I don’t know about you, but I am feeling pretty weary of late.
On every level of my existence, I am seeing vast swaths of negativity, uncertainty, frustration, and general distress. Almost everyone is at, near, or past their personal breaking point.
What does that mean? It means it takes very little to get you upset. To set you off. The slightest provocation gets you unreasonably angry, upset, sad, or some combination of these and other negative emotions.
The stories of a nation under siege by selfish, ignorant, unkind, and uncaring assholes is where it starts (for me, at least). That has been exposing a whole lot of people’s dark sides. I am increasingly seeing people show their racism, sexism, homophobia, and numerous other “isms.”
It is good that these people are being exposed. It is also good that they are not being allowed to continue to get away with their behavior. However, some then go one step further.
Rather than show appreciation for an act of inclusivity, if it is not totally perfect it gets called out. “Yeah, that was good — but it could have been better.” It’s one thing to do this privately — that’s another matter. It’s quite another to do it online.
More than once I have suggested being more accepting of the imperfections of your allies. Keep your focus and attention on the opposition — and calmly, politely, privately help your allies improve.
When we are all at our breaking points because the world is a fucking mess, calling out the imperfection of your allies doesn’t help anyone. In the long run, it’s better to have a vocal imperfect ally helping rather than a silent imperfect ally avoiding undue scorn.
Step back; step away
As I took my walk around the neighborhood this morning, I had this sinking feeling in my chest. A sense of dis-ease I am finding harder and harder to shake.
I asked myself “What are you thinking about?” I started to think about Trump and his asshole administration and their continued destruction of my home country; selfish idiots refusing to wear masks and spreading the virus; horrible business leaders forcing their people back to work even though it’s not safe; teachers afraid for their lives; friends getting easily offended and then lashing out at one another over relatively unimportant matters.
Then I asked myself, “What can I do about that?” Well, I can blog about topics that might have an impact on these matters; I can support worthy causes in various ways; protest when and if appropriate; vote in November; try to remind my friends that we are friends and looking for slights that don’t necessarily exist guarantees you will find them (no, I am not saying ignore problematic situations — I am saying stop lashing out at imperfect allies publicly — because they are allies.)
Apart from that, there’s nothing I can do.
Recognizing this, all I can do is step back and/or step away for the sake of my mental health.
Getting angry, frustrated, and annoyed — especially at people I care about — helps nobody. I cannot change anyone but me.
If my mental health is taking a beating from all these external stimuli, it’s time to step back and/or step away — and change focus.
Applying mindfulness to yourself
It is impossible to deny that the world is going crazy right now. The problem is, with very few exceptions, there is little to nothing I can do for anyone else.
Even when I see my friends being snippy, getting far too easily offended, and sometimes going off on ridiculous quests, I can’t do anything about it. I know that if I say something (i.e. commenting on a Facebook post or comment), chances are it will just set them off further — and paint the target on myself.
Hence why it is time to step back and/or step away. HOWEVER — this is not about voiding, denying, neglecting, or putting on rose-colored glasses. This is about shifting my focus internally.
I can only control myself. The only person I can change is me. That begins internally. To do that I need to be more mindful.
Mindfulness is the intentional act of becoming conscious of your thoughts, feelings, and actions. When you are aware of the consciousness of these, you pull yourself free of your subconscious mind.
Why does that matter? Your subconscious mind soaks up everything it receives without filters. Over time, you overstimulate and overwhelm it — and the feeling of weariness, frustration, and being ready to lose your shit at the drop of a hat occurs.
When you become aware, in the here-and-now, of what you are thinking, what and how you are feeling, and the intent of actions you are taking — you can make adjustments to be less weary and steer away from that breaking point.
But sometimes, to do this, you need to step back and/or step away.
How do you step back and/or step away?
There are lots of options for this, but I suggest these among them:
· Take a break from social media.
· Snooze that friend and their constant commentary.
· Avoid the news for a day or two.
· Practice self-talk to keep from saying something you might regret later.
· Pause frequently for deep breathing. Take two minutes of doing nothing but breathing deeply in-and-out to focus.
· Break your routine. Do something different to experience different stimuli.
· Ask yourself questions to be conscious of your thoughts, feelings, and actions.
· Take time for yourself.
· Give yourself permission.
That last is probably the hardest. Because of a far-too-wide definition of selfishness, giving yourself permission to do things for yourself feels wrong. It can feel selfish. However, if you do not take care of your mental health, your physical health WILL be impacted.
I want to fight the good fight. It is part of my nature to strive to do good for other people and to work on making this world a better place. However, if I am weary, quick to anger, and snappish — I won’t be terribly effective.
Taking some time to step back and/or step away allows me to regenerate my energy. That, in turn, provides me rest for my weary mind, which will hopefully lessen the ease with which I feel I could snap at people.
When it comes to present circumstances and your mental health, pausing to reflect might be wise. But only you know what is best for you. I can make this suggestion — acting upon it is your choice to make.
Pause. Reflect. Consider. Do what’s best for you.
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 doing what you need for your mental health.