“Chaos is what we’ve lost touch with. This is why it is given a bad name. It is feared by the dominant archetype of our world, which is Ego, which clenches because its existence is defined in terms of control.” ~ Terence McKenna
“Never in my life has the world felt more chaotic and infused with danger,” a client recently cried to me during one of our sessions.
My heart clenched as I witnessed her pain. Yet I knew I couldn’t disagree with her. What she was saying was true. From the COVID-19 pandemic to the war in Ukraine to economic turmoil to the breaking down of many of our social systems, we are truly living in a time of immense pain and unpredictability.
Many of my friends and colleagues have shared similar sentiments with me. From physical symptoms like insomnia, gastrointestinal distress, heart palpitations, dizziness, and headaches, to emotional symptoms like loneliness, despair, and terror, there is no denying that our world is undergoing massive upheaval that is impacting each of us on a primal, cellular level.
So how can we cope with the shifting sands of these tumultuous days? How can we be at peace when the world feels so unfamiliar and the future feels so unknowable?
Here are my five top tips for how you can stay grounded, even when the world is upside down:
1. Give thanks for the beauty and the terror
“I don’t know who I am anymore,” a self-admitted “Type A” friend confided in me recently. “I used to have a very clear vision of what my future held. For myself, for my kids, for my career, for my love life. Now I look at the future and I can’t predict anything. I want peace, but how can you find peace when the world is burning?”
Human beings need to feel grounded in order to grow. Like plants, we need roots if we want to be able to reach toward the sun. Yet, what we often miss as humans above the soil is that underneath the ground, destruction is often the catalyst behind evolution and survival. Without decomposition and decay, trees couldn’t flourish and new life couldn’t be established.
We need the breakdown of matter if we want the growth that created the soaring redwoods and the abundant ocean forests. Chaos isn’t the enemy, any more than our compost bins are the enemy of the environment. We need these times of spiritual decomposing and ego decay.
As German writer, Rainer Maria Rilke famously wrote, “Let everything happen to you. Beauty and terror. No feeling is final.”
If you’re struggling to find any comfort or peace during these times of great conflict, I would urge you to create a small space in your mind for the possibility that these times may someday serve you. Serve us. Serve the world.
Think back to the times when our country was most at odds and our futures were the most unpredictable. From the Revolutionary War to the Civil War to the battles for civil rights in the 1950s and 1960s, there has never been a time when liberation, justice, and social growth came without a cost.
We cannot know what’s coming tomorrow. But we can look back at our history and our ancestors’ battles and remember that chaos never lasts forever. And when the dust settles, we have the chance to build the world anew, to build a new masterpiece out of the rubble left behind.
2. You are what you eat…digitally
When it comes to food, we all know that eating junk food generally ends up with us feeling like junk. When we have too many cocktails on Saturday night, we know we might wake up on Sunday morning feeling fuzzy and green around the gills. Yet many people don’t put the same reasoning behind what they choose to consume on the internet. If you are constantly ingesting divisive, hostile news articles (or worse, reading the mean comments under the articles), you’re going to get locked in that combative, ego-driven mindset.
The media is set up to feed us exactly what we want to hear. To confirm all the beliefs we already have. Our social media follows our activity online and funnels websites and accounts to us that will continue to ingrain and deepen our political beliefs…and our political divide.
Here’s a good way to discover where your interests are focused online: Go to the “explore” page on your social media pages. See what pages and accounts the algorithm immediately starts to feed you. Are they clickbaity headlines about gas prices or Kanye West or gory news stories with terrifying images?
With the average person spending close to seven hours a day online, it would behoove us to be extremely mindful and intentional about the websites we visit and the accounts we follow on social media.
This doesn’t mean you can’t stay up-to-date on the news and be conscious of the injustices that happen every day in this world. But try and key into when you go from being informed to becoming triggered and almost impotent with rage and sadness. Maybe even set a timer on your phone: you will read the news for 15 minutes, then spend five to 10 minutes looking at kitten videos or inspiring tweets from accounts that uplift you. I don’t want you to be ignorant of the world’s pain, but be conscious of the fact that your power and your energy will quickly be sapped if you constantly stay in a low vibration state of fear and anger.
