This post is for you, if you see danger in the places where others are seeking safety. If you found the courage to speak up, only to realise that no one was listening. If you just want to keep those around you safe, and your heart broke on the day you realised that you couldn’t.
I know that feeling well, but I don’t feel my stories around this are mine to tell. They involve friends and family members making personal health decisions that felt right to them – but which cause me fear and worry. Perhaps you can relate, based on that description alone.
I know the guilt, and the frustration, and the way you blame yourself. If I’d managed to say it differently, would they have understood? Did I push it too hard, or did I give up too easily? Did I say too much, or did I say too little? If I could go back in time, what else could I have said?
Eventually, you come to realise that you can’t change anyone’s mind. You can’t make them see things the way you do, and you can’t make decisions for them. That might be one of the hardest lessons we ever have to learn.
This post is to share three thoughts which have helped me.
- Control what you can, and that is yourself
My husband has tried to tell me this. My mum has tried to tell me this, and friends have tried to tell me this. I’ve read it in books, I’ve read it in blogs, I’ve heard it in podcasts. Maybe you need to hear it a million times, but one day it will sink in.
You can’t save the world on your own. You can’t even save one person, if they don’t want you to. You think that facts, figures and logic will work, but then they don’t. You think appealing to emotion will work, but then it doesn’t. One day, your words will change everything for someone – but you never know in advance when this day will come.
As so many people have tried to tell me – the one thing you can control is yourself, your own life, your own mindset, and your own responses to situations.
Back to basics, you need to take care of yourself. That means eating well, getting sunlight, getting enough sleep. Spending time in nature, spending time with people – as much as that’s possible in these strange times. Turning off your phone, or at least its notifications, at a certain time. Giving yourself the day off from worrying about the world.
Whatever your beliefs are about the current crisis, the last few months have been draining and exhausting for all of us. Being glued to the news (whether that’s the BBC News or 100 Telegram groups) won’t stop bad things from happening. You are allowed to think about something else, to order a pizza and watch a funny film. You’re not driving this car; you can close your eyes.
I really don’t like the argument that you should look after yourself in order to be there for others. That makes it seem like you don’t have value in your own right. But in the present moment, if your perspective means you want to help others avoid things which may be harmful… then please remember to put your own oxygen mask on first.
More than all of this, remember that your small actions matter. How you choose to live your life, where you get your food and how you cook it, how you raise your children, how you engage with your community. Often we feel so small, yet our actions can create ripple effects we never even see.
- Do your best, and then let it go
I’m a person who launches myself into projects, full of energy, enthusiasm and ideas. I set my sights on what I want to achieve, jump on the roller coaster and strap myself in. When all is going well, I’m buzzing. When a plan fails, I end up disheartened and despondent.
When you’re trying to change hearts and minds, the hardest task of all… you can’t put your heart and soul into the outcome. You just have to do what you can do, and then let it go. This is not the same as doing nothing. This is not about being passive. It’s about detaching from outcomes.
The way I see it, there have been a lot of lies and deception in the past year and we’re looking at a Jenga tower. Each block that we pull out could be the one that collapses the tower, but it might not be. If you were to start betting your savings on which block would topple the tower… you’d be on the edge of your seat.
Yet if you take the bigger picture, we know that the Jenga tower will fall. That’s inevitable, dictated by the laws of nature. All you need to do is play your part, pull out those blocks, and the tower will fall in time. Do your bit, and allow the rest to play out. I think this is the way to keep your sanity, when you feel like your efforts aren’t leading to something. They are. You just can’t see it right now.
- Know that you are part of something bigger
I grew up with a mum and dad who both had long, flowing hair. We lived in a house of incense and crystals, angel cards, organic food, macrobiotic food, yoga, and tai chi. So of course, all I wanted to do was eat white bread and sweets, and I ended up getting a job in the head office of a bank.
I’ve never been religious, and I suppose I’ve shunned any form of spirituality for most of my life.
But the year 2020 changed my perspective on a lot of things, and there is something in the notion that we’re all part of the same thing. I don’t understand quantum physics, but I know that we are all waves and particles and vibrating energy. We share the same earth, the same air, and a collective experience of being human.
Some people call it God, some call it spirituality, and others understand it as science, ecosystems and the laws of nature. But there is a perspective where we are all water droplets that make up a big wave. When you feel like your efforts don’t count for anything, that is a comforting thought. Just by doing your part, you are influencing something bigger.
Many of us perceive things that are dark, worrying and scary taking place at the moment. The way I see it, we are holding that knowledge on behalf of everyone. We are holding painful truths, and speaking up against a chorus of voices saying we’re wrong and dangerous. That act alone is enough.
There’s a paradox here. You can’t change the world. Yet, you already have.
Take care of yourself, and build the future you want in your own home and garden. Take action, speak up, whatever your revolution looks like – and then let the outcome go. Remember that you’re a water droplet in a huge wave, and know that this wave is powerful.