Finding Freedom in the Midst of Challenging Times

Somewhere along the way I learned to avoid the things that scared me. Is this true for you, too?

Sometimes they were little, little things. Other times they were big. These days, we find ourselves faced with a rushing river of news that can overwhelm the senses.

Orlando. Paris. Brussels. Combative election vitriol. Indiscriminate weapons access. Human suffering on a massive scale. All this and much more…blaring 24/7.

“The world is too much with us…”  – William Wordsworth

Doing our best to avoid what scares us is understandable. External events get into our minds and hearts and it feels unbearable sometimes.

Society conditions us and parents instructed us to respond to this question:

How can I STOP feeling this?

As a result, we learn to silence our anger, suppress our grief. The default behaviors vary among us. Some shut down. Retreat. Others lash out. Binge on media news feeds. Grasp for guarantees. Turn to numbing behaviors. Deny. Pray.

ANYTHING JUST SO I DON’T HAVE TO FEEL: Uncomfortable. Sad. Angry. Out of control. Hopeless.

For many of us, the train stops here. At Default Station.

I’m not saying these aren’t times when our default is what we choose or what we have access to.

Have you ever wondered how is it possible to feel some sense of grounded in the midst of a world seemingly gone mad?

I have. And my answer may surprise you.

You see, I believe the answer is actually a question.

I prefer to FLIP the question, as in HOW CAN I FEEL THIS? Truly feel it?  The answer lies in our willingness to acknowledge,
p-a-u-s-e,
and trust…to name and allow the experience to feel.

Here’s why it’s important: When we rely solely on our default mechanism, we don’t shift into growth from that place.

Powerful emotions deserve our respect.

They may be used as powerful fuel for creating constructive lasting resilience in ourselves and others.

Just as being driven by fear might cause us to be hesitant or double-down-on-doing, when we allow for pain as authentic response to circumstances in the world today, a willingness to name and be with the pain, it will result in feeling more whole, vulnerable and empowered.

“We have more possibilities in each moment than we realize.” – Thich Nhat Hanh

When we let ourselves feel what we feel, reflect and trust we have the capacity to remember and honor, yet let go, we realize we have the capacity to feel deeply, survive and grow.

You are more than the face you show to the world.

You are raw and beautiful as you are.

When the storm cloud comes and you are drenched from the rain, remember: You are not alone. Our struggles, our pain, inform us deeply.

Use painful emotion as a signal to

  • feel it
  • name it
  • release it
  • move forward

Open your heart to live more fully.

Lock your gears in park and it robs you and others of your gifts, your greater capacities.

When the weight of the world is getting you down, try getting lost in something that gets you out of your head and brings you joy.

Would You Like Some Ideas for Grounding Yourself in Challenging Times?

Here are some worth exploring. Thanks to those individuals who contributed ideas for coping and living with compassion in these trying times:

Take a social media vacation.

Get up and move.
Do yoga.
Meditate.
Journal.
Express gratitude.
Listen to or make music.
Cook.
Garden.
Do something nice for someone.
Go out in nature.
Hug your loved ones.
Smile at a stranger.
Make art.
Read.
Rest.

Additional Resources for Centering in Challenging Times

Pema Chodron

When Things Fall Apart
The Places that Scare You

Jon Kabat-Zinn

Wherever You Go, There You are

The Arbinger Institute

The Anatomy of Peace: Resolving the Heart of Conflict

Guided Meditation to Reduce Stress

Curated List of Guided Meditations Coaches Love

How do you cope and show yourself and others compassion during challenging times? What would you add to the list?

What’s ONE ACTION you could take today to move through the fear?

Please leave a comment on below or share on Facebook so we can all learn.

And if there’s someone you know who could use a hand with centering, coping and compassion practices, please share this post with them.