Podcast – Episode 0322 – Keeping Calm When The World Is In Chaos

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In this episode, Joel and Antonia walk through the tension between personal responsibility and external burden as it relates to our personality.

In this podcast you’ll find:

  • Why is the pandemic so anxiety producing?
  • How can we mitigate the effects of anxiety?
  • How this affects our perceiving function more than our decision making one.
  • Looking at the pandemic through a systems thinking lens.
  • Some perspectives from Joel and Antonia as Exploration (Ne) users.
  • How do maps and models provide a helpful lens?
  • The concept of “black-box thinking”
  • Looking at the pandemic and the world’s reaction through The Tribal Leadership Model – find out previous podcast on Dave Logan’s model
    • A view of tribal levels 3 and 4 – and how current events could move us up to level 4
  • Thoughts around sustainability, reliance and being community focused, combined with globalization as ways of working through the pandemic.
  • Why cord cutting from society’s collective anxiety might help highly sensitive people (HSPs)
  • How have we built our lives to be reliant on systems?
    • The effect this has on our self esteem
    • What is our level of dependency and how can we become more interdependent?
    • What skills and knowledge can we learn?
  • A look at our current cycle and timeline, according to the Generational Theory model presented in The Fourth Turning: An American Prophecy – What the Cycles of History Tell Us About America’s Next Rendezvous with Destiny by William Strauss
  • How can models help us organise the world and make good decisions?
  • The safety and security level of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs – and how this relates to the pandemic
  • The importance of healthy routines and taking care of yourself


In this episode Joel and Antonia talk about ways to keep calm in the midst of chaos. #coronavirus #covid19


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Showing 18 comments
  • Michael

    Routines are so important.

    As an ISTJ, my routine is keeping me sane. I was lucky enough to structure my schedule (law school) around having classes only 1 day a week so that I could actually get my work done during the week. Because I was able to set this up, I have been fortunate enough to keep most of my daily routine very much the same since I started social distancing. I really agreed with your practical advice to maintain a routine, and I just wanted to add that it has been super helpful in my experience.

    Also, the personal note at the end of the episode was so incredibly heartfelt and really resonated with me. Thank you for everything you do at Personality Hacker. Turning this situation into an “opportunity” and chance to work on self-sufficiency, interdependency, and self-confidence is such a strong, empowering message. 🙂

    P.S. – While I have not bought 11 copies of your book (only 1), I have sent more links to your podcast to my friends since we have been social distancing. (I send 0019, then 0020, and the episode on their personality type after having them take a test or two.)

    • Charis Branson

      Hi Michael! Thanks for the comment and for being a valuable member of the community.

  • Simone

    Thank you for your wisdom during this time. It’s especially important to think of those who do not have the resources to ride out this pandemic (I’m an INFP and an HSP, so I’m pretty sensitive to these things). I’m deeply troubled by the cavalier attitude some people, who call themselves therapists, are taking. They are even spreading conspiracy theories about the virus and are whining more about their freedoms taken away than about the lack of respirators available to those who need them. Thank you again for your work.

    • Charis Branson

      Thanks for your comment, Simone! The energies the last few weeks have been pretty crazy. I’m noticing that I have to steer clear of social media and a lot of the news outlets or I get really discouraged. I hope you find some tools to keep your spirits up! <3

  • Josephine

    Hi Antonia and Joel, I’m a junior in college, and an ENFP, and I’ve been listening to PH for over a year. I’ve never commented before on a podcast, but I had to leave something because it’s so inspirational how you guys are able to transform such a difficult situation into a positive message. My classes have been canceled and mostly everyone I know has been losing it a little and you guys are just able to bring everything into perspective, as usual of course. You make some really good points about how this is gonna affect the world for the better! Thank you for what you’re doing, now more than ever.

    • Charis Branson

      Thank you, Josephine, for sharing your thoughts with us! We value you as a member of the community. <3

  • Izzy

    Being a SP lead, I’ve been preparing for this for years😀

    I make all my own cleaning/body products, I have months worth of dehydrated fruits and vegetables so I have snacks to last us for a year or so, a cupboard full of cut up baby grows and clothes that I use as cloths to clean and wash the dishes so I’m totally fine if the toilet paper situation gets much worse.
    Doing and making these things wasn’t necessarily for an incoming apocalypse but for environmental and financial purposes…. also just making things and providing for myself makes me happy.

    I live in a fairly small town in the south west of England that is pretty community oriented.
    Restaurants and cafes have closed but the majority of them are offering a delivery service (too rural for Uber here). The supermarkets remain open but are running quite low on supplies, as well as no toilet paper I have been unable to get nappies so I am trying to use quarantine productivity and currently undertaking potty training (not myself obviously).

    The schools officially closed today. People that run yoga/dance classes etc have moved them online so that they can still run the classes for their clients. People are doing shopping runs for the elderly and vulnerable members of the community.

    As it’s pretty rural, there are plenty of places for us to going walking in nature.
    For now we are doing ok, I take one day at a time and try not to overthink how things are going to turn out, at least until I get used to our new routine.

