In recent blogs I have confessed that I’ve become much more active politically. I’ve always had the mindset of an activist. Most of my life, when I saw injustice, I did what I could to stand up for those being victimized. But I see a lot more people doing that these days. What does that have to do with mental health? I believe it has everything to do with it! We’re here on earth to connect with each other, and that process of relationship is when we learn the most about ourselves (which is what therapy is supposed to be – education of the Self). Politics is a nasty game, and it tends to pull us apart in many ways, but it’s the macrocosm that represents each of us as individuals.
My point here is that (no news to you), we are living in a very tumultuous time. It’s almost impossible not to offend someone, even if you say or do nothing. We’ve actually had it too good for a long time. There have always been rough spots and extreme views – regarding finances, social issues, religion, prejudice – you name it. But, until now, we’ve also had the security of hoping our elected officials believed in and adhered to the constitution enough to keep things flowing (even though we always knew there were extremists on both sides that we didn’t trust so much). But many of us try to avoid conflict in our own lives, so we became complacent. We were sure that those things we heard about in other parts of the world could never happen here, so we thought we were “safe.”
Unfortunately, most of us tend to live on auto-pilot, which means we have to have a crisis to make ourselves get out of our comfort zone and look at where our lives are going. In these cases, we only truly appreciate what we’ve had in our lives after we’ve lost whatever that is.
In my office over this past several years, I’ve had more and more clients who were just totally stressed because money has been tight, they were being expected to work the jobs of 3 people and be on call 24/7. There was already a lot of civil unrest and frustration socially, and then came the presidential election, protests, inauguration, the Executive Orders and the reality that a foreign country really has interfered with our election and government (and is possibly still doing so). All of this has continued to build in intensity to a point where it now feels like it’s all just going to explode – and soon!
When we feel such strong emotions, we can tend to develop tunnel vision to try to get our point across – just to be heard. We become hyper-focused on whatever we feel is causing our pain and sometimes we just focus on the powerlessness we feel when what we are doing doesn’t produce the outcome we were looking for. We feel better if we think there is something we can do. To stand up for something we believe in increases our sense of personal power. But we have to guard against getting overwhelmed. We all need balance in order to keep the energy flowing.
If my study of the Afterlife has taught me anything, it’s how I want to live my life – here and now. I want to look at the big picture, live from love in the moment as much as I can, not be too attached to any specific outcome for what I’m dealing with in the moment, and look for the miracles and the opportunities that might not have shown themselves if I hadn’t had my current crisis.
In today’s world, it sometimes feels hard to live from love because we have such radically different views on how things “should be.” I believe that regardless of which side we’re on in surface issues, our opinions are born from wanting to do what is right. But as humans, our beliefs are a product of our life experiences, what we’ve been taught by the adults in our lives, the doctrines of our faith – or the lack of belief, and the consequences of the choices we’ve made. As each of these things impact our lives, we develop thoughts that we feed ourselves repeatedly. Those we allow in most often become our beliefs.
Recently, there’s also been a lot of discussion around what is factual and what is not. Here’s the Gospel According to Patti on facts and truths: A fact is something that can be verified; an event that actually happened with evidence remaining to prove that. Your truth is your reality – how the consequences actually effected you – your beliefs, attitudes and behaviors. Your truth and mine may not line up. While we know there are some who purposely lie, I really believe the majority of us tell the truth as we see it. (And there is no such thing as “alternative facts”).
The more energy we put into all the what-if’s and worry about how to handle something that hasn’t even happened yet, the less energy we’ll have to deal with what comes up in the moment. The more we worry about whether we’ll get something we really want or the more we get upset about what we don’t have, the less we’ll even notice what we DO have. We really just need to live life today. It’s all we really have anyway.
When we can do those things – stay in the moment to experience life and get outside our own heads in order to focus on others occasionally, that’s where we find peace. It’s not “out there” somewhere. It’s right here inside each of us, and only when we find it there and share it, can it grow.
A quote from Cory Booker of New Jersey was posted on Facebook some time ago. I’m sharing the parts of the quote that represent what I’m trying to say here:
Before you speak to me about your religion, first show it to me in how you treat other people . . . teach me about it through your compassion for your neighbors . . . I’m not as interested in what you have to tell or sell as in how you choose to live and give.
Bottom line here is, as we go about living our day-to-day existence, it’s important to stay connected to what’s going on around us in the world. It’s our duty as citizens of this Universe to do what we can to fight for the environment, our beliefs, our healthcare and equity for all, especially those who can’t fight for themselves. But in this process, don’t forget to just live, love and laugh. That’s really why we’re here.