So at this point, you, like me, have probably seen dozens of posts about what a dumpster fire 2020 is turning out to be.
You might have even made a few of those posts yourself.
Social media assuredly has its downsides, but one of its upsides is that it gives us the opportunity to vent, and to have our feelings acknowledged and validated by others of like mind.
(The research suggests that social media mostly connects us to others of like mind— which does create the “echo chamber” problem…but it’s kind of nice when it comes to expressing ourselves and feeling less alone.)
The thing is, when every other post we see on social media is about how much of a dumpster fire this year or the world is; or how scared and angry people are at the current situation; or how hopeless and frustrated people are about the immediate future…it becomes a little awkward when we have something OTHER than negative feelings to report.
I’ve talked to a few people recently who have expressed that they feel guilty for actually feeling good, making progress, or having positive life events occur during this time when everybody else seems to be unhappy.
It’s a drag, but completely understandable. When other people are expressing— often colorfully and at length— how unhappy they are, it can feel like poor form to insert a positive experience we’re having into the mix.
If you’re feeling this way— awkward or guilty for having positive things happen to you or feeing good right now— you’re not alone.
And that feeling of awkwardness is, in a way, kind of good news. It means you have empathy, which in turn means you’re not a narcissist or a sociopath.
(I hope the narcissists or sociopaths following my page is relatively low anyway, but just in case you were wondering, the presence of empathy is a good indicator that you’re not.)
Yes, it’s awkward to feel good or to have positive things happen during a time when the entire world seems to be on fire.
But you don’t have to feel guilty.
The fact is, no matter how bad things get out there, there will always be at least some distinction between your personal life and the big picture.
Yes, the two are very intertwined. We’re very much a part of the whole, and what happens to the whole absolutely reverberates in our individual experience. The distinction between our lives and the life of the plant and its inhabitants is often a very thin one.
But the fact remains that you can experience something in your life that may seem to run somewhat counter to what the majority of the world is experiencing.
Some people had good things happen to them on September 11, 2001.
Some people had good things happen to them on November 22, 1963.
And some people are having good things happen to them right now, in the midst of this public health crisis.
Why is it important to acknowledge this?
Because we all need to realize that, no matter what’s happening in the world at large, we still have to experience and manage our own lives.
Yes, we need to keep up with what’s happening in the world. Yes, we need to do our part to take care of our fellow humans and be part of global solutions as opposed to global problems.
But we also need to take care of ourselves.
I know I sound like a broken record on this point, but I’ll say it again: taking care of ourselves is not in conflict with doing our part to take care of our fellow humans and help heal society.
The truth is we need to do both.
We cannot neglect our own lives because we’re throwing all our energy into saving the world.
I’ve met therapists, doctors, and first responders— people I consider genuine heroes— who have created absolutely miserable personal lives because they’ve neglected the balance between caring for themselves and caring for others.
It does not serve the world for you to be miserable.
If anything, you being miserable makes you less able to contribute to big picture solutions.
Mind the distinction between your life and the life of the world at large right now.
And don’t feel bad if you don’t feel as bad as every post on your social media feed.
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