Just Because The News Is Out Of Control, Doesn’t Mean You Have To Be
These days, we are on an emotional rollercoaster and no matter what happens with the current painful political situation in the United States, this “thrill ride” is not ending anytime soon. Things have really heated up with our country’s multiple crises. Therefore, many people I know are looking for spiritual tips to maintain balance during this time.
Tuning in to the news and social media can feel like “one long primal scream”, as one follower wrote me. The very idea that justice will be thwarted strikes fear into our hearts. We want justice to prevail. More than anything, we want the truth to come to light. All of it. And we want this to never happen again.
But the real question for us day-to-day is how we maintain equanimity and balance in these unprecedented times.
That is why I am sharing with you 7 spiritual tips to navigate this treacherous time we are in.
1. Don’t Catastrophize: Work With What You Know Now
Our minds are always scanning the environment for danger. This is how we have survived from ancient times. However, when we constantly engage in “what if” scenarios, this is not helpful or healthy.
Stay with what you know, moment by moment. Notice how much you enter into “catastrophizing” about what might happen.
Instead of going from, “we lost this court case” to “this will be the end of democracy”, pull yourself back from the brink and stay with the here-and-now.
2. Gather Your People & Don’t Engage in Fights
Gather your people – the ones that either help you keep perspective, or who remind you of what is true. Call a friend and make a date for lunch or a walk.
Community makes everything better and more bearable.
Online, make sure you follow people whom you trust, and who are uplifting or just plain honest. Follow people who make you laugh.
If being online is difficult because of infighting, you can set your privacy settings to only see posts or tweets from people you follow.
Stay out of the trash heap and avoid negative people. It IS possible to create an online community filled with truth-tellers and inspiration, or with dog and cat videos that make you smile.
Most importantly: stop trying to change people or engaging with people who push your buttons. Remember Maya Angelou’s famous saying, “When people show you who they are, believe them.”
3. Do Not Abandon Your Core Values
Remind yourself of what you believe in. Take a few moments and write down what you know to be true.
I believe that justice will prevail. I trust that people are generally good at heart. I have faith that eventually, the truth emerges. I maintain that good people working together can accomplish anything. I know that kindness heals.
Keep your core values in front of you. Perhaps put one or two on a post-it on your refrigerator or by your nightstand.
There is a beautiful Jewish teaching included in the Shema, our most essential prayer, that we should keep our most central beliefs in front of us at all times so that we remember.
4. Fill Your Cup: Revisit Teachings From Your Faith (or others)
You have probably heard the aphorism “there are no atheists in foxholes”. Challenging times often call for universal teachings that have held true over the centuries.
For example, I find comfort in the Jewish tradition’s insistence to “love the stranger” repeated more than 36 times in the Hebrew Bible. During the assault on immigrants and asylum seekers, I re-visit these teaching regularly.
Also, there are several verses that roll around in my mind: Justice justice shall you pursue: “tzedek tzedek tirdof“ (Deuteronomy 16:20) and – “Let justice well up like water, Righteousness like an unfailing stream.”(Amos 5:24).
Whether you are an atheist, or find comfort in universal teachings, or find the kernel of truth in many different religions, now is a good time to seek out spiritual wisdom.
5. Remember Inspirational Leaders Who Have Survived Difficult Times:
“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” from “Man’s Search for Meaning”.
Remember the people who came before you and how they endured painful times.
In times like this, I always think of Viktor Frankl, who not only survived the Nazi concentration camps but then wrote a book Man’s Search for Meaning, a lasting gift to the world. I wonder how was able to see kindness, even at Auschwitz. If he could find it there than we can too.
I also remember Dr. Martin Luther King, and his deep belief in non-violence in the face of enormous hate and crippling injustice. I think of the speech where he quoted Unitarian Minister Theodore Parker and said, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice”.
Another great teacher who I bring to mind is Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, who escaped Nazi Germany, and whose family was murdered – yet he ended up writing about the importance of prayer, and living a life of awe and wonder.
6. Take Time For Beauty
A profound teaching that I learned from my Jewish-Buddhist teachers is simply: this…and…this, too. It means that to live a life of equanimity, we have to include it all.
Therefore, on difficult news days, make sure you take time to find beauty.
YES – this is a scary news story, but – look at THESE flowers just beginning to bloom.
Our core democratic values are being assaulted, but THIS cello piece of music is glorious.
SURE – some people believe the lies, but ALSO – look at this beautiful newborn baby.
Honestly, it is essential to consciously seek out balance from the awful. Seeking awe is a spiritual practice.
7. Find Humor
Every day, find laughter. This is truly one reason I love twitter. In the midst of the most depressing news, inevitably someone creates a hashtag or thread that is hilarious. My faith in humanity is lifted by creativity. There are certain accounts I follow for the sole purpose that they make me laugh out loud.
The other day, I tweeted this:
I’m creating a list of go-to OMG phrases. 1st is: Ein li koach (Hebrew for “I have no strength for this BS: אין לי כוח) What are yours? (Please translate)
I received countless replies of OMG in different languages and cultures, such as “Noch dos felt mir. Translation: “This I don’t need” from the Yiddish and “El que con lobos anda, a aullar se enseña.” Translation: “He who runs with wolves will learn to howl.”
Laughter provides needed relief. Watching old Seinfeld shows, or clips of dogs and cats acting silly, babies laughing – make sure you balance your days with humor.
I hope you have found these tips helpful. Let me know. You can comment below.
Who your tried-and-true heroes and spiritual teachers?
Where do you find laughter?
What regular spiritual practices do you do that keep you centered?
Finally, if you need some extra spiritual guidance or support, let me know. I’m happy to set up a 20 minute conversation to see if it’s a fit for you.