Surviving A Pandemic in the 100 Acre Wood
A long time ago in the exact geographic center of the North American continent a very extraordinary thing happened. One simple innocent moment in time, one split second decision that changed the world forever and has blessed us all for generations to come.
An English soldier stationed in Manitoba Canada was traveling to London at the advent of WWI. While in the train station in Winnipeg he spied a trapper trying to sell a small brown bear cub in a cage. The bear looked hungry and helpless, so he bought it and it traveled with him across the country and soon became a mascot for his troop of soldiers. When reaching London his troop was dispatched to the front lines in France. The soldier had named the bear Winnie after the city of Winnipeg and donated him to the London zoo in 1919.
London writer A.A. Milne author of children’s books often visited the zoo with his young son Christopher to see Winnie. Young Christopher was even allowed into the cage with the docile and friendly bear. Christopher adored the bear and named him Winnie the Pooh. The name Pooh was taken from the main character in one of his Dad’s book, Poo the swan. The name of a “good friend”. Winnie the good friend bear.
Later Christopher acquired stuffed animals over a course of several years and ” The 100 Acre Wood” was truly born; several years later his fathered penned Winnie the Pooh.
I find it amazing that one of the worlds most beloved, and enduring characters in fictional writing is based on a true story. Mr. Milne today would be in jail for child endangerment, as well as pending charges on cruelty to animals while facing extradition to Canada for illegal abduction and transportation of an endangered species. He may have eventually written a book from his jail cell, but it clearly would not have been the same.
The very real story soon became a lovely children’s book, eventually picked up by Disney where it spread faster than herpes at Woodstock; soon hitting every corner of the civilized world. Winnie became a worldwide celebrity overnight.
Why is that? Because good news travels fast. Subliminal good news travels faster than a virus. Metaphor is understood subliminally whether we are cognitive or not of its applications for our life. The characters, the stories, the nuggets of wisdom Milne created in his children’s-book classic has never been more important, and more needed than ever before. Not just for our children, but for our village, each one of us has our own village, our own 100 Acre Wood, our own refuge, our own tapestry of relationships and the matrix of support for our mutual survival.
Without realizing it Milne created fictional characters that reflect the 5 basic archetypal phenotypes of our global village. Personality is created by the morphism of genetic predisposition, epigenetic expression and neural plasticity from persistent environmental cues. We have a basic personality type that is our dominant or built in default mechanism from genetic predisposition combined from our parents from the pairing of 23 chromosomes each, combined which defines our physicality and our tics. Less than .1% of our total DNA defines our uniqueness. We are 99.9 % all the same DNA, but that small percent in conjunction with our environment creates our dominant personality for survival.
We inherit most of our personality traits that we can doing nothing about, but it does change/fluctuate with our environment and our awareness. Universally we have 5 distinct personality types known as the big 5. The Five Factor Model of personality traits suggests that individual differences in levels personality traits (neuroticism, extraversion, openness to experience, agreeableness, and conscientiousness) are present from a young age.
In working with those who grieve for over 30 years I have seen how important it is to be aware of one’s dominant personality when inheriting a grief journey, one does not expect or anticipate. When we are caught by surprise we default to our strong suit, our dominant character of survival. When a bilingual person is angered, in great pain or fear they always scream out in their native tongue, it’s their ingrained default. In grief we default to the depth of our experience in loss. We may be clueless and toolless, but some survival mechanism kicks in that we were born with. Which one that is, will be one of, or a combination of the big five to stay alive.
A person can take any personality test, but they all boil down to the big five. One does not need to look any further than reading Winnie the Pooh and looking closely at the 5 main characters to see how they reflect the big five. Find which character you are in the 100 Acre wood and you will have found your strong suit, your default to survive. Take a close self-assessment/personal inventory of yourself and you will find you are at times many of the characters, but one really bespeaks of how you engage socially; that is your personality you need and use for survival.
In processing grief, facing trauma or daunting social engagement we draw our character strengths automatically, its in our nature. We also have mirror neurons that allow us to feel emotions that others are exhibiting simply by witnessing the non-verbal cues they express in their communications, which is also in our nature. We are all villagers of the same global village, are hard wired for empathy, compassion and cooperation. It is fear that interferes with that innate understanding
We as humans are born with only two innate fears: the fear of loud noises & the fear of falling, all other fears are manufactured by our experiences. If you are bitten by a snake as a child, you will fear snakes. We fear darkness because we may fall. When there is no light there will be fear. We fear sudden loud noises; it is our fight or flight response when taken by surprise. When we are taken by surprise or caught in the dark there will be fear. Both are innate.
