Individual Responsibility After Lockdown

The rules that have been imposed to contain the spread of coronavirus can't be the only barrier that contains the infection. Individual responsibility, common sense, and self-awareness are crucial. Now, more than ever, we have to think of other people's well-being, not just our own.
Individual Responsibility After Lockdown
Valeria Sabater

Written and verified by the psychologist Valeria Sabater.

Last update: 15 December, 2022

Individual responsibility after lockdown is going to be the key to living with this virus long-term. Now more than ever, we need people to act with their communities in mind. We need to think and act as a collective. It’s challenging, but it’s a matter of survival.

In recent history, this is the strictest set of rules we’ve ever had to live under. We’ve lost much of what people have been fighting for for decades: freedom of movement, freedom to work, to choose who we want to spend time with, etc.

The measures designed to stop the spread of infection have confined us to our homes. Thus, the outside world has been put on pause.

Now, some places are starting to open up again. It’s a slow, tedious, and confusing process. These new measures are slightly more permissive, with baby steps that move us towards more economic activity. This “new reality” also includes a new way of interacting with people in the outside world.

However, the opportunity to get out of the house and back into the world again is only possible if we all behave responsibly. It’s time for humanity to step up to the plate and show that we’re capable of looking out for others, that we aren’t driven only by our own needs and desires.

A girl with a mask.

Self-awareness and individual responsibility after lockdown

Responsibility, generosity, and a moral compass that tells you what’s right and wrong are more important right now than whatever rules the authorities are imposing on us.

The crucial moment is here. No one should have to remind us what our responsibilities are. We’ve had enough time watching the progression of this virus around the world to know how to protect ourselves and other people.

This pandemic is an opportunity to flex those moral muscles and remind us of our valuesThis is a way to give a purpose and meaning to everything that we’ve been going through.

It’s not just about following certain rules. This is a good time to reflect on what the world really needs right now: empathy, generosity, and community-minded behavior. That’s the only way we’ll be able to get through this crisis.

Moral and physical health

There’s one thing we all need to keep in mind. If we want to survive this pandemic, protecting our physical health isn’t enough. Respecting social distancing norms and wearing a mask all the time won’t solve all of the problems we’re living through right now.

People with serious psychological problems are suffering in isolation. There are thousands of people who still haven’t been able to properly grieve the loss of their loved ones.

Too many families are getting to the end of their supplies, knowing that they might not be able to fill their fridge next month. Children don’t have the opportunity to continue their studies. Businesses don’t know when or how they’ll be able to re-start their normal operations.

Personality responsibility after lockdown involves an awareness of all of these issues. It means understanding that all of us have the possibility and the responsibility of doing something for others.

Generosity, proactive empathy, and the ability to innovate and come up with survival strategies for living in the world with coronavirus are everyone’s responsibilities.

A woman taking responsibility after lockdown.

Self-awareness and individual responsibility after lockdown

Your values and your ability to reflect on what’s happening around you is what nourishes self-awareness. That, in turn, makes it possible to turn your gaze outward, connect with other people, and know what to do. Individual responsibility after lockdown involves understanding what norms govern our society now and committing yourself to following them as much as possible.

Maybe you’re already doing all of this. Maybe it comes naturally to you. But there are clearly some people who are struggling mightily with following even the most basic guidelines. You can see people in the news every day who seem to have forgotten that we’re living with a virus that’s killing thousands of people every day, all over the world. Perhaps it’s because they just don’t have a real sense of the risk to themselves and others. Or maybe their longing for life before the pandemic is stronger than any sense of personal responsibility.

There are plenty of reasons why people act irresponsibly and put others at risk. Being community-minded involves moving beyond your own selfishness. It’s understanding that you’re not an island, but rather part of a social group whose survival depends on everyone committing to caring for and protecting others.

The complicated balance between rights, responsibilities, and a sense of proactive empathy

In today’s context, we have two options. The first is complaining about all the things that have been taken away: the right to go out, to see friends, to travel, to open up stores, to hug and kiss, to eat at a restaurant. The other option is to quit complaining and practice proactive empathy.

The ability to feel and express empathy is what makes us human. Empathetic people understand the situation and base their behavior on what’s good for the collective. You protect yourself, of course, but you’re also able to go further than that by being part of the real transformation that the world so badly needs right now. Let’s all take a moment to think about our responsibility to live in such a way that we’ll be able to move forward safely, with everyone’s well-being in mind.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.