Is this YOU?
You are a person full of energy and curiosity and you are delighted with learning new things, right? For years and years, you got an extra kick when you discovered something new – and lately, you feel often a little tired and some tension in your forehead, right? You get up in the morning, the emails, the news channels you usually visit, some extra info from Facebook or G+, all seems to be so interesting and you click and click, you read as much as you can – and probably you forget to plus/like the articles, to write a comment or to share it in your feed. Just too much, you think.
We need to enter into a conversation!
And you are right, just too much! And still, just reading something without expressing our gratitude for the author’s work, or without telling them your own opinion on it is like lurking behind the curtains. Without intending, we co-create the consumerism and onesidedness of the internet. A net is intended to flow in all directions, not just from source to consumer. Just reading and not engaging deprives us of entering into a conversation – and it deprives the author of a genuine feedback which would be very precious for developing their ideas and insights.
There is a new illness – or maybe it is an addiction, at least in the beginning before serious physical symptoms arise. We want to “dance at every wedding”, as we use to say in Germany. We don’t want to miss something which could be important. You never know, do you? And then you – and me – continue to check out this, read that, install this, go to that platform, begin a new project, engage (shortly) in a new group etc.
Well, if you have read this far, I am sure you know all that. Now the question arises: what to do about it? Shall we wait until the improperly stacked load falls and shatters everything? Well, we are not WAITING, we convince ourselves that, after all, it is not too bad and we can go on as we had, our body and mind will stay with us as our faithful servant as long as we want. Really?
Burnout even without a day job
When you live in the countryside and you have no 9-5 job, how can you think of burn out? Work on the land makes you tired, yes, but your head remains clear and your mind calm – unless you have major emotional problems, but this is not our topic today. Sitting in front of the screen and reading other people’s most interesting stuff doesn’t feel like work. It satisfies our curiosity. Contrary to working outdoors, we confine our energy on our eyes and on our intellectual mind. The body begins to ache – we don’t care. Movement in front of the keyboard. Fingers yes, the rest remains still or in awkward constricted positions. Shoulders ache, eyes ache. The body protests and gives us all sorts of signs – which we normally misread as a request for coffee, cigarettes or food. Where will this end? In eye problems, obesity, lung cancer, and overall burnout – right where other people travel to for relaxation!
The predicament of change
Most of us are very invested in change. We fear that Nature collapses if we don’t work against the fatal tendencies. We fear that our nations may fall back into separation and confrontation – and we feel like needing to become activists for connection and peace. We are deeply touched by injustice against humans and/or animals and we feel called to do something there, too. We want to help, help, help to create a better future – and we see how things are getting worse and worse, at least from our present perspective. We become ever more worried about all sorts of things, our emotions get triggered more and more, we feel we definitely have to step up and do something useful. But WHAT?
Navigating the crisis – a personal challenge for everybody
Humans have different styles of responding to crises and uncertainty. Some people enter into panic, they become resentful and even violent towards whatever they see as an enemy. Others try to be resilient and keep their emotions under control. Hopefully, they succeed, it certainly depends on the amount of challenge they are facing. At a certain point comes the burnout, an illness, a detrimental quarrel with the spouse, a serious depression etc. The energy which we are accumulating, willingly or not, doesn’t just disappear.
So why don’t we stop in time? Why can’t we follow our own advice, our better knowing, our rational insights about what is going on with us? I believe that we are still in the modern mindset which elevates the mind over body and psyche. I have learned as a child to control myself with will power, and the western world is grounded on the “free will” of humans. So it’s no wonder that we underestimate the power of our psyche and the intelligence of our bodies. We have continuously practiced ignoring both when they speak to us and we agree with our thoughts and follow their biased advice. We have lost the connection to ourselves and to get it back we have to make a deliberate effort to BEGIN to take ourselves seriously and to abandon our fears about missing out on something important. We certainly will – we already do, all the time – but we need to come to terms with our limited being . We are not omnipotent even if we have the tendency to believe it.
The way out
As always it boils down to us humans and how we see and treat ourselves. We need to sort ourselves out. Even if we have done a lot of psychological and spiritual work on ourselves, we need to continue, to go deeper. We have learned previously – at least we hope so – how to conduct ourselves in the life we used to live. Things have changed rapidly in the outside world. We haven’t been able to change with the same speed. We have fallen into the traps of speed, success and wanting to be in control. We have pretended to be able to create change in the world. Well, yes, we have created change – but as it seems now it was not the change we had envisioned.
So what to do?
We can give up, float with the stream until we crash against a dike or drown in the deeper waters. We can ignore the dangers, we can become resentful, we can blow up everything in which we believed and pull everyone and everything with us down into psychological or physical annihilation – very common for humans to do! (Think about HIV positive people in the 80ies who deliberately infected others to express their existential rage against God or destiny).
Or we can become humble and begin from scratch with our work to transform ourselves. We imagined that, finally, we had reached a good level of development and were proud of it. We need to understand that we have just a short rest before we are sent out into the storm again, the hurricane of inner turbulences, contradictions, desires, needs, fears and visions. We need to hold our own hands and go ahead, step by step, and give ourselves the necessary understanding and compassion. And along with it we need to refresh the encouragement and push to clean up what is still lurking in the corner, which is hindering us from doing what we are meant to do. We need to overcome the obstacles inside ourselves and become fuller human beings. We need to understand that the change in the outside world depends on us – literally
We can no longer pretend that the others need to change, politicians, economy etc. to change the current downward spiral of our planet earth. Well, they do need to change, too. But first of all, WE NEED TO CHANGE OURSELVES and then go out and be a role model for the others who find themselves unable to change without a plan and without guidance.
My advice to you and to myself:
STOP COMPLAINING – FIND THE SOURCE OF THE PROBLEM IN YOURSELF AND CHANGE IT ACCORDING TO YOUR VISION OF A BETTER WORLD.
Stop with the overload, take only what you really need! Become the better world inside you and the outer world will follow! (And not the other way round!)
Also published on Medium.