Proactive Empowerment vs. Reactive Victimhood
To become more educated about difficult subjects is not the same as forcing yourself to be a passive consumer of the onslaught of “news” from the mainstream media. To be the victim of an avalanche of seemingly random traumatic information naturally makes you feel angry and helpless. We’ve all experienced the overwhelm that forces us into a numbness in order to go on. There’s a different way to go about educating yourself.
You have the right to ignore what is being pushed on you from mainstream and social media. It’s advisable to at least take breaks now and then. Notice how that feels and the energy it frees up in you. This is not the same as sticking your fingers in your ears and rejecting the privilege you have to be an educated citizen. On the contrary, once you move away from being a passive recipient of what six corporate MSM owners choose to broadcast, then you have the time and energy to search out information that can both inform and empower you.
Some subjects are extremely difficult, and it will always require tremendous inner strength and compassion to bear witness to human suffering. But at the same time, it’s possible to choose information that leads you to a greater understanding, information that isn’t like the fear-based, victim-creating “news” you’re inundated with from mainstream sources. And when you begin to connect with more direct, more personal and more empowering sources, you’ll find others who are working to solve problems at the causal level.
Remember Human Resilience
As you encounter dark and dreadful things in our world, it might help to remind yourself that countless people have walked a path that seems impossibly difficult, and yet they’ve demonstrated the remarkable resilience of the human spirit.
To know that many victims of horrifying circumstances have survived and healed, and even come to make significant contributions to the healing of others… that is human potential. When something feels impossibly dark or evil, the light at the end of the tunnel is the human spirit.
Once you’re willing to consider the possibility that something you never imagined to be possible might, in fact, be true, then things begin to change. Knowledge is power, as is community.
Being with Difficult Emotions
It’s really hard to be exposed to dark, disturbing subjects. To learn about evil perpetrated against helpless victims, you might naturally feel overwhelmed with horror or anger or sadness, or any number of uncomfortable emotions. You’re human, after all.
Some subjects are so dark or so fantastical that it can seem impossible to ever become “comfortable” with them. When you’re faced with something like that, a wise practice is to pause and simply notice your thoughts and feelings, without needing to do anything about them yet.
Breathe consciously and remind yourself that in this moment, you’re okay. You’re gaining more information about something upsetting. It’s really hard. And in this moment, you’re okay.
Resist the impulse to “rationalize” your way out of the feelings, or to distract yourself with addictive or compulsive behaviors.
Instead, focus on directing your attention in a way that is sometimes called “being the witness.” This means to observe your thoughts, feelings and sensations as if they are clouds passing by. You’re being like the great blue sky: detached from the thought clouds as they pass through.
This does not mean to suppress your feelings. On the contrary, you’re allowing them. But you don’t fall into a pit where you BECOME LOST WITHIN the feelings. You WATCH THEM as they arise and change and pass.
Be assured that as you process your feelings and some of the emotional charge dissipates, that this does not mean you’ll lose motivation to take action. Unprocessed emotion is not a necessity for motivation. In reality, action and power are wielded most effectively from a state of calm dedication and persistence.
To face and accept that something very challenging could possibly be true — and to allow yourself to feel very uncomfortable feelings — is more powerful than it may seem. It’s a significant step in the right direction. Unlike turning away or suppressing the strong feelings that threaten to come to the surface, you can begin to process them. And once you’ve processed them, you’ll have more clarity and energy to know what actions you want to take.
If you’re wondering what you can do to further process your feelings or take other positive action, see What You Can Do Part 2.