Every time my fingers hit the keys my mind immediately filled with the thought “what’s the bloody point?” My head was echoing with politics that was ruining communities and the planet, the angry voices of friends on Facebook shouting at each other, the news of the burning Amazon.
So much more.
It just felt like whatever I wrote would be pointless and paled into insignificance with all of that other stuff. So I went downstairs and had a chat with Cerri. She was feeling it too. And that is what she said – write about that feeling. We both felt that there must be others who were also feeling overwhelmed, almost paralysed by the state of the news. It’s not a good or healthy state of mind to be in. This article isn’t going to be about the actual state of things. We all know that. What it’s going to be about is how we can still find peace and function in a world that seems to have lost its mind.
So what to do?
Have a break from social media – I remember the days of the email list, then of the message board. I used to watch in despair as good friends fell out with each other on message boards. Facebook is essentially a worldwide message board. It’s given everyone a platform and a voice, it’s helped people stay in touch. It has some really great uses. But it also shows the worse aspects of narcissism, it is the perfect channel to express righteousness at a convenient distance, it can feel like we are all keeping in touch with our friends when in reality all we are doing is clicking a little thumb and making it go blue. At times of crisis (which feels quite constant at the moment!), it can be the angriest and depressing online space. Relentless. Every few months I feel the need to have a Facebook holiday. I get off Facebook then call some friends and invite them over. You know, to talk, have a cuppa, connect in person. To turn off the noise. To help get some perspective. Have a go and see how it feels to stay away from Facebook for a week or so.
Get out in nature – On Monday even this didn’t work for me, which was when I knew I had a real problem and needed to do something. I thought to myself, Damh you need to go to the woods. Then I heard the voice of the inner doom-merchant saying yes that tree is beautiful, the earth smells amazing, the birds sound wonderful BUT WE ARE DESTROYING IT ALL!!!!!! I had to fight with that negativity all the way, and it’s really important to succeed! Because once that voice backed off, I could once again think clearly. I know things are dire, but sinking into a pit of despair is not going to help anyone or anything.
You don’t need to be perfect – It’s important to do as much as we can, and then go that extra step, and if you are reading this blog I would think you are concerned for the environment and you do that already. You probably recycle, take your own bags to bring home your shopping, cut out single-use plastics, you’re a vegan, have a hybrid or electric car, don’t have a car and take public transport all the time when travelling, don’t have a pet, never fly, take part in environmental physical protests, vote Green every time you can, give money to environmental charities, pick up litter whenever you see it. I’m sure that you are doing your best having to live and function in this rather broken society. It would be wonderful if we could all do all of these things all of the time, but it’s highly unlikely we can and still exist in a basically capitalist, consumer-led world. I remember seeing the comedian Sean Lock talking about recycling. How he spent ages cleaning out his Marmite jar, then he went to another country, saw the pollution and climate-change denial and thought what’s the bloody point. My friends, do all that you can because every environmental change we make to our lives can make a difference. But I’ve seen people I know care deeply for the environment, who do many of the things listed above but don’t do something on that list that another person thinks is vital, and they are called hypocrites. Instantly disempowered. How on this fair Earth is that kind of talk ever going to help? If things are going to change worldwide it needs governments to come together and take massive action. Unfortunately, they know these necessary actions will not be popular with many of their everyday voters, so those massive changes don’t happen. Any small change we can make in our lives is fantastic, and if you are doing any of the above, then I tip my hat to you and say keep it up. You are awesome.
Get your news from a reliable source – again, it’s unlikely that would be Facebook. When things seem to be in meltdown I find it’s good to take a step back and go to a couple of more reliable news sources. I like to go to at least two. Generally, I’d go to maybe The Guardian, and also The Times. Take in those two different perspectives. That way I feel I can make a better judgement on where the truth might lay. If I only read the views of people I agree with my own perspective might be a little skewed, add those other voices and I get a better picture. Get caught up in the melee on social media, and it won’t be long before we once more become lost and overwhelmed.
Be mindful – I know it’s a little bit of a bandwagon thing right now but I think it does really help. Taking just 10 minutes of each day to calm the mind, enter into meditation, stillness, it’s really valuable to do this right now. The practice of meditation and a daily spiritual practice is like putting on a suit of armour against those inner (and outer) negative voices. It keeps us clear-headed, focussed and aware. However these practices can be the first things that go when we are feeling under pressure, depressed or stressed out, but the reality is that it’s at times like these we need them the most. Nothing will change if all we are doing is feeling depressed and venting on Facebook. We need the energy to combat that downward spiral, and mindful practices can certainly help.
I don’t really want this post to be too long so I’ll stop there and maybe come back to this if you think it’s worth exploring some more. I’m sure that Cerri and I aren’t alone in feeling down about the state of the world right now – maybe you’d like to join us in making these few commitments and have enough energy to keep moving forward. To stay aware and less overwhelmed by the fog of negativity. To be able to shine that light out and support each other.
I’ll end with this last thought –
With every best wish my friends.