Heartsick about hurricanes and violence? Me too.

I’m heartsick about politics and hurricanes and gun violence. It's all so much, it feels like a new tragedy every day. If it's not an actual tragedy each day, then it's the politicians tweeting and shaming and blaming and pointing fingers and nothing getting done. This inaction is having life and death consequences for many.

[Such poor leadership ability by the Mayor of San Juan, and others in Puerto Rico, who are not able to get their workers to help. They want everything to be done for them when it should be a community effort. Tweets from President Trump.]

Blame for suffering.

Well, this is nothing new.

“Women shouldn’t wear short skirts, kiss too much, wear too much makeup, stay out too late, flirt with the wrong people, change their minds, lead someone on, play hard to get, etc”
“Black people should just be respectful, grateful. If they aren’t guilty, then don’t act guilty. Don’t run away. Don’t talk back. Don't be angry. Don't be loud.”
“Inner cities are shooting each other up. We need our guns to protect US from THEM.”
“If you want to live in paradise (Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico), there is a price to pay.”

It all makes me feel helpless. And my (not proud) fallback when I feel helpless is to stick my head in the sand. To grieve privately. Overwhelmed. Drained. Rage contained and turned inward. Rely on the privilege to choose to look away.

And that is my cue to look internally for what I can do to help myself. Taking care of myself renews my energy to turn back outward to do what I can externally too.

All of these external circumstances might stir up our deepest fears, for survival, for well being, for connection and belonging. Witnessing these grand disasters, it reminds us that our world is not as safe and secure as some of us are able to pretend. Tragedy can strike, and even worse, we can be blamed for it.

These fears that show up in the meta picture can show up intimately in our performing and creative lives. Because those parts of us that are afraid carry our deepest concerns about safety and belonging, they show up in our very personal work. They show up in the audition room, or dealing with rejection, or writing about personal experiences, or choosing to go for a non-traditional and uncertain career.

The situation in our country amplifies those personal concerns, putting those fears on high alert.

Which sometimes makes art and performance more scary right now, because those fears are on extra lookout for danger.

Which means it’s also an opportunity to deal with those big fears in a meaningful way. They’re coming to the surface, which means more access and availability for healing.

Here are some steps to take to be with your fears and bring some healing inward. If you like, you can journal about the following prompts:

First step – Notice those fears as a part of you. The fears are not all of you. How does it feel to say or feel that the fears are not all of you?

Second – Notice when those fears get activated. Are you walking around every day with a knot in your stomach, or scrunched shoulders, or a spinning brain? How do your fears show up? Are there particular triggers?
Third – Is there a way to direct some curiosity towards those fears? Open curiosity is great, because we want to hear from the fears and all the concerns that they carry. We don’t want to change them or push them or pull them. Just hear them. When fully heard, they change on their own.

Fourth – Be kind to yourself. Self-compassion works wonders. Compassion doesn’t ask for anything to be different. Simply noticing, this is hard, this is a big burden. Extending warm heart energy towards those feelings. You can even place your hands on your heart and say something comforting to yourself, like you might comfort a child. "Yes, this is really hard. You are not wrong. I see how much you are hurting."

Concerned that turning inward to heal your own fears might be selfish? I view it the other way, this healing gives us renewed confidence and energy to continue to do our part in the world. Healing ourselves sends ripples in ways we cannot predict, but those ripples are a good and worthy goal.

With love and compassion,