Humans have a higher level cognitive mind and an immense capacity and need for empathy and connection. We also have the primitive brain survival system that developed during hunter/gatherer days when we lived in small groups and competed with other groups for scarce resources.

We want to feel included and that we are in this together. We feel a caring for people we love and some level of good will toward strangers. Ideally, we feel part of the human family. We connect with each other.

We take on the responsibility of managing our own nervous system and fight response so we act in a way that is in alignment with our higher values. We don’t want to add to the chaos and fear. Even if we didn’t grow up in a trusting environment, we learn tools as adults so we can more reliably self-regulate. We do this for ourselves and we do this for the larger community.

“The greatest gift you can give the world is a peaceful mind.” Swami Veda Bharati

We also see and feel that some people don’t care about us or others as long as they get their own way or make money. We resent that people on “the other side” have a say in our lives. Some politicians play on this and will block bills that are clearly in the best interests of the people who voted them in. We pay a high price for betraying ourselves with this type of inclusion. We feel more and more estranged from the wider community and it becomes more urgent to follow along and stay in the group.

People who marginalize and dehumanize others to have power over us are a threat to our safety and life. We are not “part of their group”. They feel no responsibility for our protection and may be actively dangerous.

It is easy to become demoralized and feel helpless. We are already feeling the stress, grief and loss of Covid. Our plans and lives were abruptly changed. We’re isolated socially and physically. People we normally count on for comfort may be tapped out and unavailable. We are all getting a crash course in surviving without the support we need. We are being asked to step up in a big way.

Some steps we can take to strengthen our grit, resilience and strength:

Find and focus on the good. People still help their neighbors get groceries, shovel their snow, or during floods and other natural disasters. Move away from polarizing news and social media that alarms you. Notice connections you have in your community, either local or online. Smile at someone at a store. Try to be pleasant and safe to be around.

Cultivate an open heart and empathy at the same time as you have firm boundaries. It takes a lot of energy to be there for someone who is really anxious or in a fight response. We have to work within our capacity at any given time. We can limit access to ourselves. We can seek out and spend more time with others who we enjoy being with. We can leave the room or the relationship when someone is persistently nasty or out of control. As much as we may love them or feel responsible for them, we are not ultimately responsible for other adults. Our needs also count! We are also struggling.

Feel what is here to feel. Grief. Loss. Fear. Joy. Inclusion. Give yourself time to reflect, absorb and assimilate the joys and the hard things. Carve out the time to feel through reducing coping mechanisms like online games, working too much, shopping, and other compulsions or addictions.

Grieve what is lost and accept the reality of what is here now. Work on letting go of resistance to “what is”.

Learn about trauma and your nervous system so you understand that your responses are normal. There is nothing wrong with you. We all have the power and capacity to heal.

Support your nervous system regulation. This includes co-regulating with other people or with animals. Being outdoors in nature. Music, art, and sports. Healthy eating and good sleep hygiene. Volunteer with like minded people for something you believe in. When you feel isolated and disconnected, reach out and help someone.

You are welcome to join us Sunday at 10AM Eastern for our free community class.

Join me live on Insight Timer for a 1/2 hour inquiry into Belonging in Community. 4PM Eastern Saturdays.

Are We In This Together?
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