Yesterday, my youngest sang Hamilton songs while doing dishes. (We’re late to the Hamilton party, but glad to finally understand the hype.) After singing “Look around, look around, how lucky we are to be alive right now”, he looked at me and said, “or maybe not!”
We are in a sh**storm of weirdness with a new crisis everyday, but it is actually a wonderful time to be alive.
Though hard to see through the news, think of all the good things that have emerged in the last 20 years. Think of what people can do now that they never were able to do or be. Think about the possibility for knowledge and change.
There has always been (unfortunately) oppression, violence, and inequality accompanying the plight of daily survival. The world was big enough, and technology ‘small’ enough, that people knew mostly their immediate circumstances.
Now, we know about a massive explosion in Beirut in a matter of seconds. With video from every angle as people post from their phones. We now see everything that was once hidden or distant. It’s heartbreaking and fascinating at the same time. We can understand that patterns and behaviors aren’t new, yet we may be seeing them for the first time.
We know about everything with constant updates and endless opinions!
When my boys were younger, I stopped watching the news all together. It was too much. I’ve come to realize I’m super sensitive. If I don’t set good boundaries, then my brain and body take on the weight of every negative news story. Plus, life was more exhausting with two energetic and intense children.
That’s one way to protect yourself. Block it out.
In doing so, we may feel shamed around privilege. In that, if we can block out what’s going on, then our privilege hurts others. Our silence maintains the status quo. While this is true and I’ve been guilty of it, I also understand the idea of capacity. If you are struggling with what’s going on with your kids, household, and life, there’s nothing left to help others.
Expectations are high for people who want to make positive changes in the world. I know this is you.
(If people don’t care, and it’s clear there are lots of people who don’t, they’re doing just fine. They’re not carrying the weight of every school shooting or the Covid death toll. They’re still doing whatever they do.)
I know you care deeply, and that’s your super power. (It’s helpful to treat it as such!) Also, you know that you can’t make the impact you want when you’re 1) totally depleted, and/or 2) shamed for not doing everything perfect all the time.
Can we be done with trying to do everything perfect all the time?
This exercise, which I’m finally getting around to, is what I do when I start to spin into overwhelm. (Overwhelm is another kind of oppression IMO, but that’s another blog.) You may have done it before, but you can do this a million times and it still helps.
The Brain Dump: Worry Edition
1. Get your journal, notebook, or any piece of paper big enough to hold what’s in your head.
2. Without censoring or second-guessing, write down EVERYTHING you’re worried about (self, kids, family, country, world). Everything that scares you, keeps you up at night, and makes you want to crawl in a hole to hibernate till it’s all over.
3. Take a moment to allow yourself to FEEL the emotions and fear that come up when you read your list. This seems counterintuitive, but resisting the feelings actually makes anxiety worse. Grab tissue if needed and pay attention to how it all feels in your body. Where does the fear live?
4. Let yourself take a nap. Or a walk. Or dance or sing or wiggle the parts of you where fear resides. Whatever works. Feeling the feelings is one thing, living in the feelings is quite another. Feel, let go.
5. When you can come back to your brain dump, ask yourself for each thing (and write down the answers):
What can I do, directly or indirectly, to impact this situation positively?
6. Now overwhelm might arise, because there’s so much you’re thinking you *should* be doing. Feel where that overwhelm lives in your body, then ask yourself this question:
What ONE thing can I focus on that will impact numerous worries at once?
There may be an obvious answer. Or maybe not. See what arises over the next day or so.
7. Focus only on that ONE thing and remind yourself that your actions are making a bigger impact than you can see at this moment.
That’s it! At first, this exercise might feel awkward or even make you MORE anxious. Sit with those feelings. Appreciate them. You are someone who cares and wants to make a positive impact! Revisit the exercise. See what comes up, and take action accordingly. This doesn’t solve everything, of course, but by doing it, you ensure you’re acting from intention.
If you’re not sure what to do from this point, or if you’d like help working through this exercise, I’d love to coach you through it. You can sign up for a free consult here!