The invasion of Ukraine by Putin is a virus that will injure and kill countless human beings and continue to debilitate our sense of agency and unity. This attack is particularly egregious because it comes on the heels of COVID which has weakened tolerance, trust and energy globally. It is incumbent on us to address feelings of powerlessness and find ways to cultivate individual and collective agency. We can’t let this act of aggression distract our resolve and work to bring in a kinder, gentler world that is balanced and in harmony with nature and inner peace.
While viruses are recognized as a natural part of our ecosystem, the transmission of illness and disease can also be attributed to human behavior and activities such as health and well-being, sanitation measures or polluting. Similarly, while an invasion of a country or war may be accepted as a ‘normal’ in world history, they can also be perceived as indicative of destructive patterns of thinking.
Our perspective matters. Perspective influences how we respond individually and collectively. If we think an illness or an invasion are natural or inevitable conditions of humanity rather than something we can prevent or control— we may not feel a sense of agency. We may not take responsibility.
Social media, technology and news reporting have made it difficult to assess what’s true and what’s happening in the outside world. Still, we are effected intimately. Information about the pandemic or events surrounding a war can appear both clear-cut and elusive depending on how it is presented, but still, we are effected intimately. Extreme contrasts lead to confusion, feelings of powerlessness and greater division in society because we distrust what we can not see, we retreat.
How can we gain perspective at a time when we are faced with global conflicts that are complex and appear life-threatening? How can we mitigate feelings of powerlessness and continue to exercise agency?
Consider these strategies that can help keep your mind clear and focused on what matters:
- Balanced Technology
- Micro-Macro Thinking
- Seek Connection Novelty
Balanced Technology: Turn off your devices for a significant amount of time daily. This is not to say bury your head in the sand. Circumstances require you keep your eyes and ears open and that you read, however, information overload neutralizes sensitivity and our ability to discern the truth and the best response to a happening. Think about going into a perfume stop and trying on several fragrances one right after the other. Eventually, you can’t distinguish between scents. This is the same with information. Turn off your devices and replace moments with deliberate silent activities. Sit in meditation. Go for a long walk. No talking. Disconnect entirely from information bytes and input.
Micro-Macro Thinking: Make connections between what’s happening in your personal life to what’s happening in the world. This requires introspection. Pay attention to the fine details of your daily life and become aware of how you absorb and process your present experience. Then, slowly observe how similar patterns of thought and behavior appear reflected in situations in society. Ask: How does my personal experience (micro) show up in the collective space (macro)? What can I learn about these similarities?
Seek Connection Novelty: Do something new or spontaneous that involves another person. Connecting with a person (a friend, acquaintance, colleague), especially if they come from outside your ‘main’ circle– can be reaffirming that cultivating soft, kind and empathetic relationships matter. Often, when we’re bombarded with negative news, information overload or grappling with the stress of ongoing, confusing global events that make us feel pitted against each other and vulnerable–we stick in a closed circle, we shut down, we become repressed or defensive, we isolate and forget how to connect with others that may be different than ourselves. We need to practice simplicity and fearlessness with other people from all backgrounds. The novel experience can be as simple as getting together and telling an awkward truth, taking an unexplored route together, attending an event or simply breaking bread.