How To Live in a Burning World Without Losing Your Mind. In this article, Liza Featherstone suggests we apply what we know about healing trauma to our response to climate catastrophe. I agree.
We know that when people feel threatened, we go into fight/flight/freeze. The stress levels in the world right now are driving more people into overwhelm and avoidance. Between the global pandemic, social injustice, our personal lives and climate change, we have reached our limit and can’t take in any more bad news. We want to do the right thing, but our brain isn’t functioning well. We’re in freeze.
We may find ourselves rationalizing our inaction. The climate crisis activates all our fear buttons along with feeling hopeless and powerless. It’s too much. The system is too entrenched. Composting or riding my bicycle to work is not going to save the world.
Researcher Dr Renee Lertzman found that most people want to save the planet, but they also want cheap flights and air conditioning. Mired in guilt we are unable to take action. Being shamed and pounded with catastrophic images drives us deeper into freeze.
We need ways to engage with each other. Alone, we protect ourselves against letting in the terror and sorrow of global warming. We can’t afford to feel this on our own. Facing reality is easier when we talk about it and take action with other people. This Sunday in our community class, we will feel, inquire and share with each other. This helps.
Think Global. Act Local.
The combination of feeling and allowing, like we do together in class, is one way to process the anxiety, grief and powerlessness we feel. We might also be feeling defiant and hard-hearted. We could feel angry at other people who are contributing more to greenhouse gases than we are. We might also give ourselves a hard time for not doing more. Shaming ourselves and suppressing how we feel contributes to the problem.
This is hard. Our lives are often difficult. Telling the truth and sharing how we feel helps move us out of freeze and overwhelm. Whether you join us Sunday or initiate a conversation in your family or community, let’s start talking about this.
Pro-tip: Limit your exposure to images, especially videos. Our mind can’t tell the difference between images we see or vividly imagine, and what is a present moment threat. Climate change is a real threat. It is also true that we can’t contribute towards solutions when we’re in freeze. Minimizing our exposure to alarming images helps us regulate our nervous system and let our higher level brain engage.
Resource article: How To Live in a Burning World Without Losing Your Mind.