Surviving and Thriving During a Kerfuffle
My dears, we are living in a kerfuffle, which is a fun and fluffy sounding word describing a state of affairs that is anything but:
I love words. This is the main reason I became a writer. And kerfuffle is a nugget of awesome. It also happens to be the perfect word for all of my social media feeds and the world at large right now. (Hold tight, this isn't going to be a political rant.)
Now, while I love the word kerfuffle, I'm not so fond of the situation it defines so nicely. I'm a lover of peace and harmony. I'm a little bit like Rae, the main character in my not-yet-released novel I Wish You Happy. Rae is an empath who is nearly incapacitated at times by the intensity with which she feels people's emotions.
I don't think you need to be an empath to struggle with that problem right now. Raw, dramatic, emotions are blaring at us every time we open Facebook or Twitter. They are on every street corner, on the news. They are coming at us from family and friends, co-workers, and random people in the grocery store.
Unless you stay home, turn off all of the electronics, avoid all of the people, and stay curled into a ball in fetal position it's pretty much impossible to avoid the splatter. Even then, there's a problem, because chances are good that you too are having some messy emotions right about now.
So what are we to do?
I'm still working my way through the answers. But I believe the answer lies somewhere along the lines of the old saying: be the change you want to see in the world. Maybe we could switch it up a bit, and go with this:
This is NOT to say that we should just sit in our ivory towers and try to feel love and believe that's going to change anything. Love in action is important. I think we need to also DO things. Contribute to causes that matter. Join with others for peaceful demonstrations. (The women's march is a fantastic example of this. No violence. No arrests. But an incredible display of solidarity and HOPE.) Use the political channels. Do fact checking. Circulate facts. Donate time or money to causes that matter to you.
But emotion is what drives us to do things. Or keeps us from doing things. Or gets us so tangled up that we can't work through the conflict of WHAT to do. So let me suggest a few guidelines and then we can work it from there.
1. Negativity doesn't generally motivate change. It just tends to amplify into a mass bitchfest. I've been falling into this trap on Social Media. It feels good to retweet or share a post that is snarky and sarcastic, and if it's slamming something (or, I'm ashamed to say, someone) you think is wrong, then you also get to feel good and a little self righteous. There. I've done something positive to share the truth. Um, not so much. When we retweet and repost these things, I think we're preaching to the choir and promulgating ugly emotions. Nothing is accomplished. No purpose is served.
2. Maybe the best place for our messy and difficult emotions is in a private journal. Write them out. Allow yourself to feel them in all of their wide, glorious, and sometimes difficult intensity. Talk to a close friend. Engage a counselor. Emotions are important and need to be tended much like gardens. Take the time. Do the work.
3. Choose, consciously, what you want to project out into the world. Do loving kindness meditations. Radiate positivity. Amplify hope.
4. If you're just plain angry and your anger is justified, direct it somewhere. Anger is an incredibly powerful and useful emotion if it's harnessed. Not so much if it's just spinning aimlessly like a hamster on a wheel. Point it in a direction - not at people - and run with it.
In case anybody is wondering, I'm talking out loud to myself here. I do that. Feel free to hold me to these principles if you should happen to see me stray. Because I will. I'll need to check myself over and over again. I'm like that. Life is like that.
I'd love to hear your thoughts on this, and how you're all getting on.