One of my most normal friends confided in me the other day. She said she’s feeling deeply anxious in a way she’s never experienced. She’s worried about being so worried.
My less normal friends and I have been feeling this way for a looooong time.
It’s not surprising that we’re freaked out. The world is shouting at us.
Wrong. Doom. Racist. Threat. Get out. Women-hating. War. Guns, guns and more guns. This election year will undoubtedly kick all this up a notch, if there is even a notch left to be kicked.
There is a growing mountain of evidence that our brains are hardwired for negativity. Think about it. We were able to survive through multimillions of years by remembering which berries made us puke and which of the other animals are inclined to attack or eat us. Whereas, remembering whether blueberries taste better than raspberries was of very little survival value. Positive experiences just don’t have the impact or the staying power in our brains.
Learning this helped me overcome the natural inclination toward the negative. I learned that I had to work harder to help the positive messages and experiences stick.
I’ve been paying attention to my amped up anxiety of late. And watching to see if doing stuff actually makes me feel better.
Last week, I went to a meeting of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. It’s ironic, but talking about guns made me feel better. Connecting with 25 like-minded women and men, walking away with two free gun locks to give away, and signing up for their lobby day felt good.
I’m donating $3/day to the gohomemalheur.org campaign. Where previously I was filled with rage at the overentitled white supremacist militant jerks holding the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge hostage, once I donated and saw that I’m in the company of so many others (all giving to organizations that the militants would loathe, including the Paiute Tribe and the Southern Poverty Law Center) I’m fine with what’s going on. They can stay as long as they want.
And finally, deep breath. I walked around Capitol Lake. Silently, in the tradition of Thich Nhat Hanh. At the conclusion of the walk, our leader suggested something he calls one finger Zen. Holding up his index finger, he mimed pressing down as he urged us to tap the off button.
Indeed. Walk away from your screen. Get off your couch. Go see for yourself if working for social justice helps.