Because the pandemic has been a collective ordeal, we're all aware of the various effects it's had on people everywhere. For many of us this has translated into developing more compassion for others and ourselves. We may be cutting people slack for taking longer than usual to return our calls, or lessening expectations for them to perform at their best because, well, we're in a pandemic. Anecdotally, supervisors in workplaces appear to be more motivated to establish boundaries with their staff so nobody ends up experiencing burnout, says Karen Dobkins, PhD, professor of psychology at the University of California San Diego and director of the Human Experience and Awareness Lab (HEALab).

But what could happen to this compassion, this shared understanding of common humanity, once we enter the post-pandemic era? Stephanie Preston, PhD, professor of psychology at the University of Michigan, believes since we've all endured a traumatic event, it's unlikely compassion will completely dissipate as we move further from the intensity of the pandemic—but the degree of compassion we have for each other may waver and vary.

We forget about the experience over time.

“The pandemic has changed the way we think about work and workers, as people who are not just data processing machines, but people embedded in rich lives that often have great complexity and difficulty. “I think we understand that more now, and I think that will carry forward,” Preston says. But, as Preston and Dobkins explain, this understanding carries on to the extent that people can remember what it felt like to suffer and the gratefulness they felt when the suffering was over. As with anything, after enough time has passed and life returns to the way it was, that shared experience (the good and the bad) becomes less vivid.

Read the full article at Real Simple.