Photo Credit: Jose Alonso, Unsplash.com

Written by Arlene Schneider
November 13, 2019

It’s difficult–if not impossible–to ignore the violence and destruction we see on an almost daily basis. People share that they’re frightened for their children and for themselves. This makes perfect sense, considering all the shootings, road rage, and truly tragic occurrences that take place both locally and in all parts of the world.

We worry about sending our kids to school, going to a shopping mall, or attending sporting events. Even our clothing choices or bumper stickers can make us a target of violence or abuse. Our emotional responses to these tragedies can affect us deeply. How do we maintain our compassion while taking care of our emotional needs?

Because we’re compassionate and caring people, it’s difficult to witness these tragedies and not be concerned or deeply affected. How do we keep ourselves from becoming over-reactive in light of what we’re seeing? Everyone handles stress and fear differently. Some of us manage to completely tune it out, while others can’t stop thinking about it.

First and foremost, it helps to make a conscious choice regarding your level of involvement. 

If you’re upset and feel a calling to get involved, explore ways to do so in a healthy manner. For example, consider joining a group that focuses on healing and peace. Volunteering your services to help provide comfort to those in need can serve to use our emotions in a positive and loving manner. Sometimes, people feel outraged and become part of the problem by their actions or behaviors. Focusing on helping others can shift your perspective and get you back on track to feeling better about life’s circumstances. 

Ask yourself if your actions and habits are helping or merely contributing to frustration and negativity.

If you feel that you’re having difficulty controlling your thoughts and feelings around the news, you might want to take an inventory of how much you’re exposing yourself to it. Are you viewing inciting programs or reading online stories that fuel fear and anxiety? Who are you following on Twitter? What news programs are you watching? It’s no secret that many “news” programs are nothing short of biased commentary full of panelists yelling over each other. How can this not affect you? It does!

It doesn’t surprise me how often I hear from friends that they no longer watch the local or national news. I can totally relate! In the past, I’d welcome the morning solitude with a print newspaper, whereas now I log into Twitter and converse with my fellow NOLA Saints-loving friends. We greet each other with pictures and gifs that are upbeat and positive! We talk excitedly about the team, but we also share friendship and concern for each other. I start my day with lots of good morning wishes and funny gifs that give me a boost to get myself to the gym or to the park for my morning run. 

How many of your conversations with friends result in discussions that lead everyone to feel depressed and helpless?

Of course, it can be useful to vent and talk about our concerns. In fact, in the 1960s, women practiced “consciousness-raising” as a means to identify and combat societal discrimination. However, it’s important to keep discussions as positive and directly productive as possible, avoiding the bottomless abyss of negativity. Don’t be afraid to verbalize your observations and redirect the conversation (Your friends may thank you.)

It isn’t shocking that engaging with family members with opposing views leads to strife and division. If you find yourself wanting to make a point, stop and ask yourself why you feel the need to play the game. How will it serve you or your family? How will it make the time together more loving and peaceful?

Obviously, it is not difficult to find social media posts that are written solely to divide and enrage. Do you really want to spend your time in a social media argument? It’s safe to say that virtually no one’s political or religious opinion has ever been swayed by reading a Facebook post! Remember you don’t have to follow people or read posts that are provocative or mean-spirited. A simple click can take care of that and shift your attitude to a more positive level!

Spending time in gratitude and grateful silence can bring about a new perspective. Wouldn’t that be a welcome relief?

In spite of the news stories that we hear and we see, we’re also surrounded by beauty and wonder. Take some time to focus on what’s beautiful in your life and what brings you peace.

What is beauty in your eyes? A sunrise? A newborn infant? Your cat curling up on your lap? There’s no end to positivity and beauty around you if you choose to see it.

What can you do to find peace and beauty within yourself? It’s there for you to tap into.

How can you spread that feeling to friends and family? Let the change start with you.

Once you shine your inner light and you show up with an attitude without judgment, but instead, with peace, you’ll see changes in your world. And that’s how the shift begins; one person and one attitude at a time.

Header Photo Credit: Jose Alonso, Unsplash.com