Richard Stride Commentary: COVID-19 Thoughts and Why ‘I Don’t Have to Listen to You’

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I thought we were coming out the other side of this pandemic, didn’t you? 

Well, we aren’t. 

The fact is many experts have suggested the delta variant is comparable in contagiousness to the chicken pox — and that’s quite contagious. 

Some people are mad at the anti-vaccine people because they feel those who have not gotten the vaccine are causing the resurgence and spreading of the virus. Some people are mad at the pro-vaccine people because they feel like they are being pushed to get a vaccine for something that before this week did not have full U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval or they may be opposed to it on religious grounds or can’t take it for medical reasons.

Speaking of chicken pox, I recall the thinking of a time not so long ago when if you had a child who had chicken pox, other family members would bring their children around to catch chicken pox. 

The thinking was that this would create immunity for your child or at least maybe protect them from stronger strains. 

“Better to get chicken pox when you are young and can fight it off than to have it as an adult,” I would hear others say. 

According to the Association for Professionals Infection Control and Epidemiology, the same virus that causes chicken pox also causes shingles. Shingles is simply awful, and very painful, according to those who have had it. 

In fact, the chicken pox virus stays in your body even after recovery. The virus can resurface later in life and cause shingles. 

So much for the former wisdom of having your child exposed.

If the COVID-19 delta variant can spread at levels even close to chicken pox, it can spread really fast. Chicken pox, I am told by those who know, spreads by touching the blisters or saliva of an infected person. It can also be spread through the air by coughing or sneezing.    

Whatever side of the vaccine debate you are on, arguing, pointing your finger, shaking your fist or yelling louder is only going to make the other side dig in deeper. 

Do you recall as a child on the playground when someone would try to tell you what to do? Or at home when your sibling would try to boss you around? What was our response? It was probably something like, “You’re not my boss, I don’t have to listen to you.”  Which is true, at least, mostly true. 

But consider this — the fact is, you will listen to someone. We all do.

Permit me to explain. 

Depending on what type of power this person has will determine your adherence to their admonition. You may want to symbolically revolt by putting your hands on your hips, looking the person in the eye and saying, “you’re not my boss I don’t have to listen to you”. 

In 1959, social psychologists John R. French and Bertram Raven said there are six bases of power. 

They include:

• Legitimate power — This is like your boss at work. This person has the formal right to make demands. 

• Reward power — This person can compensate you for compliance. 

• Expert power — This person has a skill or knowledge.

• Referent power — This person is perceived as attractive or worthy. 

• Coercive power — This person could punish others for non-compliance. 

• Informational power — This person can control information another person may need.

This is simply why arguing does not do anyone any good, and often backfires. Unless you have one of these powers, people won’t listen. 

Even if you do, they might not listen. 

COVID-19 is around for a while — that is a fact!  We all listen to someone — that is a fact! Arguing gets you nowhere — that is a fact!

We all can learn to be more tolerant.

That is also a fact.

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Richard Stride has been a practicing psychotherapist. He has worked in behavioral and forensic mental health for over 30 years as a counselor, clinical director and senior executive. He served eight years as a captain in the United States Army Reserve. He enjoys teaching, public speaking and prides himself on being a student of history. He is the current CEO of Cascade Community Healthcare. He can be reached at drstride@icloud.com.