A lot has been happening lately. It seems that you can't turn on the news without another story about humans being violent toward each other. The endless news of pain and loss can be too much and it can feel like there isn't anything to do. Here are a few things that I like to keep in mind when things feel heavy. Sometimes it lightens the load a little.
Be kind to yourself.
This is where so many things start. Self-compassion is the foundation for compassion toward the other people in your life. Don't be hard on yourself because you don't know what to do or how to help or even what to think. Be kind to yourself so that you can be kind to others.
Put down the phone and turn off the TV. Look a cashier in the face and tell them a heartfelt thanks. Listen to your friends, family, and co-workers. Really be with the people that you are interacting with. It's easy to shrug off a store clerk or wait to speak instead of really listen. Make an effort to be right where you are.
Don't feed the trolls.
While it is important to hear all sides, it is not necessary to amplify the signal of the naysayers or engage in an endless battle over who is right. There will always be people who want to go head to head on who can say the nastiest things. You don't have to take part in it.
Love your people well.
Take care of each other. Be there for one another. Tell the people who are important to you that they are just that. Build community and watch it expand. Be open with each other and foster safe spaces where vulnerability and empathy can exist peacefully.
Be informed wisely.
We live in a world with 24 hour news channels, Twitter feeds, and information addiction. It's important to stay informed, but you don't have to read every article you see in your Facebook feed. It also isn't necessary that you stay uptotheminuteupdatedohmygod. Take a breath and a step back. Set the remote control and the phone down. Taking in a constant onslaught of negative information can have harmful effects on your mental and physical well-being. Be mindful of how you take in media and information.
It's easier to throw up your hands and say "I give up on the world" than it is to keep going and trying to do the hard work of healing. If everyone throws up their hands, what happens? If I let the negativity spiral out of control for myself, it directly impacts other people in my life. This isn't about putting your blinders on to the reality of situations, but it is remembering that you can have a positive impact on the world. I believe that even the small things that I do every day can have a wider impact than I expect. Continuing to believe that good acts matter, that kindness and compassion matter, has a great force for change behind it.