How will you navigate what’s next? We’re more than six months into a pandemic with more months to come, even with the promise of a vaccine.
Anger: A secondary reaction to pain, not good or bad—but what you do with it
1-TURN OFF THE NEWS. I cannot stress this enough. We as a species come packaged not only to love, but to grieve loss. We are equipped to mourn. But we are not equipped to take in all the pain that comes from a continual exposure—visual and verbal—to what we hear and see nonstop through television, print news, and social media. Turn off or silence updates for your phone, tablet, and laptop. I recommend checking news feeds once in the morning, and then again once in the afternoon—not late at night before you go to bed. Anger, tension, and anxiety are formidable bunkmates to a good night’s sleep.
We grieve RBG’s death. Many voice extreme anger at where our current administration is taking the country. Anger is almost always a secondary reaction to pain—physical pain (a stubbed toe), emotional pain, and pain of injustices—either toward oneself or toward others around you and the physical world. And now we have a sitting president whose out-sized debt may possibly compromise our national security.
Are we puppets of the media world? Stooges? Roger Ailes, former chairman and CEO of Fox News, used repetition, “the oldest and most effective propaganda technique.” In that sense, he created the news of the day. His listeners believed nothing else mattered in the world or in their lives. Ailes attracted viewers who “did not want television to tell them what happened in the world. They wanted television to tell them how to think about what happened in the world—the news itself would be secondary” (1).
Life is a mystery to be lived, not a problem to be solved.
2-WHAT GIVES YOU LIFE? What gives you peace and contentment? Search out what interests you—it might take some digging. Visit on-line art exhibits. Some have taken to gardening, others cook or bake, and others develop musical skills. Just because someone raves about how gardening has opened up a whole new way of living for her, that doesn’t mean it’s your way—I have personally sent far too many plants to an early death. I do pull invasive species, however. I know I’m contributing to the greater good of the planet by allowing our native species the space and moisture to flourish, along with the bees, butterflies, insects, and birds that exist symbiotically with the native plants.
3-PRACTICE MINDFULNESS. Or any kind of spirituality that brings you comfort. No right way exists for meditation. You can sit on or off a cushion, use a kneeling bench, walk, recline on the floor. A point of mindfulness is to accept your current situation, your path, your Dao, your emotions, without judgment, and to quiet your monkey brain from all its chatter.
Check in with yourself on a regular basis. What keeps you connected to your soul? This requires paying attention to the wisdom from our bodies. When emotions fill our chest, head, shoulders, heart—stop and pay attention. Ask yourself, “What do I need?” And be prepared to live with mystery, to live that question. Life is a mystery to be lived, not a problem to be solved.
Have the hard conversation: “Are you socially distancing? Do you wear a mask?”
4-CONNECT. And after you ask those difficult questions, make decisions based on protecting your own health and those around you. Even the most introverted need some community—some interaction with humans. Talk with friends or family on the phone; connect through Zoom or Google Hangouts. Technically savvy people use Zoom and play games with others, using apps such as jackboxgames.com.
5-EXERCISE. MOVE. What gets your energy jumping? Dance videos? Karaoke? Move to what gives you joy. Plan how you will be outdoors for those facing an onset of colder weather.
6-EXTEND COMPASSION—to yourself and others. See my August People House blog for ways to train in compassion.
Get your affairs in order
7-And one more item to bring peace of mind and contentment: get your affairs in order. And age doesn’t matter. As an ordained minister, I’m called upon to assist when people begin thinking of passing, how they will write this next chapter of life. The National Institute of Aging lists four components of end of life planning: 1) completing an advance directive (AD) or living will, 2) appointing an individual with durable power of attorney for health care, 3) having a document for distribution of assets, and 4) specifying preferences for type and place of care (3). These apply to younger adults also, with the addition of providing for any dependent children.
No one likes to think of death and dying or discuss this with loved ones. But make it easier on everyone concerned by being a responsible adult. Take control of these decisions as much as you can.
If we’ve learned anything from this sudden upheaval of our lives, it’s that life is unpredictable. It is indeed a mystery to be lived.
Notes & Sources:
- Gabriel Sherman, The Loudest Voice in the Room: How Roger Ailes and Fox News Remade American Politics. 2014. Random House.
About the Author: Rev. Mary Coday Edwards is a Spiritual Growth Facilitator and People House Minister. A life-long student of spirituality, Mary spent almost 20 years living, working, and sojourning abroad in Asia, Southeast Asia, East Africa, and Latin America before finding her spiritual connection at People House and completing its Ministerial Program. Past studies include postgraduate studies from the University of South Africa in Theological Ethics/Ecological Justice, focusing on the spiritual and physical interconnectedness of all things. With her MA in Environmental Studies from Boston University, abroad she worked and wrote on environmental sustainability issues at both global and local levels, in addition to working in refugee repatriation.