In November of 1978 Jim Jones led over 900 people into drinking a cyanide-laced Kool-Aid-like drink. The result was mass suicide. From that event we coined the phrase, “drinking the Kool-Aid.” The expression is relevant to situations in which someone or a group of people are mindlessly devoted to a cause. It’s especially germane when the cause for which you’re drinking the Kool-Aid results in suicide. Unfortunately, that is exactly what many of us are doing during the COVID-19 situation.
Are you drinking any of these Kool-Aid flavors and if so, can you put down the glass before it’s too late?
Common Flavors of COVID Kool-Aid
WHAT IT IS: Drinking Raspberry Runner causes you to do what you can to run from or escape the negativity and fear of what’s happening. It results in you hiding, freezing, or doing things to flee news of the death tolls or the economic collapse. It manifests in different forms of escape, such as alcohol, eating, video games, drugs, or basically anything that will make you think you’re ignoring the overbearing sense of fear.
WHY IT’S A PROBLEM: After you drink Raspberry Runner, you feel awful. You feel unproductive. It can cause adverse health effects. The fear doesn’t go away, it just gets shoved down. More importantly, the underlying problems are still there. Getting drunk for the day doesn’t bring back your job, move your business forward, or eliminate health risks in this time of peril. The problem will still be there when you sober up. In other words, drinking Raspberry Runner is emotional suicide.
WHAT IT IS: Drinking Blueberry Blamer makes you spend all your energy on blaming someone or something for what’s happening. It involves a hyper focus on who did or didn’t do what to cause the problems. The result is angry rants on social media on why the president, governor, mayor, medical professionals, the people hoarding, the people overreacting, the people not taking it seriously, or whoever we want to point fingers at has caused the health or economic problems we now have.
WHY IT’S A PROBLEM: Like Raspberry Runner, Blueberry Blamer results in both making you feel awful and in no change to your problems. Wallowing in anger just leaves you angry. There’s a lot of research showing that venting makes you feel worse. See, e.g., this research article. Also, ranting about how angry you are at someone’s political actions doesn’t do anything to alter what you’re facing. In effect, drinking Blueberry Blamer also leads to emotional suicide.
WHAT IT IS: Drinking Pineapple Pity-Party causes you to sit around thinking about the horrible stuff that’s going on and simply lamenting. You end up spending days on end telling everyone, including yourself, about how terrible it is that you’ve lost your job, or your customers, or how your bank account is empty, how your family member is sick, how people are dying, or how the economy is tanking. It’s about focusing solely on the problem and feeling bad about it.
WHY IT’S A PROBLEM: Pineapple Pity-Party leaves you feeling awful and, once again, does nothing to solve the underlying problems. If all you do is wallow in your misery nothing changes. As with the other flavors, drinking Pineapple Pity-Party results in emotional suicide.
WHAT IT IS: Cherry Cheerleader is one of the more insidious flavors because it feels like the right thing to drink. It’s branded as healthy, but if you read the nutrition information on the back of the package, you’ll see that, by itself, it isn’t. It causes you to tell yourself and everyone around you that everything is going to be okay BUT while doing nothing else.
WHY IT’S A PROBLEM: The problem with Cherry Cheerleader is not in how it makes you feel (because it can leave you feeling better), but in the fact that it results in inaction. If you spend your time saying, “it’s going to be okay, it’s going to be okay,” but DON’T simultaneously jump out and start taking some action to actually make it okay, then it very likely WON’T be okay. Saying things will work out alone doesn’t make the problem disappear. It’s a temporary emotional fix, in many ways no different from slamming a glass of Raspberry Runner.
CAVEAT: There’s actually a way to make Cherry Cheerleader good for you. See the Solution Fruit Cocktail section below.
This, of course, begs the question: is there any flavor of Kool-Aid that’s COVID-free? The answer is yes. There are a few flavors you should try:
WHAT IT IS: Drinking Action Apple leaves you deciding what’s wrong, then taking steps to fix it. If you’re out of a job, what can you do to get more money? What can you do to get food? What can you do to get your business going? What can you do to deal with a lack of toilet paper? Do you have low energy?: work out, eat right, and get enough sleep. Action Apple results in solving the problems you’re facing.
WHY IT’S GOOD FOR YOU: Action Apple starts you on a path to solving your problems. Even if you don’t feel great now, it’ll leave you moving towards resolution. Having resolution to your problems will make you feel better. Even if what you’re doing doesn’t ultimately solve the problem, simply having direction will eliminate negative feelings and will start showing you what paths don’t work. You can then figure out what solutions will work.
WHAT IT IS: Drinking Go-Giver Grape results in you finding ways to give to others. It can be money or services. It can be as simple as providing something inspirational or entertaining you created.
WHY IT’S GOOD FOR YOU: After you drink Go-Giver Grape you’ll see the problems of others solved and see them feeling better. It’ll help to reduce the suffering of other people and help you to feel good for doing so. Ultimately it’ll solve more global problems than just your own.
Solution Fruit Cocktail
WHAT IT IS: You can blend Action Apple with Go Giver-Grape and make a Solution Fruit Cocktail. Take action and help others at the same time. You can even blend in Cherry Cheerleader. By mixing Cherry Cheerleader with either or both of Action Apple or Go-Giver Grape, you nullify its negative effects.
WHY IT’S GOOD FOR YOU: A Solution Fruit Cocktail blends all the positive benefits of the underlying Kool-Aids you use to make it up.
We’re going through frightening times. But in frightening times it’s ten times more important that you be careful about what you’re emotionally drinking. Don’t drink the COVID Kool-Aid and don’t commit emotional suicide. Drink what’s going to not only get you through this, but what will leave you in a better place after you do. Even if something terrible is happening or has happened to you, stay positive, get your head right (meditate or journal), take action, and solve problems. By doing that, you’ll get through this in the best way possible.