“There is only one way to happiness, and that is to cease worrying about things which are beyond the power of our will.” -Epictetus
Last week, Dr. Christine Ford testified against supreme court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, and both became nationwide subjects of scrutiny and judgement. Many people feel triggered, upset, angered, and saddened by the trial.
It is a time of great upheaval in this country, as our bipartisanism continues to become more and more polarized. Strangers attack each other on social media. Family and friends argue, through screens and in person. Even inter-group relationships feel tense and strained. People who are ‘on the same side’ but disagree about how to ‘fix’ political problems are turning on each other.
In my early 20’s, when I first became political and oriented towards social justice, I spent a lot of my life angry. I spent hours arguing with people on social media, researching statistics to back up my points, ranting online and in person about the ignorance and idiocy of others. The anger ate away at me from the inside like a poison.
The man who is now my husband pointed out that the amount of time I spent arguing on social media was unhealthy. I was very resistant to this perspective at first. I pointed out importance of social justice and my responsibility to educate others. He shot back that I am not going to change anyone’s mind, and the efforts I was putting in were wasted.
It took me many years to realize that he was right. I had been using my online presence to try to cope with feelings of helplessness about the state of the world. What I did not realize at the time is there are many other, better ways to cope with those feelings, and to create positive change.
We can express our opinions to people in power. We can call our senators, write e-mails, protest.
We can donate our time and money to causes we care about.
We can show support and love to people who have been victimized.
We can lift up people who are doing amazing work to make the world a better place.
We can advocate for ourselves and those we care about, on a personal or political scale.
We can write and create art and poetry, to express ourselves in a constructive way.
We can listen to understand others. We can listen, not for the sake of trying to convince others of our opinions (because that does not work), but rather, for the sake of witnessing them, and bringing us closer as people.
We can bless ourselves and others with loving kindness, patience, and grace.
Each kind act we carry out, each compassionate thought we think, creates a ripple effect that increases the net amount of love in the world, and in ourselves.
Kindness is far more effective than trying to convince someone else they are wrong through a Facebook comment. We cannot control what other people think. We can control our own actions, and how we choose to cope with circumstances.
All of this kindness and compassion includes, and even prioritizes, compassion towards yourself. So if this has been a difficult week for you, please take care of yourself. Eat regular meals and drink water. Take a deep, cleansing, refreshing breath in through your nose, and out through your mouth. Call a loved one. Pet your dog. Take a shower or bath. Brush your hair. Listen to your favorite song. Buy yourself flowers. Put on some scented lotion. Make yourself tea and toast with honey. Draw something. Go on a walk. Pray or meditate. Do whatever you do to feed your soul.
Self-care is not selfish. In fact, quite the opposite. You are the world, and the world is you.
So be selfless, and do something kind for yourself today.
Have a mindful Monday.