What scares you?

By Priscilla H. Douglas 

A:  I am overwhelmed by the endless stream of disasters—hurricanes, fires, shootings, bombings and hateful and disturbing rhetoric.   I worry what will happen next.  It is really scary. Any advice?

Q:  Yes, it seems that we have one distressful or disgraceful event every day—some of them natural and others man-made. And given that it is Halloween, we can’t escape to the movies—for once, what we see on the screen is even worse! Here in “real life,” watching the after effects of disasters rocks and shocks our emotions.  And, if you have an empathetic nature, you may be more emotionally vulnerable:  Their pain can become your pain. Your boundaries collapse into one constant stream of events and the emotions can spike and drop.  It’s almost impossible to disengage.

You probably have the same experience that I do: My cell buzzes and beeps with newsfeeds and tweets and, even though I say “Don’t look,” I do look and I find myself in the middle of a really scary scenario.  Yes, it is that bad.  Why? Social media amplifies our experiences and taps into our emotions.  I think the situation is made even worse for millennials and younger people who are so emotionally intelligent, caring and connected to the world.

The way to disengage and disconnect is easy:  Simply wake up, a lesson we can learn from the dream demon Freddy Krueger in Nightmare on Elm Street.  To stay awake, consider the following:     

  • Are you willing to silence your devices at a designated time of day? Night? [I especially recommend that you don’t answer emails, Tweet, check FB, or post to Instagram etc. after 9:0O PM.]
  • Are you able to be in the present moment? Mindful? Note:  Enjoy being with friends and family without using a device.
  • Do you have a favorite charity? Volunteer activity?  If yes, make a connection and give back.
  • Do you have meaningful conversations –with no complaining, whining, or gossiping?

Here a few actions you can take to stop the overwhelm:

  • Don’t interrupt a conversation to Google or Tweet
  • Delete some of the news feeds
  • Make a pact with friends to not talk politics and establish a “fine” to help you stick to your word

Finally, the best way to avoid scary situations and feeling overwhelmed is to stay awake
and what ever you do:  DON’T GO DOWN INTO THE CELLAR

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