our fears and feelings of inadequacy during this time may paralyze us. Still, we can also find the opportunity to embrace our sense of aliveness and tap into our personal power.

Those of us who are sheltering at home alone have an excellent opportunity to stay in contact with ourselves. Tap into a sense of self-efficacy—set the intention we will make it through this situation. We can handle this situation and get through it. We can use this time to learn and grow and work toward a better world. We will persevere.

If you’re looking for learning opportunities we have many of our courses available online for FREE during this time. Please visit Wright Now to explore the options. We will also be offering a series of web-based events. I hope you consider joining us to learn more about yourself and your world!

The Wright Foundation for the Realization of Human Potential is a leadership institute located in Chicago, Illinois. Wright Living performative learning programs are integrated into the curriculum at Wright Graduate University.