    If you’re going to advocate for people to use the PH book for toilet paper, I suggest you offer complimentary butt cream with sales or you could face law suits…. that sounds painful😬

    Sending good vibes to the both of you too!

    • Charis Branson

      Haha! The way toilet paper has become so scarce, we may all be using alternative sources of TP. That will be the next thing to go endangered – butt cream. Maybe we should start buying it by the case? 😉

  • Chrissy

    I enjoy every podcast and have purchased two of your books, one as a gift to a friend. Just tossing in the mix that I have embraced the perspective you shared today about the virus. But I’m struggling with it even as I decide it’s probably the”right” one for me.

    We have to all do our part because it is important to keep people well so that we don’t overwhelm the hospitals and cause people who need to care to not be able to receive it.

    When my son uses a very sharp knife to chop onions for our chili dinner tonight I think, “Gosh, don’t cut your finger off bc we can’t go to the hospital!”

    Social distancing is the avenue / perspective I am choosing bc I think it’s “right” – humane – to do for our greater good.

    But I am struggling internally and believing it is ineffective. (It doesn’t help that I know many people are ignoring CDC recommendations.)

    Here’s the meat of what I want to / am scared to share: Part of me can’t help flaring up with (…and I am sorry to admit this, so please be gentle in any replies…) “So, we are basically cratering our economy and the fiber of our daily lives to save people who will die within a decade or two anyway?”

    I wish I didn’t have this thought. It doesn’t come up for my husband who KNOWS the stopping of daily life as we know it is the right thing to do. I can’t help thinking this is kinda the wrong approach – not because I think I won’t get it – I don’t know why but I am not really afraid of death – but because it won’t really work… people aren’t taking the task to separate seriously. And so we will get a lukewarm mix of cratered economics and continued covid-19.

    Two weeks disruption is one thing, but months and months of social distancing? Losing our jobs? Kids without sports and school? I feel like I can’t take this for months on end.

    And yet, if I were to callously accept the little voice in me just quoted, I would anticipate thinking a thought one year from now that says to myself, “Wow, you were willing to let people die so you could keep your money and routines. What is a life for if it’s just for your own comforts and control?”

    Just sharing that I am struggling with this. Hope I conveyed it clearly. Thanks

    • Ty

      First of all, I don’t think you’re evil to ask those kinds of questions. Fi/Te is a dichotomy for a reason- we NEED that balance. Furthermore, in the present world, I think it’s kind of brave to admit that you’ve got that tension inside of you.

      Let me throw in a perspective that eases that tension for me. This pandemic proves that our society- as it is currently set up- is not sustainable. We could collectively hold our breaths and let 8-15% of the elderly die and then go back to life as normal. But then what? What about when the next pandemic comes? And it _will_. That one may not target the elderly. That one may be way more deadly, may move quicker, or may wipe out our youngest generations.

      I think based on factors like over-population, our ability to easily move all around the planet now, and the rate at which viruses can evolve vs. the rate at which we can counter them- there’s a good chance we could see another, much worse, pandemic within the next 100 years. These are real systemic issues that will not go away, and we might as well address them now, because the next pandemic might not be so forgiving as this one is.

      So, in my mind, this response is encouraging. We’re still willing as a species to make changes, we’re willing to try something different, to temporarily pull apart and rebuild our systems into better lemonade makers when reality is flooding us with lemons.

      We cannot keep doing what we’ve already been doing and expect this to be solved in any kind of real way. It will simply come up again. If we have to adapt either way within the near future, we might as well do it now and try to save some lives in the process.

    • Charis Branson

      Hi Chrissy! Thank you for your comment. It is hard to share a thought that may bring negative feedback. It has been a couple of weeks since you left the comment, however, so I’m sure you have seen that the numbers of affected people aren’t limited to the elderly alone. From what I’ve observed, a lot of midlifers are dying.

      Sometimes the government knows more than they let on because, when they do let on, panic ensues. Following the rules of social distancing requires a level of trust in our gov’t (I’m speaking specifically of the US) and Americans, in general, don’t feel much trust for their gov’t, right now. I’m glad you followed the rules of social distancing even when it was inconvenient. The current explosion of cases in the US shows that a lot of people didn’t follow your good example.

  • Aisha Musa

    Hi, I love your work and thank you for this podcast. Your discussion of reliance on systems to solve our problems for us is an important one. We need to think about the role of systems and our mature (maturing?) roles within them. The example of the young woman who was uncomfortable because of male competitiveness in her environment is an example, in my view, highlights a serious problem in how the role of systems is understood. Contrast that example with instances in which secretaries were chased around desks, which was commonly joked about half a century ago. That was a problem within the system. Have you thought of doing a podcast comparing these understandings of systems, their roles in our lives, and our roles within them?

  • Erik Bland

    While I certainly agree with the support given here for self-sufficiency, I think caution should be taken in implementing strategies to ensure one’s own self-sufficiency. I say this as a self-preservation primary (Enneagram).

