When the news rips at your stomach, constricts your heart, and boggles your mind, what do you do?
Hide? Put it all the blind spot. Ignore the fear, sadness, worry. Hope it will just go away.
Try to make sense of it? Listen to every news story, every perspective. Search for answers. Find some way to stop it with logic.
Get angry? Lash out in an attempt to take back control. To force it to go away.
Each of these is a response from our natural fight, flight, freeze response. It is designed to keep us safe. Yet, its design can’t keep us safe in many of our threats these days.
Remaining in this mode, our best judgment is clouded. Our body is in overdrive, exhausting resources. In the end, we are only harming ourselves, fighting our natural defenses.
If we are going to make a true difference, we need all of our own strength, energy, and clarity.
What to do?
- Don’t do – Be. The first instinct when tragedy strikes is what my friends and I call ‘making the lasagna’. That standard comfort food we send to people in grief represents something we can do. But before we ‘make the lasagna’, or do anything else we first have to feel. Be sad. Acknowledge the fear and anxiety and worry. Admit this is really hard and scary and overwhelming. Cry. Pray. Hug. Breathe. Breathe again and again.
- Move. In fight, flight, freeze, our bodies are prepared to move, to take action in a physical way. Since fleeing or fighting probably won’t make things better, we need to move the body to get it back to homeostasis. Move in any way that renews mind, body and heart. Take a walk, a run, play, dance, stretch – anything that clears the fog and restores a calm and clear state of mind.
- Be the change. Use the energy to start a kindness revolution. Starting with being kind to ourselves, then widening that circle to all those around you. Smile, compliment, thank, hug, give, help, notice, be present. We are all connected. When you cannot be kind directly to those you hear about in the news, spreading kindness in your own circle will ripple outward to reach those you cannot touch.
- Return to step #1 as needed.
It’s simple but not easy. It is not the complete answer, but it may be a start.
If we burn up all our energy by trying to ignore, fight, or run away, we can’t change anything in the long run. If we react from fear, we are less likely to get what we truly want.
When your whole person is shaken by the news, let’s practice spreading the ability to collectively breathe, restore, and re-gain access to the resilience and energy we need to be the change we want to see in the world.