Let's be honest 2020 has gotten off to a rough start, but what has happened the past week has really put most of us over the edge. I have been absolutely horrified watching the past weeks events unfold and Anastasia and I both just feel really sad. For me I have also been really activated and my nervous system has been in overdrive. So for anyone who is feeling overwhelmed, stressed out, sad, or angry I wanted to give some tips on how to deal with everything that has been going on and how to take care of yourself during this time.
Be with the feelings
My first piece of advice is always to be with the feelings no matter what is going on. Chances are a lot of big feelings are coming up for you, and those feelings are not always easy. However, if we push them away and don't deal with them, they become wounds that stay stuck in our psyche and can create more harm, which is something we do not need more of at this time. So set aside some time to feel whatever it is you are feeling and allow it to be there. Notice if it changes as you do too, a lot of the time we will notice a lot of anger at the surface but as we allow that to be there it begins to dissipate and becomes hurt or sadness. Just allow yourself to feel whatever is authentic to you in this moment.
Empathy is allowing yourself to feel what other people, regardless of their side on the issue, are feeling. Oftentimes when something happens that is polarizing we tend to only empathize with the side we agree with, but this only creates more division. What we need now is radical empathy that includes trying to understand all of the people who are involved. This does not mean that you need to agree with everyone on everything. What it does mean is that you try to understand where someone is coming from by trying to tap into their heart and what they are feeling. You may find that there are pieces of that person in you, which then gives you incredible insight on how you can create change within yourself so that you can then create change in the world.
Take heart centered action
Once you have begun to tap into the feelings and hearts of yourself and others, you can then begin to take action. The action you take will come solely from what you found after feeling into yourself and others. For example, if you felt hopelessness then do something that makes you feel hopeful. If you were able to feel empathy for someone who is not on “your side” and realized that you have some similar qualities as that person that just show up in different ways, go about the hard work of healing that. Or maybe you realized that you already healed something that could be helpful for others in this situation and your action is to help teach how to do that. Whatever it is that you found in your heart, take action from that place.
This is probably one of the most difficult things to do. For years, most of us have been practicing not talking about difficult and polarizing topics with loved ones. However, we need to start talking so that we can heal. Notice I am not saying that we need to argue, but that we need to have conversations. This means that we need to listen and hear each other. We need to be willing to try to understand why someone feels the way that they do and again practice empathy. Then we need to speak our truth and our hearts without yelling or being hurtful. We need to relinquish the idea that we know what is right and cultivate a beginner's mind so that we can be willing to learn and grow as a result of the conversation. Really talk to the people in your family, friend group, and community and listen to what they have to say.
When something so difficult is happening, it is even more important to practice self-care. There is a reason why we have to put our own oxygen mask on first before we can assist others. Giving to ourselves during hard times isn't selfish, it's compassionate and the only way that we can truly give to others. This doesn't mean only give to yourself, but it does mean taking time to do something that makes you feel centered and good. Maybe that's taking a walk or a bath. Maybe it's spending time (6 ft apart) with loved ones. Maybe it's reading a book for pleasure or gardening. Whatever it is that makes you feel like you are full enough to then be able to go support others, do that.
Part of practicing self-care is limiting the amount of news you are watching. This is an essential part of calming the nervous system down because there is only so much brutality we can tolerate. Now this doesn't mean ignoring what is happening in the world and turning a blind eye. What it does mean though is picking an amount of time that will allow you to watch the news or go on instagram and twitter to find out what is happening out there and also not get overwhelmed by it. For me that is 1-2 hours, for you it might be 30 minutes or 4 hours, everyone is different. It's also good to decide when you will watch. For example, I try to limit the news and the graphic images before bed because I don't want that to be the last thing I see before i go to sleep. On the other hand, you may not want it to be the first thing that you see when you wake up. Only you can know what is best for you, but once you do be strict about it.
I hope that this is helpful for you during this time. If you are still feeling really activated and need to talk to someone, please send me an email and I will happily set up a time for a session. Just know that you are not alone. Wishing you all and the world some resolution and peace.