Today, someone messaged me and asked how to deal with the feeling of being powerless, and the ensuing emotions that resulted from that feeling. They also said that they would feel so bad that they weren’t pursuing anything else, out of solidarity for those suffering. I answered the inquiry, and I wanted to share with you what I said to this person:
First of all, I totally understand the feeling. When things are happening on a greater, grander scale (like national or even global decisions), it’s natural to feel like there isn’t anything you can do, and that leads to feeling frustrated with yourself, getting depressed, etc. And I don’t want to say that it’s “good” that you feel that way, but it’s a better response than not caring at all.
And sometimes it’s not even on such a big scale. When we see someone in our life who is in pain, we want to make it better. We want to fix the problem. And when we can’t, it feels like a failure. We take on their suffering because we believe that somehow it balances out. Unfortunately, it doesn’t. I mean, put yourself in the other person’s shoes: if you were to find out that someone was suffering on your behalf, would that make you feel better? Probably not.
Ultimately, though, it’s about balance and finding a direction to turn your emotional response.
For me, personally, regarding the bigger scale issues, after the election and after the first few weeks of just feeling like the world was ending, I started getting more involved with activism in my area. Nothing huge, but this week we met up with some people and wrote to our local and state representatives. Next, we’re planning an event to help raise money for local organizations. That feels good. It feels like something, and it keeps me rooted in knowing that I am a part of the ‘good side.’
On a smaller, more personal level, I’ve also been getting back into the mode of creativity, because I know that people need something good to look at when things in the world seem pretty dark. This is the time people need art and words and anything to make them feel a bit better. If I can use that to bolster the spirit of someone who is suffering, I will.
And really – take care of yourself. Feeling bad in and of itself will only wear you out. Enjoy the things that you love and be grateful for them, and look for ways that you can reach out and be there for people having a rough go of it. Remember, you need to secure your own oxygen mask before you can assist others with theirs.
Once again with regard to the bigger stuff, this is a particularly good read that a friend posted on Twitter this week, and it was something I absolutely had to read.
I hope this helps. Hang in there!