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How to Handle Bad News

Anxiety | Health

Lately, it seems, there is even more negativity and crisis in the news. The more we read or watch, the more we might get the idea, the world is turning into Dante’s Inferno. Not surprisingly, I noticed myself avoiding the news altogether. As much as I wanted to stay in touch with what is going on in Washington, Aleppo or Standing Rock, I started to only listen to the very minimum of headlines on the radio. If I read longer articles or let myself watch some sort of amateur video of scenes from Aleppo, it would just turn my stomach and leave me feeling hopeless, powerless and utterly disappointed that we are seemingly so unable to leave our children a better planet.

But of course, we cannot turn a blind eye, not forever at least. For most of us, I’m guessing, it’s also important to be sensitive to what is going on in the world around us. So how do we process bad headlines, threatening speeches, disturbing images? How can we stay connected to what feels true and joyful and whole when the news offers nothing but a hateful and fragmented world? I mean, watching a puppy video can be nice but it’s not exactly a long-term strategy for any of this, is it?

How to Handle Bad News

Here are some of my go-to practices that I began to establish when I felt there had to be a way to stay conscious of what is happening around me while maintaining hope and joy in my own life:

Focusing on what CAN be done

This, I find is the toughest one. After all, what can we possibly do to alleviate the suffering around the world? That’s kind of a tall order, isn’t it? I’m getting deflated just thinking about it! Depending on our standard of living, we may not be able to take in a refugee, donate tons of money or travel to Standing Rock and protest. If you can do any of those things, great and thank you for being you! If, however, those are not viable options, what is it that can be done in our immediate vicinity?

But what can I do by myself? The answer is, there’s always something!

I’m not talking about getting rid of clothes we didn’t need anyway or picking up a gum wrapper on the street. Those are helpful too, for sure. What I am talking about, is picking a targeted mission, however small, something that’s doable for us, that fits into our schedule and that requires exactly our talents and skills. But what can I do by myself? The answer is, there’s always something! Are there any single moms who need just an hour or two of tutoring for their children? Is there a charity that focuses on a cause close to your heart? Love crafting, reading, painting? Maybe take that to a local organization that helps kids! Something probably came up for you while you read this. Run with that!

Of course, I know, this won’t help people in crises around the world but getting involved never ever fails to have a ripple effect. Heck, you might find a new calling, a new friend, a message just for you! If we can be kind in our immediate life, the abundance that follows is nothing less than miraculous in its reach. Try it! If nothing else, that feeling of being powerless and hopeless will fade, I promise!

Sticking To or Creating Rituals

Whether you meditate, read, play guitar, swim, yodel or dance the Rumba, don’t stop! Not only are rituals and hobbies important to maintain a traceable and meaningful daily life, they also keep us sane. Making sure we carve out time in our lives to focus on the things that bring us joy is increasingly important especially as we get older (and dare I say a little more cynical?). There are no rules really but for me two things are important. The first is, don’t feel guilty that you’re doing something for yourself when the world is apparently falling apart and deserves your every minute of support. We are no use to anybody, if we cannot keep ourselves sane. In an online class with Amy Ippoliti today, Amy said something at the end of class that stuck with me: We need to be consistent for ourselves as much as we are consistent for others. Simple but not always easy, I know.

The second aspect is, let that activity be without an agenda. It doesn’t have to be perfect or done a certain way. The main goal, if there is one, is to feel joy! I don’t mean “nice” or “entertaining.” I mean really LOVE what you’re doing and raise that heart energy! You know you have it when you forget about time altogether. THAT energy has the potential to heal the world in ways we cannot always imagine.

Expand your Tribe

Those of you who have read previous articles of mine will know this sounds familiar. I’m big on tribal bonds, I admit it! But here’s the thing: tribes give comfort, support, energy. When we spend our time with girlfriends who know us, partners who support us, children who mean the world to us, we feel safe. We don’t just get a warm, fuzzy feeling, which is lovely. We also grow more confident that not all is lost! There are still people out there who are inspiring and doing amazing things…and they want to spend time with us! Hurray!

Beyond taking care of your existing tribe though, maybe find new members. If you feel strongly about taking conscious action, find likeminded people. I mean, what good is Facebook, if it cannot generate events near you that are based on the pages you have liked on the darn platform! I have found so many workshops, circles or small events just in my Facebook newsfeed! Not on Facebook? Find those local free papers, if they still print them in your area, or check out the message board in your local organic food store, yoga studio, coffee shop or bar. If it’s in your heart, it’s in your neighborhood.

I hope some of these practices are useful to you! How do you deal with bad news? Feel free to share your strategies in the comments below!

Image credit: Stephanie Birch

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