Saving Your Country Without Losing Yourself
How to mobilize without leaving yourself immobilized.
Like many, even the majority of Americans, I have recently taken to the streets to protest various issues for which I have great passion. I took an overnight bus both ways to the Women’s March in D.C. from my Connecticut home. I protested at the nearest international airport, I showed up to preserve reproductive rights at the Connecticut State Capitol and at my Town Hall to let refugees and particularly, Muslims know that they are welcome. I have also called the offices of my two senators, every day.
I have made signs, shared lots of information on social media, read up on the news and watched too much TV. Honestly, the consumption of media reports has often left me angry and riled up. It has also left me anxious. I know that I am not alone. So, how do we show up and move forward on the long road, while preserving our own energy?
Limit Consumption of Media
I did not used to watch TV until this last campaign season. There was the odd comedy show I liked but we would watch it On Demand. I know that while it may not be realistic for me to go back to not watching any TV news, I should definitely reduce how much of it I watch. The less I watch, the less anxious I am.
I resist the temptation to go on Twitter and Facebook in the morning. I generally do the same for personal email. This allows me to use my most creative morning time to do work or to write. I greet the world being proactive instead of reactive to the things that land in my inbox or on my social media thread. Carve out some space and time to be proactive instead of reactive.
Do Good In The World and Keep Track of The Good You Do
It is very easy to feel pretty powerless these days. But we do have power. Buddhism teaches that we only really have power over our words, thoughts and deeds. Use that power to do or say something nice for/to someone. It will definitely help and mean a lot to them and it will help you even more. Try it.
Keep a Gratitude Journal. It sounds corny, but I started keeping one three years ago and I am hooked. I come from a family that tends to see the glass as half full and the sky as en route to falling. Keeping the Gratitude Journal helps me see that there are things to be grateful for even when it seems that everything looks grim.
The Gratitude Journal I have devised for myself actually tracks not only three things, people/pets or organizations that I am grateful for each day, it also tracks three things, people/pets or organizations I have helped each day in some way. It is just a simple notebook that I write in every day, creating two columns. Give it a whirl for a week and let me know what you think.
Put Your Own Oxygen Mask On First
Now more than ever, it is important for us to remind each other that self-care is needed. We can’t show up for the world and the causes we believe in if we can’t get out of bed. That means showing up for ourselves by taking the time to do whatever it is that grounds us. For me it is walking or hiking in nature, yoga, meditation, stretching and cooking healthy meals for myself and my husband. Remember what restores your energy and strive to make it a conscious part of your life these days.
Above all, keep your eye on the road ahead, but enjoy the beautiful scenery along the way. It’s still there if you look for it.