If we look at what is happening around us today, it can feel that the world is spinning out of control.
Open any newspaper, turn on any TV, read the headlines online or even check your phone's text alerts and you're bombarded: The economy, poverty, the government shutdown, a looming debt limit battles, global warming, Egypt, bus wreck, Syria, Obamacare, schools banning ball at recess, a blind man beaten on the streets, racism -- and that's just one day, and without even taking into account personal and work issues.
For many of us it seems overwhelming, especially if we allow ourselves to care.
So, how do we remain sane in these insane times?
I believe the tools lie with our inner resources, as expressed in a series of relationships.
Relationship with self:
The relationship we have with ourselves starts with being wholly self-aware without being judgmental or self-effacing. Only then can we cultivate the capacity to sense our strong emotions without being defined by them. When we know ourselves we can be more open with ourselves -- relating to ourselves not as we think we should be, but as who we truly are, and giving us a chance to be our best self. If we are aware of ourselves inwardly, we learn to stand strong outwardly.
Relationship with others:
Relationships with others also begin with self-awareness, the characteristic that allows us to relate to others in recognition of our common desire to feel safe, trusted, loved and nourished. We all desire for someone to listen to us, pay attention to us, even challenge us. We form much of ourselves within the framework of our relationships with others as we develop, grow and change within relationships. Our own self-awareness and our connection to others are the strongest forces in staying sane.
Relationship with stress:
Stress is a double-edge sword -- it can be a wake-up call or it can cause our demise. Stress can make us sick, but it can also stimulate us to make changes and learn new things. When we differentiate between the bad stress that causes us to feel overwhelmed and the good stress that causes us to keep us fit and purposeful, we can forge ahead without feeling overwhelmed by circumstances.
Relationship with our stories
We live in relationship with our own stories -- the ones we believe, the ones we edit as we grow and we change, the ones that come from our beliefs. Many of us have stories that begin I am never going to be... I can't handle... I don't... I can't.... When we realize what we are saying, we can work on changing the narrative. Instead of defining ourselves, we can adjust ourselves. Learning how to revise our own stories gives us the power to navigate sanely through chaos and confusion.
It's never going to be easy to remain sane when we're surrounded by insanity, but it is worth trying.
These inner resources -- our relationships with ourselves, with others, with stress and with our stories -- are the cornerstone to our sanity. They give us choices in how we react to what is happening around us, and the capacity to live with what we deal with on a daily basis.
We must keep ourselves sane to make the changes we want to see in the world.
We must keep ourselves sane to make a difference with those in our lives and those we do business with.
We must keep ourselves sane to tell our stories so others can learn from us.
Most of all, we must keep ourselves sane so the stress does not consume us and we can move toward a better future -- even in the face of insanity.