Times like these are hard for people like us – you and me – emotional people – to bear. I can only imagine that we all feel the same way. Overwhelmed. Outraged. Helpless.
I mean, for fuck’s sake – What has happened to us? What is wrong with our society? Why are we so addicted to watching every tiny piece of a tragedy or scandal unfold? Why are we willing to give so much energy to the things we can’t control and so little energy to the things that we can?
Whenever I sit on the couch, watching and internalizing horror story after horror story, it only leaves me feeling defeated; like I don’t know what I can possibly do to change a goddamn thing in this disaster of a reality we’re living in right now.
Yes, of course, there are always opportunities to have our voices heard in the public sphere. We can get involved in the political process. We can contact our local government representatives and voice our quarrels. We can join in peaceful protests and sign petitions in hopes of affecting policy change.
But what can we do on a day-to-day basis? What can we do on the ground level? How do we conduct ourselves in a way that breeds positivity and hopefulness when every day brings new heartbreak and new levels of disappointment in the morality (or lack thereof) of the powers that be?
Should we take to Facebook and write a bunch of posts declaring our complete and utter outrage? I dunno – Facebook feels like it’s over capacity for opinions right now, don’t you think? I mean, do we even really see these distressed posts anymore? Or do our eyes just glaze over as we desperately scroll for a funny meme or a cute baby video to numb the pain of seeing the world so clearly and evenly divided?
Well, today I propose we try something different.
Let’s commit to doing whatever we can in our everyday lives to make the people we actually interact with feel good and strong and supported during shit times like these.
In my brief stint on my planet, I’ve managed to figure out three things about human beings (shout out to Oprah for teaching me the majority of them)
- People want to feel heard.
- People want to feel appreciated.
- People want to feel validated.
These things make our friends, family, neighbours, local shop keepers, community activists, artists, etc. feel good. They make them feel valued. They encourage them to keep doing positive things for themselves and for others and I think that’s worth focusing on, and more importantly, worth passing on.
So what exactly does this emotional outreach look like?
It looks like taking the time to let people tell you about themselves – to let them tell you their stories.
It looks like allowing people the chance to show you something that they’re good at or passionate about.
It looks like being vocal when someone is doing something that you think is meaningful.
This is not the time to play it cool or to be selective with your praise. This is the time to throw that shit around like confetti. Actively support the people you genuinely believe in. Because people like us are tired as fuck. We are tapped out emotionally and we benefit not only from receiving encouragement, but from giving it as well.
Always remember: When you’re feeling helpless, help somebody. It doesn’t need to be a grand gesture. Just show some love – to the family you’ve got, to the artists you respect, and to the friends you admire. It may not feel like much but I can assure you that it’ll do more to change the world than Tweets and Facebook posts ever will.
Featured image by the brilliant Sara Shakeel