How Do I Cope with World Events?
My heart is beating in my gut, the breakfast I just finished feels heavy and I feel like I am going to be sick. I was just informed that it’s likely the US is entering into war again. Nothing is for sure yet, but even the violence that has already taken place is too much for me. I really have to take time to process to cope with world events like this.
Cope with world events in the moment
As an empath, while things like this may seem far away to other people, I can be deeply emotionally affected by what is going on in the world. I feel a lot, but even if you are not highly sensitive, there comes a point where what is happening can all seem like too much. What can we do with these emotions?
The first thing I have to do to respond to my feelings is to be aware of them. I realize that I am having an emotional reaction to the news and my stomachache and racing heart are my body’s natural reaction to a sense of danger. I am not in immediate danger, but my body doesn’t know the difference between the signals.
When I think of war, I feel imminent fear. It’s palpable, dries out my mouth, and brings tears to my eyes. It is not something to be ignored. So I acknowledge them and even accept that this is who I am. My compassion and strong feelings of sadness about death and hate are part of me that I wouldn’t change. So I have to know how to cope.
Get control of the physical response
Once I recognize the physical symptoms are a result of the emotions, they rarely escalate. My pulse begins to drop as I slow my breathing and I can relax into the present moment. Stomach pain doesn’t immediately go away, but once I’m aware of what’s causing it, I don’t stress about it. If I need them, I know lots of relaxation techniques.
Deciding what to do with my emotions about world events
Once I get a handle on the physical response to my emotions, I have to decide what to do with them. If I want, I could read news article after news article, and lose myself in the sadness of the state of the world. There are plenty of tragedies to read about, from the wildfires in Australia to the flooding in Indonesia, I wouldn’t run out of things to feel bad about.
But if I want to feel empowered, there are some things that I have in place to help me deal with emotionally draining situations.
Limit the feeling time
The first one is limiting the time I have to read up on the issue and feel low about it. Today I am giving myself half an hour. During that time I have to watch all the videos, read articles, and whatever I need to do to feel informed about the situations at hand and feel the emotions. I also need to identify what I can do about it.
Sometimes I can donate to a good cause, share information about the problem, or act on an issue. Today I am going to write this article and be supportive of those I know that will be affected as much as I am.
Even when it appears I am completely helpless, I know that I have ways to offer positive energy to negative situations. I do this through a practice of mindfulness. I take the time to connect energetically with nature and with all living things. I send out love and compassion to the whole earth or a specific situation or location. I can also visualize the change I want to see happen, like the mass visualization of rain that people are doing for Australia. Anyone can do it, and if you haven’t tried it, you might be surprised at how beneficial it is.
So after identifying what I can do, I have to set aside the time to DO the action. If I am just thinking about doing it over and over I’m giving myself too much time to ruminate on the problem. Soon I start second-guessing myself, thinking that it’s not enough, or my contribution won’t matter, so I try to act as soon as possible.
Dismiss additional thoughts
Just like I have trained myself to filter out negative self-talk, I filter out news in order to cope with world events. When I go about my day and the thoughts pop into my head, I dismiss them. If I see an article, or someone asks me a question about it, I can dismiss it. This is much easier when I know that I have done what I can do.
We all make small talk on a regular basis and whatever is happening in the news is an easy topic to start a conversation. However, if you are not in an emotional space to have those conversations, you have every right to say so, or even to leave the conversation if the group you are with insists on discussing it.
I often use a phrase like, “Sorry, I don’t have the emotional bandwidth for that discussion right now.” Or, “Can we avoid this topic today? I just don’t have the energy for it but I’d really like to know what’s new and exciting in your life.”
Make time for the things you love to do and the people you love. Go out and listen to music, dance, sit in the park, whatever your thing is. It is even more important than usual to do fun things when there are world events making it hard for you to cope.
What else can you do
If you feel called to do something bigger, by all means, listen to your intuition. If you can turn a negative event into a positive experience for you, go for it. Do whatever makes you feel most empowered. And do it for yourself because you are so worth it.
If you have additional tips or if any of these resonated with you, share a comment below! I’d love to know what else my fellow empaths or highly sensitive people are doing to cope with the world events around us today.
Originally published at https://www.kaylamdouglas.com on January 8, 2020.