What REALLY matters to us?

This week has been full of mixed emotions for me. There have been stresses and strains, worries, ups and downs, highs and lows and most importantly, good times. Times catching up with good friends, happy phone calls from family members, important birthdays, and pleasant interactions with kindly strangers.

Sitting watching the early evening news a few days ago I started reflecting on some of the headlines and felt immense sadness when thinking of some of the terrible things decent ordinary people were going through or had had inflicted on them, sometimes with devastating results for themselves and their families. Many times I have written about the pain we feel as we watch the news and have to deal with often unfathomable occurrences and unspeakably dreadful actions, the results of which are beamed into our living rooms.  Then there are times we sit dumfounded as we witness the latest political debacle and the seemingly unfair systems that seem to make the rich richer and the poor poorer.

And yet still we find ourselves sweating the small stuff when we go about our daily lives.

We may meditate, read every self help book we can, listen to all the podcasts about positivity we can get our hands on to help us cope with an ever tumultuous world. We may chant, commune with nature, speak to our angels and watch our diet. All these things help at times and give us nuggets of information and inspiration that many times prove to be invaluable. Trust me, I believe. I believe in trying every sensible (and sometimes not so sensible) path to acceptance and understanding. That path that shows us there is a reason for everything and an explanation for everything even when we cannot see it and rail against it. But there are days when it is really hard to stay focused and remind ourselves of all the ways of coping we have learned. These are the days when I guess we just need to go back to basics and remind ourselves of all the things in our lives that are important and reaffirm them.

I remind myself that the people I love and admire for their strength and the way they cope with life did not get that way because their lives always worked out. They got that way because stuff went wrong and they handled it. They handled it in many different ways and at different times, and they got through. I look up to them for sure.

We need to keep our lives in order. Of course we do. Most of us need to work and earn money to support our families. We need to cook, clean and keep our house tidy(ish) We need to keep ourselves in shape and look reasonable. We need to offer support to those that need it and need us. But I for one, need to tell myself in stressful times that the everyday petty trials and tribulations just don’t matter and will be mainly forgotten by next week. Even what we perceive to be major problems will fade to insignificance over the years.

I’m aware of getting older and my thinking is changing with the years. I see it more clearly when people around me are struggling. I can visualise possible outcomes and weigh up situations in a more balanced way than when I did when I was younger. This is both good and bad. On the one hand it is sensible to be prepared and to be empathetic but at the same time the buoyancy of youth is gone: the feeling of being invincible.  But life follows patterns, we change and learn as we go. Some of us learn more quickly  than others. Some young people have a wise head on young shoulders. Some older people never really grow up. This is all part of life’s rich pattern.

The question to ask ourselves, whoever we are, is what really matters to us, what makes us happy, what keeps us sane? Once we remember who we are and remember to reach out to those we love, and once we enjoy the simple things in life while we can, we will at least find it easier to reconnect to what is good.

But if I cannot change the world, I can bend when the storm appears; Do great things in smaller ways, Dry another’s tears.’

When the notes are wrong make them your best tune ….

August is here and walking out from Dove Lane this morning I could sense a wistfulness in the air – a glimpse of change. The air is still very warm and the grass is still scorched from the long, hot days but the blackberries are ripe in the hedges and there are some dry leaves crunching beneath my feet. Could it be be that Autumn waits in the wings and cooler air may eventually whisper through the trees? We still have warm days to enjoy and balmy evenings to enhance that summer holiday feeling but perhaps we sense the gradual shortening of the days.

For some of us, any change, even a change in the seasons can encourage feelings of unrest if we are prone to anxious feelings. Sometimes it isn’t always easy to walk forward and embrace the next stage of our lives. Perhaps we feel events are looming we would rather not think about or we find it hard to be positive and look at the bigger picture. Maybe we are worried about past mistakes or imagined difficulties. Maybe we feel fearful because we hear and read so much in the media that unsettles us. Most of us have days where we feel everything seems to be against us, or perhaps we can’t seem to focus or get things right. Just like a composer writing a song – sometimes the notes just come out wrong.

Often there can be times when we feel out of tune with our surroundings.  Maybe we are not in the right frame of mind to listen to or appreciate what we are seeing or hearing.  I guess life is a bit like that – we can be swamped with worries or negative emotions at times, or even just the chaos of a busy day, so that all the good sights and sounds around us are smothered or blurred around the edges. But if we manage to take some time out  – perhaps go and have a walk in the woods or just take ten minutes out of a busy day to have some quiet time – then we can often find we can enjoy the very things we previously felt out of kilter with.

In unhappy or muddled times, remember the clouds will pass. And the sooner you welcome the sun the sooner it appears. I find that remembering what I am grateful for helps me get through jittery times. I have learned through past experiences what supportive friends I have and also, how self reliant I can be when I have to. Also, I remind myself how limited our time on this planet truly is (I don’t mean that in a gloom and doom way but I use it to remind me that every second counts).

