How do you get unstuck from feeling like you're underwater?
In this world of mass home-grown gun violence that terrorizes our own children, whom clearly we value less than the need to have a gun (how does this even make sense?), and the gross news cycle that spits out one man's name over and over to sell stuff to you, how do we cope? Addicted to your phone, where all the good people who know how to do things right are on vacation, how do we cope? With the the pitiful state of war in many small and large countries, the climate dis-regulation and the bipolar weather, how do we cope? Watching the violence on TV that mimics our own worst natures, how do we cope? Sounds like the four questions.
My friends the answer is to engender hope. To be creative. To make community. To work less. No one has ever come to my office and said, "I'm here because I wish I had worked more." Au contraire. We are wired for attachment: to our parents and friends and lovers. So how do you make your life meaningful in a sea of confusion?
If you're an adolescent and you see the world around you going to pot - indeed imploding - how do you find the motivation to carry on? My father wisely said everything is cyclical. Wait it out. Sit with it. Be patient with yourself. Be a container. Be mindful. But wait - why is nothing working? Did you try to change anything? I am trying to only do one thing at a time - because that's all you can do anyway. What did you change today? Walk the other way around the block next time.
If you've listened to the masters of Trauma: Peter Levine, Bessel van der Kolk (whom I got to meet in person), or Tara Brach, Gabor Mate, you will note that trauma lives in the body. You will soon realize that if our children are seeing mass shooters and bloody children, their classmates, our future, lying dead before them, and they begin to develop school anxiety, avoidance behaviors, sulky moods and post-pandemic stress, this is REAL. It's not TV. It's not 13 Reasons Why -- more like 13 Reasons Why Not. Suicide is real. No other civilized country in the world operates like this. Many well-tested interventions exist that can reduce gun violence. It's not that shocking. With no controls whatsoever on purchasing a deadly weapon which only purpose is to commit murder, what we are seeing is daily tragedy - what do you think that does to people, besides make them numb? Last month the shooter was at a college near where my daughter is at college. Which one will be next? If we do nothing, nothing changes. Remember this. Remember the mental health crisis of children in 2023 because in ten or 20 years you won't wonder why they can't manage - you'll know. It was our collective inaction.