3. No problem can be solved from the consciousness with which it was created
I know my last point may have angered some of you. Maybe you even leaped to some assumptions about me, such as “It’s easy for a white woman with privilege to ignore the news,” or “It must be nice to not care about anything happening in the world.”
You would be wrong, but that’s okay. I don’t hold it against you. Social media has trained us to make these snap judgments and to “bandwagon” against so-called villains online. But here’s something you might not know about me: I lost a son recently when a Snapchat drug dealer sold him drugs that were laced with fentanyl, unbeknownst to Sammy. Now I spend countless hours of my free time meeting with legislators, talking to bereaved parents, and protesting for stricter social media protections.
I couldn’t do this if I spent time reading comment after comment online, or searching for all the many, many heartbreaking news stories that reflect how deep this fentanyl epidemic goes. I couldn’t do that if I raged against the drug dealer who killed my son with his poison.
I have to source my energy from a different consciousness. From a place of love, faith, and the unfailing belief that my soul chose this work for a reason and that I was put here to help save other kids’ lives, just as my son chose his path as well.
If you want to make a great change in this world, whether it’s in your neighborhood, in D.C., in Ukraine, remember that you can’t take down the master’s house with his own tools. We can’t be fueled by rage and hatred or by ego-centric beliefs that we become infallible, and anyone who disagrees with us is reviled.
That doesn’t mean that we have to simply accept beliefs that we find fundamentally wrong, but instead of reaching right to the “I’m right, you’re wrong” playbook, we can choose to stay off the drama triangle.
4. Stay off the drama triangle
In psychotherapy, the drama triangle is a term we use to describe the typical push-and-pull personas we encounter and personify in our relationships. The personas are Victim, Villain, and Hero. In the victim role, you feel as though you are marginalized and attacked by everyone around you (villains), and you play out this martyr role waiting for someone (a hero) to rescue you. In the hero role, you’re always looking out for villains, seeing the boogeyman in every corner, because you have a deep desire to rescue people in order to feel needed and affirmed yourself. In the villain archetype, you might seek out conflict or intentionally start arguments so you can release some of your anger or feelings of injustice.
The drama triangle is happening around us and in us all the time, especially online. That’s why the online comment sections quickly devolve into dumpster fires. Someone gets their feelings hurt, someone else rushes to rescue them, then someone else takes offense, and so on and so forth.
If you take yourself out of the “ego” zone, you immediately stop being a player in the drama triangle. You’re able to realize that everyone’s point of view is valid in their eyes, and that it’s not your job to rescue anyone or to antagonize people to agree with your beliefs. When you’re off the triangle, it’s so much easier to consume media without getting worked up about it or feeling the need to “correct” your aunt about her political Facebook post, or to snap at your coworker because you hate their Trump bumper sticker.
None of this means that you can’t have strong political opinions or that you can’t passionately work toward creating the world you desire. I deeply want you to do that. I believe we are all here for that purpose: to heal the world and vibrate at high frequencies of love and peace on a universal level. But we can’t do that if we are triggered by every bumper sticker and Facebook comment. As Rumi would say, “If you are irritated by every rub, how can your mirror be polished?”
5. Get outside
The best way to stay grounded and secure in your own power and energetic potential is by allowing time for quiet. All of my advice above won’t land if you never have the time or emotional space to allow yourself to absorb the lessons the universe is trying to teach you. It’s not enough to just turn off the noise of social media. We also need to connect with nature around us, to feel the earth underneath our feet, to smell fresh soil, to let the wind be the only sound in our ears instead of our Airpods.
Whether you want to meditate, do yoga, journal, bike, or hike, we all need time outside every day, or at least several times a week. If you have mobility issues, simply sitting outside or letting your feet rest in the Earth can be deeply grounding. Lean against a tree, or even better, hug it (I hug so many trees, and I have never met one that didn’t hug my soul right back).
Tell me: how do you turn off the noise and stay grounded in this turbulent world? Let me know on my social media or in the comments below!