We live in historic times — historically hard. Times that challenge us, and times that challenge our sanity. Just when many of us thing we couldn’t become more outraged, we are.
When it feels like the world is coming undone, yet so much is out of our control, what do we do? When it feels like our democracy is at stake but you don’t even know why or how we got here, what do YOU do?
Run away? Meet anger and outrage with more anger and outrage? Contribute to the problem without being the solution? Withdraw and become complacent?
Maybe there’s another way.
When you feel like you don’t know what to do try one of these things:
- You are a work in progress — each of us is. How do you say something affirmative about yourself, love yourself? Show compassion to yourself. Stop with the self flagellation and self congratulation. Start by respecting yourself and showing compassion toward yourself, faults and all. When we stop performing or blaming and start being, your world shifts.
- Spend 5 mins finding a Republican Senator you have some connection with. Spend two mins calling her or his office or tweeting them to tell them this isn’t about party but about democracy and our future. www.senate.gov.
- Say I love you to someone every day. Someone you know intimately, or even if it’s someone next to you in yoga class you just met or a friend who might not expect it. After all, it might be the only time they hear those words today.
- Once a day for a week, go into the comments in an angry thread on Facebook or in any news article and find something positive and constructive to say — and then say it. Shifting the tide of negativity, divisiveness and victimhood begins with individual moments and actions.
- Tell someone — or write a post or an article or a tweet about— why democracy matters to you. Tell the world what freedom means to you and what freedoms you enjoy that you might not under another system. Tell a short, affirmative story to yourself and to someone about why democracy matters to you. Collectively shift the narrative from doom and gloom to what’s at stake. When you remind yourself what you’re fighting for, it’s easier to stay motivated and be clear about what to do.
- Every time you want to run away or move to a commune or withdraw, ask yourself what’s one small thing you can do or say to make your own current situation better? Then take one step toward doing it.
- Enter every conversation that’s contentious about politics or impeachment with a clear goal. Is it to change someone’s mind? (Secret — you prob won’t be successful). Or is it to come across as thoughtful, reasonable, respectful? Or right? Eventually the example you set will prevail and it will ripple out far beyond you.
- If you feel like the world is coming apart and you’re pushing harder and harder, ask what you’re pushing against. Is it real or is it something your mind made up? Stop pushing and resisting, and instead ask what can you do to collaborate with it.
- Every time you vilify or judge someone, every time you want to share a snarky comment somewhere, share and celebrate a snarky video clip of a hero, say something nice to someone in real life. Even try a simple “hello! How are you today?”
- Every time you want to find fault with one of the candidates for president, whether of their own making or what you think she / he represents, stop — and find that’s common about all of them that you agree with. Debate is good, but it can be constructive for the process and for your own personal relationships. Find less fault, more positive attributes, less vilifying, more unifying.
- Stop promoting yourself and obsessing about yourself — your personal commentary on everything that happens or your personal connection to it. Perform less and interact more.
- Resist cancel culture in your own life as much as online: When you ask someone out or make plans with someone and they willingly say yes, and then cancel or flake or simply fall quiet, make plans with someone else and keep them — and show up 100 %. Resist the urge to perpetuate cancel culture with those in your life in real life and be there for those who matter.
And then there are all the things like running for office, volunteering, protesting (which — do those too).
The theme here? These are small things that create small ripples that turn the tide of your own life. Changing the dynamic from echo chamber and victimhood to individual power and protagonist is what we’re after.
Take control over making your own life better and making the lives of those around you better. When you see yourself less as a victim, you can help those who truly are victimized and in need. When you serve others, you serve yourself.