The violence on Saturday in Charlottesville, VA, where a white supremacist protester drove his car into the opposing crowd was disturbing and shocking. Having attended the University of Virginia for undergrad myself, it was incredibly alarming and sad to think that this had happened in a place I had called home for 4 years. I also recently watched the documentary “13th” which depicts the insidious systemic racism and bigotry that has led to the mass incarcerations of blacks, Latinos, and other minorities in support of private prison labor and other corporate interests. For me, this news painted a shockingly negative, self-serving view of humanity that frankly got me down for a few days.
I am guilty of doing the on again, off again thing with the news. I’ll plug in and try to stay involved but find that the negative coverage would bring me down. I would then disengage for some time choosing ignorance in search of peace. As I become more aware however, I recognize how privileged it is for me to be able to turn a blind eye to that which is going on in the world, especially when it does affect those in my own community.
I’ve found this week particularly hard; however, I also recognize that I am not helping anybody if I succumb to the despair. The world and the number of problems are overwhelming. Where do I focus my attention first? Who do I help? How do I stay centered in times when everything feels like it’s falling apart? It is quite easy to begin to feel powerless amongst it all.
I have seen in my own experience and those of my clients that these are the times where your SELF-CARE is of PARAMOUNT importance. It’s perfectly normal to feel disengaged and depressed after all the negative news but at the same time there is no use in you taking on the suffering of the world yourself to the point that you are ineffective, neither serving your higher good nor the good of others. We live in a world that is always REACTING to the latest news. When we take on that same energy, we get stuck in our fight or flight responses, often not able to see the big picture and make more conscious and effective choices. Self-care at the most basic level is allowing that we pause to take a breath, to stand our ground instead of fighting or fleeing. In fact, since the majority of the world resides in the energy of REACTION, it is quite valiant and brave to take a breath, take a step back, and then CHOOSE how we want to show up in response.
Times of turmoil also call us to bring our VALUES to the forefront. Shocking news such as the event in Charlottesville may shake us at our core because we value equality, peace, progress, etc. It is often the absence of something that notifies us of how important it is to us. Times of turmoils can also prompt us to feel inspired and to courageous defend and live our values.
This week I have been challenging the voices in my head that tell me the world is messed up and broken. At my core, I do believe all things happen for a purpose. While it’s easy interpret that the world is full of hate, blame, and bigotry, at the same time we are also seeing a world where people are rising up in defense of love, compassion, and equality. I see it in the people around me and in my own clients – many of whom after the election for example, took a breath and found a way to defend their own values and the values of others in their own work and communities.
So while it’s easy and quite common to feel powerless in situations like these, we must also remember that we have so much power to make a difference in the communities we are a part. Through self-care, we can first alleviate our own suffering and then with more calmness of mind, we can begin to help those around us by whatever means are available and make sense to where we are at the present moment.
So now it’s your turn…
How do you find your balance in recent times? When things feel tough and out of your hands, how do you remain centered in it all?
What values are you being called to live in present moment?
How might you use self-care to serve not only to the highest good of yourself but the highest good of others?