EMPOWERED ACTION IN THE FACE OF TRAUMA

Recent world events have stirred up many emotions. Louise Androlia shares her wisdom on how to use our feelings as a catalyst for empowered action…. Images: Katya Volpato

Recent world events have left many of us feeling traumatized, whether or not we’ve been directly affected by acts of mass violence. These are turbulent times, and having been working on my own path to trauma recovery recently, I feel called to share some thoughts on how to work on being present in reality—but at the same time not becoming immobilized by fear.

At the root of it all, whether facing our own crisis or confronted with mass crisis, the difficult art to master is that it is safe to feel our feelings and continue to connect, especially when we feel as though it would be wiser to shut down.

The strong emotions being stirred up among switched on communities now are actually a valuable call to action. Here are some ways we can use them—while avoiding losing our connection to our highest selves, or getting swept up in the hype.

THE EMOTION: Overwhelmed
THE GUIDANCE: You can’t save the whole world at once
THE EMPOWERED ACTION: Focus your attention

Pick something you currently feel very passionate or perhaps frightened about, and then learn and feel your way through it. Endless browsing through social media feeds may make you feel more frustrated because you also end up reading the comments, which can lead to yet more overwhelm. Instead, choose to focus on your chosen subject and learn all you can. Yes this will be hard if you are used to endless scrolling—because as well as learning, you are re-training your mind to be present.

THE EMOTION: Fear
THE GUIDANCE: Catastrophizing only fuels the fears
THE EMPOWERED ACTION: Get involved in local politics and community

Looking on Facebook lately, all I’ve seen is people screaming into the Internet abyss about the apocalypse and giving fuel to their own fear and sadness in the process. This helps no one, including you. So look at how you can actually get involved within your community, and if you don’t see anything obvious, start something. It is so easy to just say ‘Fuck the world’. But this is not the time to give up. It’s time to shout louder, IRL, and to remember your voice and your vote DOES count.

THE EMOTION: Anger
THE GUIDANCE: Do not fight fire with fire
THE EMPOWERED ACTION: Feel your anger; then channel it into positive action

The elements can always teach us something—for example, anger is a fire element emotion, while compassion and feelings are water element emotions. And you don’t put out a forest fire by setting another part of the forest on fire! Action, and so activism, is a positive channel for anger, and if what’s needed now is more of the water element, become an activist for love, compassion, equality, empathy, and connection.

THE EMOTION: Grief
THE GUIDANCE: It is safe to feel your feelings
THE EMPOWERED ACTION: Explore and nurture your shadow side

Man of us are experiencing a huge collective sense of grief, coming in all forms, and for anybody not used to this emotion, this level of pain can seem very frightening to the mind, body and spirit. This is not a time to numb the pain, but instead an opportunity to dive deeper in your own self-inquiry practice. Checking out of reality serves no one, including you. Allow yourself to acknowledge and feel all the fears that have arisen recently and know that it is okay to do so. It can sometimes feel like our own personal crises are not ‘bad’ enough to warrant being the focus of our compassion—but ignoring your own pain will leave you unable to serve. By learning to compassionately address what is currently coming up for you, then you are actually helping to heal the collective and creating connection between yourself, your peers and those strangers you are really feeling for.

THE EMOTION: Helplessness
THE GUIDANCE: Re-connect to yourself
THE EMPOWERED ACTION: Take a media break

First of all, avoid watching or reading the mainstream news on a loop. Studies show that when we keep recycling the news over and over we are re-traumatizing constantly. And the more scared we feel, the more helpless we can feel. To be able to start being of service it is essential that we learn to reconnect to our selves, as once back in the present moment we feel more stable to help others. I’ve also lost count of how many people I hear saying they wish they could use social media less, as this can have a similar way of hooking us into judgment and fear, and distancing us from our own truths. The great news is…you can!

