Serenity and compassion in trying times

Be happy again: Normal looks different. We’re all currently in an abusive relationship with a narcissist. We’re all getting fucked over by this one person who exists at the boundary of evil and ill, and the other people who have joined the ranks. But this won’t go on forever. The bad feelings aren’t your fault, they’re not natural, and they won’t last forever; and in this case, there’s even a kind of relief valve, because it’s very easy to identify the exact cause of the bad feelings. It’s very clear that there is a specific cause. It’s not like “I’m depressed”, where it helps to put a label on it and externalize the cause of your suffering so you don’t blame yourself, but then you’re still left with no recourse against “depression” as a nebulous entity that can’t be attacked and repelled. No, this time there is a group of real physical people who are doing this to us on purpose, using easily recognizable media channels and tools. They almost certainly don’t understand the full implications of what they’re doing: “Forgive them for they know not what they do”, but don’t let that interfere with stopping them. Protect and defend yourself from the aggressors, using whatever means are most effective for you, and then heal your own heart by forgiving them.
 
On a practical level, here’s what I think that means: Seek, and exercise, the serenity to accept the things you cannot change, the strength to change the things you can, and the wisdom to know the difference. Approach the world with the open questioning attitude: What needs to be done? What can I do to help, and what can’t I do to help? Maybe for you, the only thing that you can really do is to help out at a local soup kitchen. Help the world in the way that you can, accept that you are doing your best in an imperfect world, and limit your news consumption to the minimum you need to stay safe from direct threats. Tornadoes, civil war, etc., these things will be clearly announced, you don’t need to obsess over the news to stay basically safe.
 
If awareness of the information-sphere is close to your core identity, and you live and thrive in that realm, then perhaps you help the world in a different domain. Maybe you help organize protests, and you stay abreast of breaking news so you know what you need to organize. Or maybe you volunteer with a group of tech activists who are archiving climate science data so it doesn’t get deleted, and as part of this work you stay informed of the relevant news. Whatever your way of expressing yourself positively in the world, the important thing is to have enough self-compassion to accept that you’re doing the best you can, you don’t have to do everything, you don’t have to do it perfectly, and you don’t have to torture yourself about the countless other things that you aren’t doing, because you’re only one person.
 
Just to be clear: Bad things are happening, for real. Self-compassion does not include denial and ignorance. Escapism might bring you peace briefly, but that won’t last. Peace in trying times comes from knowing that you are doing the best you can, and also having the compassion to let yourself abide in that space.

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