Self-care Sensitivity

Handling Traumatic News

I have not been very diligent about following my own self-care advice these couple of weeks.

Typically I do not read the news, I do not EVER watch TV news coverage of tragedies, I do not succumb to clicking on links in social media. But since last month, when violent, disturbing news started rolling in from seemingly everywhere, in a never-ending stream of general human suffering, I could not help but get sucked in. I felt rage, so much rage and impotence at violence towards women, racism, extremism, bigotry, violence towards racial minorities, injustice, pain and suffering. Age old stories packaged up into recurring nightmares.

I felt the pain and at the same time, I knew that my emotions about these events are close to meaningless. I am not doing anything simply by being – sad? numb? angry? – about it.

As a sensitive soul I know you are probably feeling much the same. Even if you have completely tuned out of the news, you have probably felt the intensity in the energy, the frazzled, prickly vibes going around the world. You’re perhaps feeling disoriented or resigned, in despair and despondent, helpless or maybe have even completely shut down.

The important thing is to not allow yourself to reach the point of overwhelm that you feel completely incapacitated and helpless. While warranted and completely understandable, being swept away helps nobody, to put it bluntly. The world NEEDS you right now – it needs people like us who are incapable of not feeling deeply. The point right now isn’t to pretend you don’t feel, or aren’t shocked or mad or upset. Or to get defensive. The point is to remember that we can no longer simply wait to act (or react) only when atrocities happen, but that peace requires day to day, sustained effort and action from people who have always felt that something is wrong and something needs to be done about it (you and me!).

I am guilty of this because after the crisis has passed or when things seem to be going smoothly, I tend to become a little complacent. I tell myself that the initial impetus to speak or write or make something meaningful isn’t so pressing, I’ll do it ‘later’.

It’s also easy to understand why we have a natural impulse to simply turn away. When you turn away you can move away from the discomfort:

“Most of us do not take these situations as teachings. We automatically hate them. We run like crazy. We use all kinds of ways to escape — all addictions stem from this moment when we meet our edge and we just can’t stand it. We feel we have to soften it, pad it with something, and we become addicted to whatever it is that seems to ease the pain.”
― Pema ChödrönWhen Things Fall Apart: Heartfelt Advice for Hard Times

So sensitive soul, I challenge you to not shut down, but also not to reach that point of overwhelm either. To reach that edge but not to go over it. Disconnect from the news and chaos enough so that you can take care of yourself, but hold that feeling of discomfort in your body long enough, to remind yourself that you too have an important role to play in making this world a lot more liveable for everyone. It’s about making changes in your own heart, by firstly accepting your sensitivity as a strength – and then spreading that peace in whatever way that calls out to you. Most importantly, to keep bearing witness, to keep listening, to keep reflecting and to keep going on.

Other self-care things I am doing:

  • Feel what you need to feel, but don’t get stuck – give yourself a day or two to sit with it, but remember to move out of that space…
  • By listening to uplifting music (I recommend this), going out and doing something that brings you into a different mood.
  • Spending time with loved ones
  • Looking at videos of cute animals
  • Spending time in Nature always, trees are always so wise and the old ones have seen EVERYTHING
  • Lastly, for the love of goddess do not pick a fight with someone and get into the rights and wrongs of a situation. Trying to challenge someone (especially online) about their views almost never work. When egos clash no one listens to what’s being said. Holding your truth and speaking it without needing the other to be won over by it is a lot more powerful, a MUCH stronger vibration, than trying to convince someone that they are wrong.

I wish you peace, I wish you courage, I wish you strength.

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