Some easy ways to start:

  • Leave your phone at home and go for a walk in your neighborhood.
  • Put your phone on airplane mode at night.
  • Create a ‘no social media after ***pm’ rule.
  • Log out of all your social media channels on your computer and phone. This means that when you go to use them you become aware that you have to login. This allows using them to become intentional.
  • Move your social icons on your phone to a folder and put it on the last page of scrolling. Again this means you CHOOSE when to look rather than it just being there.
  • Do not read the comments. I repeat DO NOT READ THE COMMENTS.

These small actions may feel massively uncomfortable, and if so, good. If you feel anxious without your phone, good. The present moment will continue to feel painful until you learn to be IN it. And look how much time you now have! What would you like to do with it? I suggest reconnecting to PLAY. Connecting with your inner child is another way to ease anxiety and help you reconnect to your natural energy of love and connection. When you refresh your true north, you are more likely to be able to shift your helplessness into self-love.

THE EMOTION: Frustration
THE GUIDANCE: Express yourself in the way that works for you
THE EMPOWERED ACTION: Show don’t tell

It can be really hard to express yourself in a way that you feel helps, especially when you’re angry and upset. It’s good to remember that we rarely get our point across when we try and force it upon someone and so preaching doesn’t usually feel good. You will always feel better when you can express yourself articulately and if you find it difficult to feel confidence with expressing yourself with words, remember also that you can always just BE the change. We always positively affect those around us with our behavior. So think: what small steps can you take in your day-to-day life that will provide example of the kind of world you’d like to live in?

*** 

A Final Word on Black Lives Matter. Vs All Lives Matter.

This is an argument that’s been raging, and below are a few of my favorite simple ways to explain the situation to someone who is having trouble understanding. It is part of human nature to make everything about ourselves (regardless of the topic) since in times of trauma our survival instinct kicks in. But it’s important to learn to recognize that not EVERYTHING is about us. The more that we can see ourselves connected to everyone else, the more empathy we can ignite.

  • “When we say ‘Save the Rainforests’, it doesn’t mean that all other forests suck.”
  • “Choosing to go to a rally for Breast Cancer does not mean that Liver Cancer is less important.”
  • “Saving an animal that’s about to go extinct does not mean that other animals aren’t important, it just means that right now, this one needs our help.”
  • “Yes, of course all lives are important, but currently it doesn’t feel like black lives are as important as other lives—and until the world is equal, meaning ALL people receive the same level of kindness and judicial treatment, then we need to speak up.”
  • “Choosing to support black lives does not mean your life is any less significant.”

You get the idea.

ON CLOUD NINE: 2016 NUMEROLOGY

2016 numerology means we’ve entered a 9 Universal Year – where conclusions, letting go, surrender, loss, and transformation are key themes, says Felicia Bender.

 

One of the reasons we simply can’t resist making New Year’s Resolutions is because we’re feeling a very real, very profound shift in energy from one year to the next. By the Numbers, it’s undeniable.

The number for each Universal Year is like the landscape or terrain we’re driving through all year, the state or country we’re driving through on our annual “road trip.” And everyone on the planet will be feeling the energy related to this particular number during the entire year.

You calculate the Universal Year by simply adding the numbers in the current year (in this case, 2016) together like this:

2016 = 2 + 0 + 1 + 6 = 9

So the 2016 numerology makes this a number 9 Universal Year.

All of us begin feeling this energy starting January 1, 2016 and it’ll end on December 31, 2016.

So what about this 9 Universal Year?

Close your eyes and think back to 2008 (global financial crisis, anyone?). What were we collectively doing then? The reason I ask is because together we’ll be closing out the cycle that started in 2008—meaning, we’ll be evaluating and wrapping up what we started during that particular year because it was a 1 Universal Year. The 1 Universal Year is the start of a cycle—all about new beginnings. 2016 is a 9 Universal Year, which is the end of a cycle—all about completions.

