This week I have had many conversations with clients about the intensifying energy of fear and anger that is pervading their lives - personally, locally, nationally, and globally. People have, naturally, had a variety of reactions to the energy of the times, from shutting down to shouting back, donating to causes or candidates or angrily spewing their perspective to anyone who will listen. Some have had their anxiety flare up while for others their personal resolve has never been stronger.
We have all had and witnessed reactions all over the spectrum. Regardless, the energy of hurt, fear, and anger is loud and seemingly insurmountable. I have found myself coming back to a few key things to help guide us all through these proverbial rough waters.
Ensure your own safety This is primary. Do what you have to make sure you are safe. Take the precautions necessary to be sure that you and yours have the basics of food, water, clothing, shelter, and warmth.
Stay informed, but do not feed the mass of fear and anger Covering much of the country these days is a large amorphous blob of fear. This fuels anger. It is common to want to engage in discussion - online or in person - and do so in good faith, with clear intentions and an open heart. However, it is very easy to get pulled into that blob of anger and fear. If you feel yourself getting riled up from a deep place where the heavier, baser emotions are dominating your experience of the news, of yourself, and of life, that's a good time to step away, and reground in the energy of soul, of Mother Nature, of love, and of compassion.
Know what is yours to affect, and what is not It is easy to be overwhelmed when seeing so much of the world on literal and metaphorical fire. From this space of overwhelm come two common behaviors. One is to try and do everything - make every phone call, donate to every candidate, shout from the rooftops your point of view, march down to city hall and demand change, work to out-shout your neighbors and the talking heads on the television. The other is to sit back in a space of despair or resignation, where you assume the futility of any and all action to make any substantive change in the world. What I recommend is to find a middle ground, where you recognize what is under your control and what is not, and tend to what you can. a. Look internally and address any disharmony that exists in your own heart. Where are the places you are unable to find compassion, forgiveness, and acceptance for yourself? Where are you stuck in a place of fear or resentment or judgment? How can you provide genuine healing, relief, comfort, and love towards yourself? b. Consider your words and actions. Are you spreading compassion, love, joy, or just trying to out-yell the other side? c. Vote. Make your vote count.
Disengage when needed We all need a break sometimes. It is healthy to completely disengage from the intensity of life. Go for a hike. Watch mindless TV. Read a book. Lay in the grass and stare up at the clouds. Disengaging is not the same as not caring. It is restorative. Breaks are necessary. That's why we have nights. Rest and action are not opposites. The are complements. The more rested we are, the clearer we will think and act, and the more patient we will be.
Feed the counter narrative of love, light, and hope. Fighting anger with anger does not resolve the conflict. Sure, there may be times when one person's anger is so loud and dominating it will bring about a quiet. But that is only a temporary reprieve. The other side will always come back, and do so with greater animosity and vengeance. The only long-term solution to ending the cycle of anger and violence and destruction is to approach with love and care and shared humanity. I implore you to find ways to express love and optimism and hope and postivity.
Just as the night time sky is all black, it is the stars which shine. The stars draw us to them. It is the stars that give us stories and folklore. The stars give us wonder.
In a sea of darkness, be a star. This encourages others to shine too. One star shining in the darkness inspires others. And one star does not destroy all the darkness, but it does brighten the area around it, and encourages others to do the same. Together, as individual points of light, we can puncture the blanket of darkness and help us all move towards morning.