Light dispels fear in darkness, education dispels fear of falling (being taken by surprise). Create the light and seek knowledge, that is wisdom.
When we know who we are as a person; we are armed by our own assets. We are born as one complete human being, body (animal), mind (intellect), spirit (avatar of animation) and soul, the arbiter for the journey to not only survive but to thrive. Animals can survive but only humans can conceive of choices to thrive. The footprint we leave behind created by the choices we make. Our bodies may die but our choices do not. Acknowledge and empower the strong suit you were born with, recognize what is in your nature. Listen to your body, listen to your intellect, listen to your higher power, make your best decision from the input from all three -in all things. The Latin phrase “nosce te ipsum” means: Know Yourself. Know yourself, be yourself, be your best asset.
Part 2 -Assessment:
How do you relate to people whether at home, work, or play? How do you engage with people most of the time? How do you represent yourself; how do you survive? This is important to knowledge to have when we are in survival mode. How we can survive and mitigate the spread of Covid-19 pandemic? We must arm ourselves. We are at war with a microscopic alien that is intent on weeding out as much of the world’s very old, its infirm, its weak, the homeless and the destitute. A science fiction novel has become reality.
We need to empower ourselves to fight this alien attack. P.O.W.ER. is an acronym for the 5 major characters from Milne’s classic Winnie the Pooh: Piglet, Owl, Winnie, Eeyore and Rabbit. We are composed of traits from all these colorful and diverse characters built in to one dynamic individual; a personal operating system that we are born with. We are a plethora of human qualities and characteristics that personifies how we act and how we are perceived by others. It provides us our basic personality with its assets and its flaws. It fluctuates with our environment, education and experiences as we try to maintain equilibrium in an unbalanced and ever-changing world. In theory we are an amalgamation of all the characters, but in practice we draw to the strong suit that we are born with. This is especially true when engaging with others from a place of fear and trauma or extreme courage.
So, who are you in the hundred Acre Wood?
Piglet is an extrovert and one who craves/needs to hug and to be hugged. He/she find the pandemic social restrictions are very frustrating and personal space social distancing almost painful.
Piglet is a person who is open to experience; one who is passionate, inventive, and curious, with an appreciation for art, emotion, adventure, unusual ideas, and variety of experiences. This person is imaginative, highly independent and depicts a personal preference for a variety of activities over a strict routine with a proclivity for novelty. Piglet can be perceived as unpredictability or having a lack of focus. Moreover, they may seek out intense, euphoric experiences, such as skydiving, living abroad, gambling, et cetera.
Piglets have a general appreciation for beauty and willing to try new things. They tend to be, (when compared to others) more creative and more aware of their feelings. They think more abstractly and are more likely to hold unconventional beliefs. They can be politically active and a champion for racial intolerance and equality. Piglets may start many projects at once; change jobs/frequently or start new careers. Some people may perceive them to have a low attention span, scattered and searching, but regardless they are all about heart. Piglets love to hug, piglets lighten up a room with their energy; they are magnanimous by nature
Owl is an introvert. Owl is researching, reading daily, downloading and graphing statistics on the disease; Owl purchased sanitizer and TP for a month the day after the Corona virus was announced in Wuhan China. Quarantine has already been in place for years.
Owl is a person with a tendency to show self-discipline, act dutifully, and aim for achievement against measures or other’s expectations. Owls are in control of how they regulate and direct their impulses and emotions. Owls are quiet, studious and take much pride in academic achievement; often writers and/or teachers. Owls maintain a low profile and stay under the radar.
Owls are highly organized and dependable, establish and maintain routines. Owls prefer planned rather than spontaneous behavior and may be perceived as stubborn and resistant to change; Owls may be obsessive in certain personal routines. Although perceived slow to change, they are wise and think before they speak. They are extremely adaptive once they have processed facts to their conclusion. Owls are steady as she goes and very resourceful in chaos and possess many survival skills. Owls love alone time; still waters run deep; Owls are always good counsel.