We are all connected and even if you feel you are struggling, remind yourself there is someone somewhere going through the same thing as you, and they are getting through it just like you will. You can dwell on what isn’t going your way or you can focus on what you have within your power to change.

If you think about what would happen if you just allowed yourself to live in the moment and not think about your current situation, how might that feel? Sometimes life is not about dreams coming true but what we learn when we take our path through life. There are times when we need to let go of our expectations and actually just concentrate on what is happening today. And remember, those past experiences or perceived missed opportunities we dwell on have actually made us stronger and given us our character.

So lets think again about a composer writing a song and this time the composer is you;  even if your notes seem to sound wrong , they are your notes and you can turn them into the best song of all. Your song.

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Coping With Fear in a Scary World.

How can we manage our anxiety about world events?

It is easy to get anxious when we hear upsetting reports on the news especially when it is difficult to fathom out the reasoning behind the awful headlines reported. I found it hard to process the news last night of children being separated from their families at the U.S. border. What astounds me and upsets me the most is that those in power don’t always see, or want to see, what is directly in front of them. Sticking to the rules seems more important that basic humanity. How can it ever be right to know a child is distraught by being kept from its parents and do nothing? How can it ever be right to use this as a lesson to deter any already distressed or displaced person contemplating entering a country illegally? Whatever our political leanings how can we ever forget to show love and compassion?

As I write this, thankfully, it sounds as though there has been a u – turn in the policy and that this rule will now be lifted, although it will take a while to create order and reunite families.

Is there a good way to manage anxiety about world events if you’re the sort of person to take the weight of the world on your shoulders? If you feel like the world is falling apart, you’re not alone. Although empathy is more acutely developed in highly sensitive people, you don’t have to be ultra sensitive to feel anxious. It’s pretty easy to feel overwhelmed these days; everywhere we turn, it seems we see endless violence and natural disasters. Managing the anxiety caused by world events takes strength and helpful tactics.

Tragedy and violence affects a lot of us deeply. While most feel some sense of empathy, if we are highly sensitive we may respond to the news by subconsciously absorbing the emotions of the world into our bodies. That makes it more difficult to manage anxiety about world events. If we’re not careful, carrying the weight of the world can result in physical and mental illnesses, including anxiety symptoms.

Today we’re inundated with negative world events that create anxiety and it’s tough to manage. And it’s no secret that social media can magnify anxiety. Our constant connectedness makes it easy to fall prey to the idea that the world is more dangerous than ever. It’s true there are some horrific events happening, but we’re also more aware of them. Twenty years ago, there were events that simply didn’t reach our radar.

Every time we see, hear, or experience an event that induces fear, we condition our minds and bodies to view the world as dangerous. And the more worry you pile on, the worse anxiety becomes.

Managing anxiety about world events.

1. Limit your intake of media.

While it’s important to be informed and engaged in what’s going on in world events, you can manage anxiety if you don’t let the media consume your day. It is a good idea to turn off your social media notifications from time to time. Pay attention to what you listen to and read and notice how you feel – if you begin to feel tense and sad when listening to the news, turn it off.

2. Be mindful of what you say and how you say it.

It is easy to rant about a subject close to your heart – when you read or hear something that upsets you or you feel is unjust you may feel the need to vent your feelings, but sometimes this can evoke more anxiety. Think about what is important to you in a positive way and perhaps share that instead. In the long run this is more empowering.

3. Seek out heartwarming stories.

It’s amazing how there can be sudden turns in events just when it was thought a situation was dire. And sometimes on a particularly bad day someone can show an incredible act of kindness out of the blue and reaffirm the sheer goodness in the world that is often hidden. This is the time to share good news and also encourages you to look closer to home for what is important.

4. Look after yourself.

Take a short break from social media and use that time to meditate, exercise, or take a walk in nature. Self-care is not selfish. It is the very thing we need to stay mentally and physically healthy, which in turn helps us manage anxiety about world events.

5. Do something positive.

Tangible actions can be big or small, but doing something to move our world toward greater health is important. And serving others also helps alleviate anxiety. Imagine if everyone were to make a small donation to a relief organisation or join a peaceful group of like-minded people, the effects would make a huge difference.

‘There is a golden thread, that runs through every religion in the world. There is a golden thread that runs through the lives and the teachings of the prophets, seers, sages, and saviours in the world’s history, through the lives of all men and women of truly great and lasting power.’ This was written by the author Ralph Waldo Trine in his book ‘In Tune With the Infinite’ in 1897. It is interesting that Trine opens the book with a message for us – one that would be every bit as fitting today as it was in then. He notes that (then) we were born into a strange time – a time that tries men’s souls. Also, he states that bewilderment and fear grips many and that change and uncertainty stalk through the land – all lands. Sounds familiar doesn’t it?

Deep down we know there must be a better way. And we are not alone. Between us, we have the enormous potential to bring about change, both in businesses, our own lives, and all around the world and to hold a peaceful but determined thought in our minds to bring about change; change for a better and an enlightened world. We don’t need to lay down barriers and rules, for these become obsolete when we are completely united for the common good.

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