Letting people be wrong


I am a primary care physician in a very rural community. We have not had any confirmed cases of COVID-19 in our local community, but within a 100 mile radius (which is a trip to Target or Walmart around here) there have been several confirmed cases. I’m struggling with letting people be wrong about the potential severity of widespread disease, and educating where I can, but there is pretty widespread ignorance and almost defiance about the importance of canceling events, recommendations to socially distance, etc.

I’m struggling to not jump models when I try to think intentional thoughts – for example, when I try the thought “Everyone is doing the best they can and that’s okay” I don’t stay with the feeling of compassion long before I’m overriding that with thoughts that are far less useful, “these idiots are the reason we can’t get this contained”, “I’m working so hard/long hours and it doesn’t even matter because they are out there doing exactly what there were urged not to do”, “when they get sick, then they’ll care what doctors have to say” and other very petty, not so pretty thoughts. I know I can’t sway public opinion, but this feels so important to me I’m having a hard time letting them be wrong, when my data driven, analytical brain has all the evidence for why they are undermining all the extra work the healthcare system is doing preventatively, and I’m so far in the thick of thin things I can’t see out of it. Do I need a different intentional thought? Do I just sit with the frustration? I’ve worked this in so many models its starting to feel like I’m buffering with models on this, and it’s not producing useful emotions. Thank you for your time!