    The way our world works currently (atleast in industrialized regions), I don’t think complete independence is possible without a resorting to a very rudimentary lifestyle. Such a lifestyle might be necessary at times, and being capable of it would be awesome. But we’re not in those times yet, and it is extremely unlikely that we will be at any time during this crisis.

    I certainly agree with the value in learning survival skills. But I don’t want to encourage people to prematurely use them in ways that are selfish – e.g. hoarding materials, overhunting or overfishing in response to a panic. That said, I don’t think there’s a problem with keeping a garden or learning new skills, for example.

    I think it’s perhaps more useful to come to terms with our own fears regarding our dependence. Yes, we rely on our societies for foods, vaccines and antibiotics, phones, electricity, etc. No one person can provide all of these things for themselves. No amount of self-preservation skill development will provide us with all of these things. Instead, we need to realize that we are each a part of this system. It isn’t that we take from the community, but rather that we are a part of the community that supplies these things for everyone. We are each a contributor rather than a helpless beneficiary.

    TLDR – I agree: plan ahead, learn survival skills, and become accepting of a little bit of discomfort. But don’t do so out of fear, and try to avoid falling into a ‘me vs. everyone else’ mentality.

    • Antonia Dodge

      I’m surprised that was the message we conveyed, as it certainly wasn’t our intent our outlook.

      Quite honestly, I don’t think I even could be fully self-sufficient in the way you’re articulating without years of skill development (nor do I think most of us could be). Neither Joel or I is self-pres first (he’s sp repressed, I’m sp second), so this is more of a “hey, maybe we should at least acknowledge how dependent we are on these systems and take stock of the situation” rather than a call for all out Mad Max panic. Which would not be ‘keeping calm’. :p


      • Erik Bland

        Sorry, I didn’t intend to sound negative!

        When I heard you guys promoting self-sufficiency, I think I imagined people using it as an excuse to hoard resources, or take other isolationist or highly selfish actions. That said, I know you also encouraged people not to do that at the start of the podcast.

        I certainly agree with the overall message of becoming aware of our dependencies, addressing them (as much as is reasonable), and minimizing panic.


        • Antonia Dodge

          I get it! At one point in the podcast when we talk about people hoarding TP and other things I say, “Those people are dicks” cause I totally agree with you. 😀


  • Martina

    Hi! Thank you for putting my thoughts of last days in words:) I am from Europe, in my country situation is for now rather ok, but it is interesting how people’s reactions are similar here and in USA, even jokes on toilet paper:) I don’t have 11 copies of your book, but after this podcast I will highly consider it.
    Btw. Antonia’s intro on why it is important to be cauotious was simply the best…I even heard Tina Turner’s song around me…If it is not beautiful example of Accuracy and Harmony going developed hand to developed hand (one bigger and one smaller hand:) in ENTP, I don’t know what else could be!

  • Danielle

    “Doctors don’t give out Darwin awards,” should be on a t-shirt.

    I also laughed way too hard at the idea of using copies of the Personality Hacker book as toilet paper. I needed that!

    The ending also made me tear up, in a good way, if that makes sense.

    I was also thinking back to the concept of the fourth turning the other day and how we’re really in the thick of it right now. Then I was thinking about how this sort of era has really prepared me for this moment, especially the last four years of my life (I’ve been listening to your podcast for about 3 of those years). If we use the starting date of 2008 for winter, I was 10 years old during the Great Recession and I turn 22 next week. Those previous years were at times, absolutely miserable in my personal life and/or in the world around me.

    I have this weird appreciation for it all. I wouldn’t be the person I am today if it weren’t for all of the toxic messes and general world chaos I’ve encountered. I sort of had to pull myself together in order to make it out alive and whole. I was extremely fortunate to have a small group of people who believed in me for most of, if not all of, that span of time. The world around me forced me to grow and it sped up a process that might’ve taken a lot longer otherwise. For instance, I think I was going to inevitably end up leaving the political paradigm I was raised in (and deciding to discount political paradigms in general), but the last few years expedited the process to the extent that I had one foot out the door by the time I was about 19 years old, if not about a year earlier. As an ENFP, my Fi just couldn’t tolerate it.

    A former co-worker who is about 3 years older than I am shared a meme on Facebook that said something to the effect of “This is like the 10th apocalypse I’ve survived already.” That’s obviously a hyperbole and it’s meant to make fun of how the news overhypes everything. But I also share the sentiment in that, everything will be okay in the end. It all worked out the last few times—even if I had to cut toxic people out of my life or find a new worldview. No matter how much it hurts, we’ll make it through this too. And I expect to be standing there on the other side.

    One of the most powerful pieces of advice I’ve ever heard is something my Dad told me when I was a child, “You can’t let fear rule your life. Then the people who want you to be afraid win because you’ve thrown away your time.” This echoes in my head every time something like this happens, and I find myself imparting it onto others. And it’s still my dad’s perspective to this day.

    I’m concerned about others and their safety, but I’m not consumed by it. It’s a healthy concern built from compassion and a general distaste for pain and suffering (I’m almost entirely a pacifist at this point).

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