On Whose Authority?!

Here we are, two months of quarantine behind us and the world is re-opening. We can once again eat at our favorite restaurants, score bargains at our favorite stores, and finally give and receive hugs again! Or can we? Well, that depends on who you ask. If you are confused, apprehensive, and scared about moving forward, you are not alone.

In the US, we are met with a unique conundrum, and the responsibility and repercussions of this conundrum have been placed squarely on the shoulders of each individual. On the one hand we have our political leaders urging Americans back to work (especially here in the southern United States), citing abysmal unemployment numbers and a looming economic recession. On the other hand, we have the scientific community telling us that it’s not quite time yet, and to venture out into public spaces too early could spell death and disaster. For even the most informed person, there is no good choice, and both options carry the potential for serious consequence. It is not surprising that many feel deeply shaken by this double-bind.

Like a good parent, authority figures who are fulfilling their duty act as a buffer between the individual and the forces of the collective that threaten to overwhelm the individual’s capacity for awareness. In turn, those in positions of authority push back upon the collective as advocates for their constituents. Many would say that at this moment in American history, that process has broken down, leaving the individual to experience the crushing weight of the collective without the anxiety-assuaging safety typically provided by authority. So that twittering in your chest, and your inability to sit and read a book or start that project you’ve always wanted to start (even though you now have more free time than you’ve had since the summer of your junior year in high school) makes a lot of sense. We are being asked to make decisions that, deep down, we know will have a tangible impact upon our lives, the lives of those we are closest to, and our future world. That is a lot to have thrust upon us! These decisions are certainly not made any easier when those who mistake bravado for courage bully and shame those who may feel more reticent.

Now, I would argue that we are constantly making such decisions, but the difference here is that we are unable to displace any of that anxiety-provoking (pesky!) responsibility upon any outside authority. I would also say that this affords us with a unique opportunity to gain greater insight into our own relationship to authority, and is a chance to gain greater autonomy over our own lives. That is, if we have the capacity and tools to sit with this anxiety and look it in the face, to see it for what it really is. 

What do you feel as you contemplate the end of quarantine? Where do you feel these emotions in your body? If anger is your first response (valid, and completely warranted btw) what emotions drive that anger? How would you handle this if you were the one in charge?

A relationship with a therapist whom you genuinely connect with is invaluable in helping to find your own answers to these and other difficult questions. A good therapist will create a safe space where the two of you can stare down this rabid dog of anxiety together. Every dilemma is an opportunity for growth, if we are able to stay open to the challenge.


During this time of crisis I am offering reduced rates to all of those who are impacted. It is important to me that those who need help get help, so even if you aren’t interested in seeing me for therapy I am happy to provide referrals to other excellent therapists in the Fayetteville, AR area. For the safety of my clients, myself, and the public, I will be conducting all therapy sessions via telehealth for the duration of the pandemic. Contact me at tyler@tylerq.com. You don’t have to go it alone.

All information provided here is my opinion and should not be regarded as a replacement for your own personal psychotherapy. For more information about me and my practice, please visit tylerq.com

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  1. Like!! I blog quite often and I genuinely thank you for your information. The article has truly peaked my interest.

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