Winnie is an omnivert exhibiting both introvert/extravert characteristics that thrives on routine. During the crisis Winnie is still visiting friends, going to work the exact same time etc. but is extremely frustrated not going to his/her daily stool at Starbucks at 8:45 am on the way to work.
Winnie loves social harmony and highly values getting along with others. They are generally considerate, kind, generous, trusting and trustworthy, helpful, and willing to compromise their interests with other. Winnies have an altruistic and affable nature and have an optimistic view of human nature and people in general.
Winnie’s nature of agreeableness positively correlates with the quality of relationships with one’s team members or in any social engagement. Winnies also possess transformational leadership skill; they shine by example. They tend to have many friends and make few enemies. Winnie is compassionate and cooperative rather than suspicious and antagonistic. Winnies stay steadfast and hold firm in their convictions; they are comfortable in their own skin. Winnies have a trusting and helpful nature, and what may be naive or submissive is in fact the power of their own vulnerability and probably the most resilient in the face of trauma. Winnies want/need to make a positive difference and usually do.
Eeyore is an introvert and he/she expected the virus would come and that he/she thinks they will most assuredly become a casualty. Eeyore thinks he/she has probably has already got the virus and has spread it everywhere and will quarantine easily but frustrated having no one complain to about getting “ it “ but would give you extra TP if you needed it.
Eeyores tend to experience negative emotions, such as anger, anxiety, or depression. Often, they are emotionally reactive and vulnerable to stress and may complain a lot. They are more likely to interpret ordinary situations as threatening, and minor frustrations as hopelessly difficult. Their negative emotional reactions can persist for long periods of time and they may appear to be in a bad mood or have mood swings.
Eeyores want to stay in the background, they have a desire to help and be of service but often too shy to step forward. Often come to work early and leave late. Always sees projects and tasks to their end and fruition. Dots his I’s and crosses her T’s; always keeping deadlines. Eeyores love to be designated for a task as opposed to volunteering. Eeyores tend to be calm, collected and relaxed in most situations. Eeyores do not like to take a leadership role or speak in public but excel as a major support person in the background. Eeyore is a steadfast friend and that person who would literally give you the shirt off his/her back or give you a ride home. Eeyores may be complex but are dedicated and trustworthy; people love Eeyore.
Rabbits are obvious extroverts who are championing the war on Covid-19 wherever they can. They are Organizing food/water/ masks for the needy, creating websites and ad hoc support groups, volunteering for public health militias, manning tents and putting up posters. Most are already in jobs that require their presence during the crisis. Rabbits are invaluable during a pandemic.
Rabbits are characterized by high energy with a breadth of activities and have a profound ability to easily engage with the external world easily. Rabbits enjoy interacting with people, and are often perceived as High Energy or Type A. They tend to be enthusiastic, action-oriented individuals. They possess high group visibility; very talkative they like to assert themselves and may provide their opinion unsolicited. They like to take leadership roles.
Rabbits are extraverted, outgoing and energetic and often over-achievers. Filled with positive energy and emotions, they have a tendency for surgency, immediacy and assertiveness. They are highly sociable and seek stimulation in the company of others. Rabbits are talkative by nature and can be perceived as attention-seeking and domineering. Some may consider rabbits to be to be pushy, intolerant and labeled control freaks but regardless they are always there when you need them; they are invaluable in an organization or group for it to be effective. Rabbits are multi-taskers at heart and are great organizers
It is very likely you will know someone who has been exposed the virus in your family, friends, neighbors and workmates. It is also very likely someone may die from the virus in your community. Whether navigating the waters of uncertain times or navigating your personal trauma/grief journey, draw to your strong suit.
It is highly unlikely that you will be one character alone but rather two or three characters will be prominent and two or three will be less prominent. Which character you resonate with most is likely the most prominent character of your personality.
What is important is to take inventory of ourselves to promote our self-worth and gain confidence in what we can provide and honesty in what we cannot. We must strive to take advantage of our natural strengths and work on our shortcomings.
During this global pandemic crisis:
Be yourself. Be honest. Be your best. Be kind. Express gratitude. Show respect. Wash your hands often.
Be your Winnie, use your Piglet, depend on your Owl, express your Eeyore, energize your Rabbit and remember what Christopher Robin said to Pooh:
“You are Braver than you believe, Stronger than you seem and Smarter than you think”
To take test, go to: Free download for the P.O.W.E.R. Personality quiz at www.heartlightstudios.com