It definitely has been a rough year for the planet, and I have felt it keenly. It seems that everywhere on this globe is in a very strange flux; domination and aggression, xenophobia, racism, denial of truth – all these awful parts of the darkest aspects of human nature are suddenly being allowed into the light.This is not progress. There are far more intelligent people than me out there reporting on the why and how this is being allowed to happen, and I will not do any justice in trying to do the same. What I will share is how I cope with this. How I structure my reactions to these people to keep myself sane, and the ways in which I help as best I can – all whilst ensuring that my quality of mental health does not suffer
The fact is that people are scared, and these terrible attributes are a cry for help. I am in no way saying that this is ok; I am routinely disgusted and horrified by some peoples coping mechanisms. Frightened and powerless individuals are scared of change. They are scared of humans that are different to them in any way – be it race, gender or religious background. They have not had the opportunity to learn and understand about the world, or they have not desired to. They are essentially stunted individuals, unable to accept new ways of thinking or learning. And this makes me feel compassion for them. It is a strange compassion – tinged with disgust and anger – but I cannot imagine a life where I shut myself off from possibility. The day we stop being open to new information is the day we die. It is the day we stop living as humans and begin as robots.
Key to keeping myself positive in this current world climate is keeping myself interested in new ideas. I read a lot, I talk to people and I try to learn as much as I can. It is easy to disengage from those of a different opinion – especially online where the arguments dissolve so quickly and cruelly. Knowing when to make a graceful exit with a closed mind has been a key learning point for me. But I believe it is essential to keep talking to each other. Everybody has lived a different life, and that is fascinating to me.
However, I also ensure that I get off time. For me, that is time away from my computer, phone and humans. It is a time that I spend reflecting, journaling and writing. We need downtime to assimilate new ideas – and we don’t get it anymore. We are all so “busy” rushing from engagement to engagement. This achieves nothing except exhaustion. I spend a lot of time in nature, just thinking. I wonder if more world leaders were encouraged to spend time in self-reflection if things would be different.
Another non-negotiable for me is meditation. Every morning for thirty minutes I meditate, and the world becomes a calmer, more connected place for me. It helps me to understand how I feel about a lot of things.
A big one for me is limiting where I allow my news to come from. With so much fake news and hacking going on, I only get the headlines from one trusted, vetted news source. I don’t want sensationalist headlines filled with anger. I just want the facts and nothing else. I am very careful about the links I click on facebook – anything from a non-major news source doesn’t get a second in my brain. I wish more people would think about the sources of their information these days. Any monkey with a computer can write. Just like this monkey…
Surrounding myself with my loved ones is key to reminding myself that the world isn’t all bad. Those who shout the loudest get the most airtime, but they aren’t the majority. We need to remember that – there are huge amounts of brave, loving fighters out there who believe in progress. All is never lost!
I am of the belief that humans are hard-wired to require and need love. As powerless infants, we require the love of parents and community to keep alive. And this is the power that is the strongest in all of us. Some of us have lost their way through fear, and it is the community’s job to educate and attempt to allay their terror through love.
The only thing that is certain in life is that everything changes. So this will pass too.