When Angst Threatens To Take Over

It feels fuzzy. Not in the warm, cuddly kind of way, but the disconnected, can’t think clearly, heart-numbing sort of feeling.

I’ve gone to battle with my own mind many times over the years of my life, a microview of the death and destruction of human nature up against the bird’s eye view of an evolution towards greater humanity. It’s a frustrating divide within myself that feels like it’s deep in my DNA, this angst alongside a sense of calm, or simply, the negative vs. positive.

My pragmatic mind demands I see clear reality, my soul reminds me that reality is what you decide to focus on.

This week, I’ve felt the collective pain of what happened in Orlando. I’ve felt my own struggle with self, what I’m doing, what my purpose is, when it’ll all just get a little bit easier. I certainly see the parallel between my own struggle with self, and the larger struggle we face as a nation and a people as we grasp at dealing with our shadow (some reports have brought up the possibility that the Orlando shooter was himself gay, and therefore his actions are the ultimate horrific expression of a repressed shadow). There is so much division based on fear, bubbling up as anger (and everyone thinks their anger is righteous, but whenever death comes into play, I hope some of us can see this manifestation of anger is never righteous), and more finger-pointing and projection is going on than anything else. Per usual.

Until the next mass shooting. Which will happen again, sooner rather than later, as nothing changes. (so says my cynical side)

But then, I remember that even just five years ago, the majority of the United States was against gay marriage. Who would have thought then that a traditional Indian father would throw his gay son a huge wedding? The possibility of a rape victim’s account being read on TV AND in Congress would have been slim to none. Who imagined that a ban on female genital mutilation would happen in Nigeria or The Gambia?

It’s easy to look at everything that feels so horribly, horribly wrong, but in some moments, we have to step back and see how far we’ve come in a short period of time. Sure, we have Donald Trump as a viable candidate, which is beyond most people’s comprehension of what is right and good, but even during the last cycle of the presidential campaign, would there have been a real discussion of raising the minimum wage to $15? The number of people “unaffiliated” with a specific religion continues to rise, and yet many of them consider themselves spiritual in some way. More than ever before, kids can choose not to go to college, or to go to technical schools, and achieve more amazing things in their lives than if they had gone into massive debt at a respected four-year college. Even though we seem to face a mass shooting every couple of months, crime has fallen dramatically in this country over the past 30 years, and we are starting to understand that locking people up – particularly for drugsdoes NOT make us safer.

I hear more of people’s stories about oppression, painful ostracizing, sadness, and fear from childhood (and adulthood) than ever before, but part of this is a welcoming of people speaking their truth and experiences like never before. This is how we get to learn from each other, and be a part of some collective healing.

Heather Wallace wrote in her blog, Orlando – A Spiritual Perspective:

A new consciousness is emerging and that doesn’t mean overnight utopia. It means that the balance is shifting. We are shifting from fragmented to unified. From fear to love. From intolerance to compassion. This is the trajectory we are on and yes, at times it will be painful. This pain, however, is birthing new (and more loving!) paradigms in the collective consciousness. Paradigms don’t shift easily. It’s messy. It’s polarized. Those who operate primarily from fear will dig in their heels.

When that angst threatens to take over, finding a touchstone to remind myself of the bigger picture is the only thing that moves that darkness. For me, dance is a magical tool that somehow shifts my truth, whether that be through moving energy, connection with others, or something I can’t put my finger on (or all three). Working with my own shadow and healing also allows for a return to a lighter space that is more grounded in my purpose. If you consider yourself an empath or a highly sensitive person, this MindBodyGreen article also offers some tips on how to ground yourself when you are struggling.

Somewhere in there, there’s always an opportunity to heal.

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