When we meet real tragedy in life, we can react in two ways – either by losing hope and falling into self-destructive habits, or by using the challenge to find our inner strength.
– Dalai Lama
Recently I’ve had interesting conversations with people about the violence in the world. Crime, wars, terrorism, and disaster: Is it getting worse, or are we just hearing more about it?
“The color of my skin was never an issue for me – until now,” said one of my clients.
“My son is a policeman, and I’m worried about him every day now,” said another.
People feel less safe than before. A woman I know canceled her vacation just because she feels safer at home these days.
We wake up in the morning nervous to check the news. Who knows what bad news we’re going to hear today? Now what happened while we were asleep?
People are asking themselves – what can we do?
When things fall apart around us, there is one thing we can control for sure: our reaction.
You might say that controlling our reaction is easy to say and harder to do. How can we stay calm when people are shooting other people and innocent people are being killed or hurt? Having an emotional reaction, feeling sad, angry, or depressed, is very normal in times like these. We wouldn’t be human if we didn’t feel the hurt. It is important to accept the negative emotions and to feel them, and eventually, to make a choice to release them. We don’t want to hold on to them for too long. We want to consciously shift our energy to a higher place and not allow ourselves to be sucked into overreacting, over-drama, and feeling depressed.
What can we do to stop the violence in the world?
Let’s break down this idea into more practical actions.
Start small – love yourself and the people around you.
I believe that we each have a sacred responsibility to stop the suffering in the world by practicing love and compassion with ourselves and the people close to us. We can’t fix the world, nor can we change it, but we can make a difference in the world by being mindful about our attitude, thoughts, emotions, and behaviors.
Shift your focus from problem to solution.
When talking to people and discussing what’s going on in the world, pay attention to the language you use and intentionally talk more about solutions and less about problems.
Do the news in small doses.
It is very normal in a time like this to be obsessed with listening to the news. People are afraid to miss important information, so they spend more time than usual watching, listening to, and reading the news. There is a big difference between learning the facts and spending a lot of time watching videos and pictures or reading testimonials of people who are injured. It is unhealthy for us as well as for our loved ones to spend our time digging deep, trying to gather all the details of something bad that’s happened. Give yourself permission to limit your connection with the news and allow yourself to engage in happier activities.
Detach and limit the drama.
One of my Reiki students said recently that the word “detachment” scares her because it means we don’t care and we are disconnected from the world. For me, staying detached means having a more neutral response where we don’t allow outside situations to take away our power. In other words, be less reactive and more mindful about our reactions.
Stay hopeful (and if you can’t – bounce back quickly).
As I mentioned earlier, it is our sacred responsibility to practice love and compassion. It is also our responsibility and it is in our hands to not drop to such a low energy level that we cannot stay hopeful. Pay attention to the direction of your mood and emotions. If you catch yourself spiraling downward, use your awareness to pause and ask yourself what you can say to yourself so you can shift to a more hopeful place. Being hopeful can help you reverse the direction of the spiral so it goes upward.
Be mindful with what you spend your time on.
Do you spend your time watching the news and talking to your friends about bad things, or do you spend your time engaged in activities that make you feel good? If you really want to make a difference, engage in activities that make you feel better so you can energetically shift to an uplifted place. When you feel better, it has a ripple effect. People around you feel better and people around them feel better. Feeling bad and spiraling down also has a ripple effect and is not going to help the world in any way.
Maintain a daily Balance Practice.
The way I live my life is that I start each day with a Balance Practice. I spend 15 minutes every morning with self-Reiki and meditation. My sacred practice is very important to me. It makes me feel centered and grounded. It allows me to feel connected: connected to my heart, connected to my intuition, connected to my inner wisdom, connected to my inner-strength. Reiki is a Japanese healing and spiritual practice. It’s a simple way to tap into the energy of the universe and feel in alignment with it.
Your Balance Practice might be different than mine. Maybe you read scriptures in the morning or practice affirmations. Maybe you spend time in nature or drink a cup of tea quietly. There are endless ways to bring balance and harmony to your life. The key is to create a practice. Something you practice every day that helps you respond rather than react in a time of need.
You will want to develop a practice during quiet times when you can really be at peace. It’s too difficult to try to create a practice in a time of a crisis. Then, when you have to deal with something stressful or challenging, because you have an established daily practice, it is easier to shift your energy and bounce back.
The one thing we can do for sure about the violence in the world is to practice balance so we can personally grow and expand.
When each one of us will do just that, we might not change the world, but we will make a difference.