Everyone on the planet will experience a year where conclusions, letting go, surrender, loss, and transformation are key themes. We can feel this, can’t we? From world politics to the microcosmic detail of our personal lives, it’s simply not business as usual right now.

2015 was the beginning of an intensly transformational Universal Year cycle. I call it a three-year “push” time (the Universal Year Cycle 8-9-1) where all of us will be met with challenges forcing transformation—pushing our lives into the next level of development and evolution, personally and for the planet as a whole. I keep seeing end-of-year postings on social media about how people are wishing “good riddance to bad rubbish” to the year 2015. This year was a challenging and intense year all around.

2015 tested all of us in the realms of personal power—it insisted that we stand up, step into our empowerment, and get it together with the material aspects of our lives. It was a year for financial gain (or loss) and was quite demanding on our time and energy. Everything was amplified in 2015. We were all being tested (again and again and again) in order to clarify who we are and what we want in our lives. Then it was the time to follow that up with action – whether that meant leaving things that weren’t working for us, or expanding our scope, taking some calculated risks, and moving into the “real us” with decisive action.

2016 is not the time to push, push, push. It’s the time to go back to the future (so to speak) and take inventory of the past—make amends, forgive, say your good-byes, and let go.

This is the year for surrender. It’s truly the time to place the oars with which we’ve been furiously paddling our life’s boat and give them a rest—to settle back and go with the current. It’ll take us where we need to land—despite the discomfort (if not downright terror) of not knowing the final destination. After all, there might be some rapids, waterfalls, shallow points, and maybe even some leeches and alligators along the way!

Handing over control and trusting a Higher Power instead of clinging to our Individual Will is the ultimate challenge of the 9 Universal Year—while at the same time moving forward with right action. Surrendering doesn’t mean sitting around and waiting for stuff to happen. If we’re ready, willing, and able to let go and move into a new, more highly evolved state of being, then 2016 is the year where dreams can manifest instantly. When there is no resistance, the full force of transformation has nothing to collide against.

When this happens, the beauty is in the breakdown. The butterfly is released from the chrysalis and can express itself fully and completely. Just imagine the transformation that could occur if, collectively, we could let go of what is no longer serving us and create a new paradigm. That’s what 2016 offers—the supporting energy to get rid of the old and make room for the new. This will happen across the board – in the world political spectrum and in our daily personal lives.

On the other end of the spectrum, the destructive tendencies of the 9 energy have to do with stubbornly and myopically hanging on for dear life to everything from the past (the comfort zone residing in suspended animation) — like a mausoleum of our own making. The whole idea that everything was better “back in the day” can be the ultimate caveat to progressing forward.

Clinging to a nostalgic past is one aspect of 9 energy that keeps us wallowing in quicksand. And then we wonder why nothing’s moving forward and life is clunking along as if we’re still driving a Model T in the age of hovercraft.

The magic of the 9 Universal Year won’t be fully evident until the dust has settled and we collectively create new systems to replace the old, outdated, or demolished ones.

2016 will demand our unabashed trust that what’s going is meant to go, even when there’s nothing solidly tangible to replace it with yet. The experiences gleaned in 2016 are a catalyst for global change and transformation with a humanitarian focus. The vibration of the 9 is highly creative and I daresay the Arts will be instrumental in this global change and transformation we’re working toward.

The number 9 is an innately “spiritual” vibration and, when we experience it, the challenge is in embodying and acting upon the constructive elements of all the numbers. That’s a big order to fill!

So 2016 is prodding all of us to take the lead in our lives (1) using love and diplomacy (2). We will be offered opportunities to communicate with a sense of joyful self-expression (3) while using our good sense, setting up a plan, and following through with hard work (4). “Freedom” can sought with focused discipline (5) and we’ll need to pay special attention to our domestic relationships and take on some added responsibility (6). It’s also about delving into our spirituality (7) while taking charge of our material existence (8).  And then wrapping it all up in a humanitarian bow! (9)