The 7 steps we can take to calm it down
In 2003 I wrote a column for the local paper about the growing lack of civility in politics and news media. Here we are 15 years later and culturally we are angrier, ruder, more quarrelsome, more anxious and stressed, and have a new outlet for nasty discourse: social media.
Technology has played a role in this. We can’t get a break from news, rumors, crises, and notifications of tweets, ‘likes’, emails, texts, private messages, and Facebook telling us our fans haven’t heard from us in a while!! Vivek Wadhwa, distinguished fellow at Harvard and Carnegie Mellon, just released a book, Your Happiness Was Hacked: Why Tech is Winning the Battle to Control Your Brain—and How to Fight Back. In an interview he said the tech industry knows full well how they got us hooked on answering those texts, worrying about likes, and responding to those little red bubbles on our phones. It throws us off balance, reducing our chances of having a sense of wellbeing and increasing the chance of irritation or feeling overwhelmed.
With the state of the world and politics in this modern life many of us are getting angrier and angrier. Let’s look at this. Anger is a natural human emotion. It is neither right nor wrong. On a scale of emotions from negative to positive its near the bottom, but above apathy, hatred, fear and unworthiness. Certainly, fear plays a significant role in anger. Inherent in anger is a fearful feeling of powerlessness or a lack of control. If we had control, we would change what was making us angry!
We grew up in cultures where it was discouraged to show anger, as if anger is not allowed. Of course, if it is denied—doesn’t get relieved—it’s harbored within, expressing itself in destructive ways and eventually affecting our health. On top of that, many of us weren’t taught how to cope with strong emotions. Undigested anger comes out in so many ways.
Extreme judgmental behavior
Trolling (make a deliberately offensive or provocative online post with the aim of upsetting someone or eliciting an angry response from them.)
Physical symptoms: constricted muscles, poor digestion, inflammation, tendency for skin rashes, or heart disease to name a few.
While we’re angry, solutions are blocked, visions of higher possibilities vanish.
In its best function, anger is useful to move us through a bad situation. It can give us the energy we need to make a needed change in our lives, to right wrongs, to stop others from doing something harmful, and to transition ourselves from lethargy to taking an active role in our lives, moving us to a higher state of being. Anger does make us feel more powerful temporarily. When it becomes destructive is when we don’t have an outlet, don’t take any action, and have not learned methods of moving through the anger to a better feeling place.
We could be on the edge of a spilling over of anger that we haven’t seen since the 1960s, when people took to the streets to protest, even riot with the extreme anger over everything going on at that time.
What do we do when our irritation, anger, or frustration rises up? Understanding what is going on in your brain first can prepare you. Our higher brain functions are used logically and calmly, but when we get afraid, threatened, or angered, our reptilian brain—the primitive part that is designed for survival—gets engaged, high-jacking these higher functions. The fight or flight response takes over, instincts that prepare us to run or fight.
What can we do? I hear people talk about feeling so helpless as they learn about the atrocities going on in the world. The injustices, the suffering, the political vitriol, the violence, killing, the frightened, the wars and battles going on day in and day out. When we lived in small farming communities we weren’t exposed to daily and hourly news of horrific things.
The best way to deal with all this? I have a few ideas to help you reframe the suffering going on living on planet earth and help yourself cope to regain some balance.
- As always, first take care of yourself. If you are going to be of any help to anyone, you must build strength within.
- Get a good night’s sleep. Turn off the TV by 9:00. Read uplifting literature, articles, scripture or spiritual texts.
- Spend some quiet time every day in prayer, meditation, or walking in nature.
- Treat yourself to a massage regularly or/and give yourself a massage with scented oils before you shower.
- Eat light, lots of natural vegetables, legumes, fruit, seeds, nuts, & limit your animal protein.
- When your mind is stuck on judgements or the negatives around you, grab a pen and paper or get on your device and write all your thoughts down. Its a download of all the garbage you need to get out of your head. This is especially helpful before you go to sleep.
- When you are feeling down, angry, or sad, these feelings are held within your body. If you just try to think happy thoughts and repress them, they will continue to rise up until you deal with them. They want acknowledgment! They are valid and your truth. Sit with them and allow them their existence. Sense where you feel them within. Your heart, chest, stomach, neck? Embrace them with your attention. It may take several times, but you will notice the tightness, the constriction, the pressure or pain begin to ease and disperse once you’ve given them permission to be.
- One of the reasons we feel helpless is because we feel like there isn’t anything we can do. Do some small thing every day to make someone’s mood better, or write your politicians, give to a charity, volunteer, make a phone call to someone who is lonely, visit someone who is in the hospital, teach a child, teach a class, or write your ideas and solutions are just a few anyone can do!
- As you bring yourself into alignment with your higher self, as your consciousness is raised, you will notice you are developing a deeper understanding of others actions. You will start to see everyone is doing the best they can from where they are at the moment. This will help toward lessening your automatic response to the news with anger or fear. You will understand the causes.
- You will see this world is wonderful and beautiful even with the suffering that is always going on. The world has always been this way. As we grow and evolve we can impact the world by just being who we are. And as we evolve, the more impact we will have on the whole, each and every one of us.