By Jenna Hendriksen, MA, MFT-LP
As a country, we are suffering. We are overwhelmed with emotion; trying to grasp what is going on in the world. Between Covid-19 and yet another act of police brutality shining light on racism and injustice in our country, we are feeling at a loss. Be kind to one another; It is important to remember we are all in this together. Here are some ways you can cope with what's going on in the world and contribute in a positive and meaningful way.
Emotional Awareness and Expression.
It is important to acknowledge our feelings as it pertains to the recent series of events. How are you processing each emotional experience? To truly understand how you are feeling, slow down and get curious about how your body feels in your emotion. Our emotions are a neurological experience and we explain it using feelings words. Most often emotion is felt in your heart, lungs and digestive system because the nervous system drives emotion through the body. Now you know where your emotion is held. Next, access the emotion stored in those places of tension. Name the feeling, name its root cause, perhaps even see what defenses the emotion leads you to do in behavior. And then what underlying messages are you telling yourself that calm or agitate your emotional state? And what behaviors are we proud of and feel guilty about?
“Education, in the broadest of truest sense, will make an individual seek to help all people, regardless of race, regardless of color, regardless of condition”, George Washington Carver. One of the many ways to educate yourself is to read: history books, personal testimonies, accredited news articles. GoodGoodGood.com and Forbes.com have some great resources. Discover perspectives that are different from your own. You will never be able to truly walk in someone else’s shoes, however through education you can work towards an understanding which will allow you to support.
Talk & Empathize.
Have tough conversations! Our country is filled with people from all different walks of life. No two people have the same story. Start talking about it. Ask your family, friends, coworkers, neighbors what they’re experiences have been like. How have they felt injustice in their life? As someone who may look different than them, how can you help? These conversations will be difficult and they will be emotional, yet your act of listening brings you one step closer to creating change. Empathize, show compassion for their stories. Remind your loved ones and strangers that we are in this together and they are heard.
Volunteer & Donate
Volunteering is a powerful way to understand the path someone else walks. This gives the opportunity to connect with the community. Today.com outlines different ways to donate in your area. Find your passion and give it back to those who may not be able to access it. There are ample opportunities to donate and give back. This can be small, within your community, or a nationwide effort. Decide what cause feels right for you. There is no correct amount to donate, every dollar counts.
Make a call & Sign a Petition
Change.org is dedicated to finding existing petitions that support your cause. Give your support from anywhere. Every signature is one step closer to change. You can also call state and local leaders pushing for a change in policy. These are ways to use your voice from anywhere in the world.
Your voice is powerful and you have the strength to use it. Taking action comforts the suffering and pain we feel under our circumstances of intense stress. As Martin Luther King once said, “We may all have come from different ships, but we are in the same boat now.” We are all in this together.