When 2020 began, I am pretty sure nobody expected that it would be like this.
Three specific matters on the national stage are holding people’s attention:
The COVID-19 pandemic. Most of the developed nations of the world are getting this under control. Not the US. Nope, between entitled morons unwilling to take precautions and screaming about a violation of their liberties, and government leaders who care more about elections, profits, and the economy — the death toll is needlessly climbing. It is surreal, disturbing, and mind-boggling for anyone who cannot fathom denying science and reason so blatantly.
Systemic racism. There are still protests ongoing because of continued police brutalities. Armed white protestors disrupting things? They can just march. Unarmed black protestors? Break out the tear gas and rubber bullets. That, right there, is a perfect example of the ongoing issue. Police forces overreact and do not police their own. That’s why the Black Lives Matter movement is protesting. This is all ludicrous and needs to change.
Politics. Donald Trump cares only about Donald Trump. He doesn’t give a shit about anyone else — unless they prop HIM up. The GOP continues to kowtow to him, even though his actions are tearing the fabric of the nation apart. He’s a liar, racist, and likely committing treason through his continued collusion with Russia. The system of checks and balances is failing because the GOP also doesn’t give a shit about anyone — only their “power.”
That’s the national front. There are other world issues causing confusion, uncertainty, and fear, too.
It’s easy to look at these. It is much harder to look at our personal lives and how this impacts us.
Everyone’s life has been disrupted
Whether the pandemic caused you to be put in lockdown or to work harder with extra safety precautions (hopefully provided to you by your employer), your life has been effected.
Parents stuck home-schooling when schools were closed; jobs going remote that previously you were told couldn’t; restaurants, stores, and other regular aspects of life closed down; all of these have shifted your life in one way or another.
For some, they just want it all to go back to how it was. I’m sorry if this is harsh — but it won’t. Life will not return to how it was before this.
Many people cannot accept this truth. So they resist, deny the reality of the situation, refuse to wear masks or social distance, and the United States looks incredibly stupid to the rest of the world. And, frankly, we are.
I can’t convince someone who won’t wear a mask that they need to. No matter the science or math or true facts presented — if they have formed an opinion they will not release or change — they won’t budge.
If someone cannot see their own racist behaviors inherent in the system, I can try to show them facts and figures — but odds are it will fall on deaf ears.
Trump’s supporters are as out of touch with reality as he is.
All of our lives have been disrupted and impacted in one way or another. While you can and should strive to do the right thing, vote, support those who are marginalized, and follow WHO and CDC guidelines to flatten the curve — you can’t make anyone else do the same. Because the only one you CAN change is yourself.
Running out of cope
Everyone is indeed feeling the effects of this chaotic and uncertain world. In the United States, it has now been 4 months plus since life drastically changed in reaction to COVID-19. In a nation always on the lookout for instant gratification and a quick fix, that’s too damned long.
Since the present administration only cares about numbers and dollars, they have ceded their leadership role and allowed opinion to dictate policy, rather than science and reason. Hence, without a directive for reasonable action from the top — we have what we have now. Entitled idiots crying foul when told to wear a mask into a store.
Don’t even get my started on the levels of hypocrisy in all of this.
It is scary, infuriating, maddening, depressing, frustrating, and riddled with uncertainty — often all at once. Because people are getting antsy, it is summer, and lots of the things that are “normal” for life are not — coping skills are stretching thin.
Tempers are flaring easily. Lots of people are quickly frustrated, distressed, and out of patience. Social distancing is taking a toll in more ways than one, as extroverts are feeling majorly cooped up and introverts are tired of whining and freaked-out extroverts.
Cope seems to be a finite thing. On the broad scale of the world, that’s true. But when it comes to your ability to cope, you have the power to alter it.
Finding and creating coping mechanisms
There are always coping mechanisms to be found. But like most things in life, it’s up to you to choose them.
The best way to do so? Practice mindfulness. Becoming conscious and aware — in the now — of your thoughts, feelings, and actions grants you a level of control over them.
Yes, outside influences like those mentioned at the beginning of this article will impact these. But you are still the only one inside your head. Hence, you can control what’s happening in there.
Most of the coping mechanisms I have seen or employed myself are fairly simple. The following is a list of ideas — but by no means the end-all-be-all of options. I’ve no doubt you can think of some I have not.
· Mediation. Though not for everyone, the practice can be calming and help you to cope.
· Lessen social media time. I’ve snoozed many people on Facebook and taken time away for my mental health.
· Exercise. I have a new Fitbit that reminds me every hour to walk at least 250 steps. Every exercise — from stretching to a brief walk — provides an opportunity to reset your cope.
· Laugh. Find something that makes you laugh. It’s amazing how this can change your mood.
· Breathe. Deep breathing for a few minutes every couple of hours offers an opportunity to reset and gain more cope.
· Talk to someone. Whether it’s face-to-face, via Zoom, Google Meet, or on the phone — conversation opens you more than just texting can. It’s always good to have a sounding board.
All of these are ways that you can build up your ability to cope with a mad, mad world.
Don’t lose hope
Because the world won’t be how it was before the pandemic, and other upheavals ongoing, many people are losing hope. The present has seldom been so messy and the future so uncertain. Many people can only see darkness ahead.
I can’t think, feel, or act for you. Further, I am not able to change your mindset/headspace/psyche other than to offer suggestions for you to employ — or not.
But I can tell you that you are not alone. Everyone is in this together. We are not in the same boat, but we sure as hell are weathering the same storm. Despite the insanity, uncertainty, and fear — I believe we WILL come out on the other side.
I also believe that the other side can be better. Yes, we are seeing a great many racists, homophobes, bigots, and entitled people show their true colors. But I believe this is their last gasp because they are on the wrong side of progress — and know it. Many are loud and wealthy — but they are truthfully fewer in number.
On the grand scale, you can vote, support what you believe in, attend protests, and take a stand for progress. More personally, you can be mindful of what you are thinking, what and how you are feeling, and the intent of actions you are taking. That will help you find and/or create cope to continue to work through this crazy, uncertain timeline.
Be kind to yourself and others. Be empathetic to yourself and others. Show compassion for yourself and other people.
Everyone is feeling the effects of this chaotic and uncertain world. Yet we can work together to maintain our hope, to find and create ways to help progress, and do the best we can to cope.
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 what we do to cope with an uncertain world.