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Finding Courage Even When You’re Overwhelmed by the State of the World
With so much happening in the world today, it's natural to feel overwhelmed by the headlines. From TV news to social media, we're inundated daily with stories of suffering from across the globe.
Forest fires, war, climate change, violence against innocents… these are not small things. So, how do you function when it feels like there's no good news to be found? How do you find the courage to embrace hope and joy when the future of humanity looks bleak? In this episode we talk about it.
Signs Of Overwhelm
Distress, burnout, trauma
If you notice yourself feeling more exhausted than usual, or perhaps having higher levels of distress about things that are happening to other people (what you read or watch online), you are likely in a state of overwhelm. Moreover, it's useful to be aware that people who have high levels of compassion and empathy may feel these things on an even deeper level.
That ‘why can’t I just snap out of it?’ feeling
If there are changes in how you normally recuperate from heavy feelings and bad news, chances are you are overwhelmed by it. We all have different ways of bounding back, but if you notice yourself dwelling over some article you read online or a harrowing video you watched, you are not alone in this.
Another sign is that your frustration is at an all time high. It's normal to feel irritation from time to time, but if this is a recurring theme you may be grappling with burnout or compassion fatigue.
How to Address Overwhelm
Know that it’s real
The first step is to notice what's happening. Acknowledgement is important - it can take time for us to process things that we observe. We can't process what we don't name.
Acknowledge the existence of trauma
There are two main types of trauma we can experience when we’re overwhelmed by terrible global events:
- Direct traumatization - this is when the events in question impact you personally
- Vicarious traumatization - this can look like compassion fatigue, which is experienced by empathetic people after long, continuous exposure to other people’s pain.
You’re most prone to the latter if you’re a front-line social worker, first responder, journalist, therapist, humanitarian worker, or other helping professional. And yes, this can include life coaches. By acknowledging the existence of these two types of trauma and saying to yourself ‘I am traumatized,’ when that is in fact the case, you're one step closer to getting relief.
Don’t let yourself sink in it
Being informed is key here. When we take in a lot of difficult things, it's easy to drown in a state of hopelessness. Thus, being informed on the signs of overwhelm is one way we find courage to remain openhearted and present to the world... without becoming overwhelmed by it.
It's okay to feel the weight of these thing, but be sure to get support if you feel that heaviness overtaking you.
Know that both hopeful and distressing things exist - and are equal
When distressing things happen, we tend to focus on it and it alone. Everything else melts away, including what's going right in the world around us.
Give yourself the nourishment in whatever forms work best for you. Nature. Art. Music. Time with friends and family. Alongside the devistation, there is also beauty. Always. Cultivating positive emotions is an evidence-based means of achieving post-traumatic growth.
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