How to Deal with Tragedy

June 16, 2016

I don’t watch or read the news.
I stopped probably five or six years ago.

Honestly, I stopped because I had to.

I’m a highly sensitive empath and the weight of the world is too much for my heart to handle at times, as big and vastly loving as it might be. Because when I watched or read the news — which structures itself intentionally to feed fear and frenzy and panic in its viewers — it flattened me, sometimes for days and weeks at a time.

Not watching the news doesn’t mean I’m not aware of what’s happening in the world around me… because I’m on social media, because the radio stations sporadically give news updates, and mostly because I’m surrounded by so many beautiful, passionate, caring, and purposeful souls who are constantly taking a stand for the things that matter most to them.

So… I know about the tragedy that happened in Orlando.
I heard all about Brock Turner and his “sentence.”
I’m aware of the ridiculousness that is our political scene right now.

And that’s just recent news from the United States.

Several years ago, news like this would have brought me to my knees and made me wonder what the point of this life was. I used to be convinced all people were awful creatures. I used to hate the world. I used to be so deflated by the day-to-day horrors that I could hardly function. And if I could muster up the strength to try and do something about it all, I would be paralyzed by the enormous amount of suffering around me, not knowing where to start.

I understand how terrifying it can feel to be alive in the world right now. I understand how devastating and frustrating it can be to watch as so much horror, suffering, violence, and hatred spreads across the globe. I understand how easy it is to focus on all that’s wrong… to be angry when it feels like not enough is being done to create the changes we all need and crave.

While it’s hard not to try and solve all the problems in this world, now more than ever, we have to focus on our own work.

It took a long time, but I’ve finally learned that I’m only one person, and I simply can’t bear the weight of the world on these little shoulders of mine. I can’t solve all the problems, all the time, for all the people. No one can.

What we can do, however, is our individual work in this world.

The truth is, not every tragedy, environmental challenge, social injustice, political misstep, or world conflict is aligned with my work. This breaks my heart, because I still want nothing more than to fix all that’s broken and damaged in this world, but I’m just one person. I’m not here to fix the whole world… and neither are you.

Now, before you get upset, hear me out.

This isn’t a post about “things just being the way they are.” This isn’t a post about indifference or ignoring all that pains our souls. This is a post about stepping up and making a difference in the only way that we really can.

Because despite not being here to fix the world, we’re absolutely here to contribute in very specific ways. I’m called to do very specific work — as are you — and that work has a ripple effect out into the lives of others, as well as their communities and the world around us.

This world is tragic and hard, and it breaks my heart in a hundred ways every single day. But I truly believe that our purpose comes from our pain, and my personal pain is deeply rooted in depression, suicide, grief, and all the ways we lose ourselves along the journey. My passion is helping people fully choose to stay, and teaching them what it means to live life fully aligned and fully expressed, so they can go on and contribute/heal/teach in all the ways I can’t.

This is my work, my purpose, my calling.
This is how I heal broken hearts of all kinds.
This is how I reduce the suffering that surrounds me.
This is how I impact the world, however big or small, far or wide.
This is how I make sense of all that is tragic and hard.
This is how I find beauty and joy in a world that is messy and chaotic.

So, regardless of how overwhelming the world feels right now, I want you to know that you have everything you need to create the change you want to see… right now. Simply because you’re here. Because you have a heart that cries out loudly around specific injustices. Simply because you’ve lived and loved and lost. Because you’ve crashed and burned, failed and made mistakes. Because you’ve suffered… and you are still living to tell the tale, regardless of whether or not you’ve “made it through” yet. You have wisdom and insight and gifts to give.

You have the power to make a difference simply by showing up and telling the truth, by giving a voice to that which burns fiercely inside your heart, and by giving your whole being to the things that matter most… to you.

Not what matters most to me.
Not what matters most to your family or friends.
And certainly not what matters most to your social media circles.

Does this mean we ignore everything else?
No, absolutely not.

We give blood when we can.
We donate money or resources when we’re able.
We love and support and care for the wounded and beaten down.
We speak up when the opportunity to take a stand presents itself.
We vote. We volunteer. We protest. We sign the petitions.
We help in whatever way we can, whenever someone is in need.

But what we don’t do is water down our gifts and voice and unique contribution by trying to dedicate ourselves to absolutely every single tragedy, injustice, political issue, or environmental tragedy that’s happening.

So, if you’re feeling down about the world… ask yourself what hurts the most right now, and give everything you can to making a difference in that area. Don’t just sit around and share news stories with sad emojis online. Don’t rant from behind a screen about how “someone” needs to change something.

Get out there and do your work.
The world is waiting.

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