For the first time in awhile, I do not know how to feel. 2020 has been such a terrible experience from almost every front that I no longer have adequate emotional responses to things anymore. We are all facing terrors everyday from both physical and mental fronts. We are trying to fight for our own personal safety and health at risk from a pandemic, while simultaneously fighting social injustice and corruption from the very entities that are designed to keep us safe and secure. Everyday is filled with sadness and hurt from the local to global scale. So I find myself asking…how can we go on? Why should we go on? What’s the point anymore? Will this ever end? And, I don’t know what those answers are with the same confidence I had before this wretched year began. I had to take a day to myself and really focus on my mental strength and find a way to ‘carry on’. I wanted to share my process with you in case it may help.
Disconnect from media
I was very torn with this first realization. Social media and news can be very informative and beneficial as well as fun and filled with happiness and discovery. Lately, those good aspects of media have been a small minority of the content available. I take a guarded approach to staying informed via sources that I trust and subscribe to intentionally. I still put personal limits on myself to not get lost in their grasps and attempt to maintain mindfulness while keeping up with crucial current events. I have chosen to be abstinent in my social media presence because I believe the conflict and turmoil that lies behind every post is what leads to my discomfort and stress. Choosing what to say and who to engage with is a never ending process that yields very few benefits but creates ample conflict. Get what you need, and then get out.
Prioritize what matters most
Ask yourself, “what matters most to you in this world?” The answer can vary wildly from one person to the next, but none of the answers are wrong. This question wasn’t, “what should matter to you most because society tells you?” So, whatever sincere answer you give is inherently correct. My list is family, financial stability, and community. I pondered heavily on those three items, but just about all my major concerns fall into those umbrellas. Once you have sorted out this list for yourself, the next steps become much easier.
Focus on what you can control
As mentioned, the world is a scary place in turmoil. If I get lost in all the hurt and chaos, I become a nonfunctional wreck who is no good to anybody. I endeavor to stay mindful about what I can control. I cannot fix the whole world, but I can effect change locally. I can be a leader, I can help my community grow, I can support those around me, I can be present with those I love. There is a conflict in my head that I am selfish for only caring about things in my proximity, but I find my effort is much better spent there than dissipated beyond my realm of impact.
Actions match your intentions
This is huge for me. Every action I take, I ask myself, “Does this action match my intention?” If my purpose is to effect change and make things better, then I have to really look at what I am doing to get to that goal. Does researching articles, sharing posts, and arguing with strangers really effect the change I am trying to make? How many people actually sway their opinion from a FB post? How many people go onto social media looking to change their mind versus confirm their worldview? I believe that actions taken in person with care and consideration go farther and are more successful than any campaign I’ve attempted through social media. Stand for your beliefs everyday with every action and not just from behind your screen.
Why is this so hard? See things from another's perspective. Approach diversity with patience and understanding. We are all different in so many unique and exciting ways. So, treat adversity with curiosity and kindness instead of fear and hate. What benefit does one get by hurting others? Feeling power by bringing others down is not how I want to live my life.
It is important to also keep in mind your own self-compassion. It’s easy to let stress or conflict cloud your judgement and maybe you are not your best self. Show yourself compassion and learn from your mistakes and grow.
I think the majority of my coping mechanisms all tie into mindfulness. Take those moments to truly see yourself and make sure you are the person you want to be and that you are using your time wisely to impact the things that matter to you most.