Every morning when I sit down at my computer my fingers nervously tense around my coffee cup while the page loads. I’m worried about last night’s news. What might have happened while I was peacefully asleep? More tragedy? More injustice? More death and violence?
Recently, I’ve increasingly struggled with the widening gap between my life – and the lives of those affected by the news I read about. Sometimes I find the sense of powerlessness to be overwhelming. Why do we take the right to laugh, smile at the flowers, rejoice, have fabulous holidays, dine at nice restaurants – when there is so much suffering everywhere else?
What can be done? What can we do?
A substantial part of my reading consists of spiritual literature, and I often refer to Wayne Dyer when I’m looking for ideas or insights. From his books, as well as books by other authors, I’ve recently adopted an approach that makes me be more at peace, makes me feel less helpless, and overall more able to manage and channel the sadness and negativity that I’m absorbing daily by reading the news. (I’ve also looked into the “avoidance” approach, suggested by a few authors, but it simply doesn’t work for me. I want to read the news, as opposed to simply removing all exposure to negative news items.)
These are a few steps I’ve taken so far and I feel less paralysed, less negative:
- I realised that there are too many causes/cases of injustice/projects to be able to get involved in all of them in a meaningful way. Even trying to consider all of them felt overwhelming. I therefore decided to pick one cause that is very dear to my heart and set up a monthly, recurring donation. If for whatever reason I find myself with surplus cash at hand (for example after filing my tax return) I make a one-off donation on top. I also get involved on the non-monetary side, with projects and actions the charity is highlighting.
- I do what I can, where I am, with what I have. I realised that I won’t be able to do an awful lot about all causes that I’m passionate about, but having chosen one, I was then able to focus on my immediate surroundings. No one feels better if we let ourselves be dragged into negativity. It took me a long time (too long!) to realise that by spreading negativity and depressing thoughts here, we are not reducing suffering elsewhere. On the contrary, we are creating suffering right here, where we are. Not only are we not helping anyone affected by the news we read about, we are – subconsciously – making it our mission to drag more people down.
So far, it worked: I get a sense of “having taken action” by actually addressing one of the causes I feel strongly about. Following that, I then felt that I was able to spread positivity in my immediate surroundings, without any sense of guilt.
It’s certainly better than my previous approach: Moping, being depressed and disheartened – and making sure that everyone notices it!
What is your way of dealing with recent global events? How are you affected by reading negative news? Do you limit exposure/outbalance with positive news?
Please share your strategies in the comments!