I don’t know about you — but I don’t want to watch the world burn.
Some terrible things are happening right now. The big picture issues include the politicizing of COVID-19 and the top of our government being utterly unwilling to take a stand to fix that problem. That same leadership working to widen all divides just to remain in power. Protests of systemic racism and the continued violent response of too many members of the police. The murder of black people by those same police forces because of the color of their skin. LGBTQA+ rights being stripped by the aforementioned government. The ongoing attack on equality and choice for women.
That’s national stuff. Most people are facing far more personal matters. Many jobs have been lost due to COVID-19, too many people are unwilling to practice proper social distancing or mask-wearing, and too many people are risking their lives to keep an utterly fragile and false economy up-and-running.
The physical and psychological impact of this is taking a toll on everyone, and that’s manifesting in some unpleasant ways. Tempers are short, patience is thin, and overreacting to this, that, or the other thing is becoming increasingly common.
It is all too easy to feel hopeless, sad, frightened, uncertain, terrified, angry, lost, and lots of other negative emotions. Sometimes in phases, other times in combinations, and even all-together along the way. The lack of respect for mental health as illness, remaining stigmas about it, and the lack of affordability of healthcare in the USA add a layer of complexity to an already unfortunate reality.
What can you do?
A bitter pill — there is no quick fix
Please understand, I don’t want to make this worse — but this society is obsessed with instant gratification, ever-increasing speeds, and quick fixes. However, there is no quick fix for any issues mentioned above.
The system has been in place for a long time now. Dismantling and changing it won’t happen overnight. Even a drastic shift in leadership won’t be able to instantly transform everything. Though the number of reasonable people outnumbers the unreasonable, they are still many.
Minds cannot be changed if they don’t desire to change. So all the racists, bigots, misogynists, homophobes, White Supremacists, and other haters will stick to their guns until they either die off or have an epiphany that makes them see a new way. Once they dig in, without some sort of “ah-hah” moment they won’t budge.
One reason they are so vocal and open currently is because they feel empowered and supported by Trump. He’s making it increasingly clear his followers are the only ones who matter — which is ironic since, really, they only matter to his ego. He couldn’t care less about them any more than he does about “liberals,” the press, or his other perceived enemies.
Just as much as those overarching issues will not be changed instantly, personal issues won’t either. If you are in conflict with people you care about, fighting depression, afraid, or otherwise dealing with stuff — it will take time.
That’s a bitter pill to swallow. But realistically, change of this sort takes time because beliefs and habits built over the span of decades aren’t instantly fixable. It will take less time than the decades before to make changes — but won’t be instantaneous.
Another bitter pill — there is no going back
In Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist, the protagonist is crossing the desert in the pursuit of his “personal legend.” During the crossing, a tribal war begins. The caravan he is in is in danger.
When he asks a guide about turning back, he is told,
“‘Once you get into the desert, there’s no going back,’ said the camel driver. ‘And, when you can’t go back, you have to worry only about the best way of moving forward.’”
I share this because it’s very relevant to our present reality. COVID-19 is the desert. We are in the middle of it, and we cannot turn back. All we can do is figure out the best way of moving forward.
For a lot of people, this represents tremendous uncertainty. And that is terrifying. It’s not just the usual constant motion and change of the future — it’s really clouded. The questions tend to only be followed with more questions and no clear answers.
When will it be over? How long will the first wave last? How long do we need to take precautions like social distancing and wearing masks? When will group activities resume? How will life return to some semblance of what it looked like before? What about lost jobs?
These are just some of the almost impossible to answer questions. But one thing is certain — there is no going back.
This is another bitter pill to swallow. But once you do, it allows you to make new choices and focus on how you will move forward.
When you can’t do much for anyone else and the crap they are going through — and when you cannot change anyone else’s mind or way — the best thing you can do is practice mindfulness.
Being mindful makes you conscious of the now by being aware of your thoughts, feelings, and actions. That awareness then lets you make choices and decisions for how you handle whatever is thrown your way.
While it is as simple as that, mindfulness doesn’t fully address old, deep-rooted beliefs. But it is a window into your mindset/headspace/psyche, which you can use to take control over the direction in which your life is going.
Mindfulness is an aspect of self-care. It is recognition of the only thing over which you can exert any true control: yourself.
When you are more in control over your self, you position yourself to do more for others. You can’t change anyone who has no desire to change — but you can still by an ally to the oppressed and marginalized. You can be a beacon in the dark against the forces of unreason.
With mindfulness, you can choose positivity. Even small amounts of positive things are a spoonful of sugar to make a bitter pill easier to swallow. Cliché? Yes, it is. But that makes it no less true.
We live in uncertain and fearful times. Finding and/or creating positivity can be extra challenging, but it can also open us all to a better world on the other side of this desert. That, as far as I am concerned, makes swallowing those bitter pills worthwhile.
Finding and/or creating positivity isn’t hard — but it does require thought, feeling, and action
Knowing that there is a bitter pill or two to swallow in the face of present times, recognizing that can help you move forward. When you go ahead and recognize these truths, you can then practice mindfulness to adjust where you see the world going and be a beacon of hope in the uncertainty and darkness. That ultimately empowers you.
When you feel empowered, your mindfulness increases, you become more aware overall, and that can spread to people around you. It can create a feedback loop of awareness and positivity.
As such, you can build more positive feelings and discover more reasons to feel positivity and gratitude. That can be the impetus to improve numerous aspects of your life for the better, help overcome the overwhelming negativity of the current situation, and generate yet more positivity and gratitude.
That can then spread to change the world for the better.
An attitude of gratitude is an attitude of immense positivity that can generate even more good energies — and that, like you, is always worthwhile.
Know that you are worthy and deserving of using mindfulness to find and/or create the reality in which you desire to live. When all is said and done our thoughts, feelings, and actions matter, as does working with the present reality and finding positivity to help get through and past it.
Originally published at http://titaniumdon.com on July 6, 2020.