Finding it hard to make sense of all of this? It could have to do with your ability to abstract your situation.

There are minds that create abstraction and there are minds that bring it down to earth. The practical thinker is the one who brings solutions and knowledge to bear on what is really happening right here. Why is this easy for some and a nightmare for others?

Big numbers, global estimates, national priorities, international agreements, how to make sense of all of this? The enormity of this crisis is not easily summed up nor communicated or understood. There is a lot of abstract information that is being thrown around right now. That is not to say that it is wrong or misleading. But, do all of these numbers and the global reality they seem to reflect leave you entirely wondering what the heck is going on and what you are supposed to do with all that information?

Not all people can put big numbers into relative meaning. That is to say, interpret abstractions or vast numbers to make sense of their experience. “What does it mean that Italy’s death rate is so high? Am I safe?”

The ability to abstract is the other side of not being here, present to what is, and caring for what is in front of you. Abstraction is an ability of certain thinking styles who provide solutions and information (data) but not the means to integrate it into what is here and now. Do you have the ability to be very practical in your thoughts? If you do, then information that does not help you in the here and now is probably just weighing on your mind. You are likely to be very organised around virus spread prevention (WASH YOUR HANDS), human contact, day to day survival, what’s in the kitchen store and other more practical and pressing issues.

There is a simple measure for how much abstraction you can deal with and how to ‘make sense’ of information in a way that won’t drive you mad. What should you really pay attention to? If abstractions are not your thing, you’d probably be wise to keep your focus local and real to your own circumstance. Everything else is going to just overwhelm you right now. In many places, local governments and help agencies are doing an amazing job at keeping people informed.

If you need info, plug into their local updates and give the big world view a rest. Stay local, take care of local, and make a differences locally. That’s where your strength lies, and it is very much needed right now. There is great value in your point of view and the practical.