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A Real Human’s Guide to Thriving When the World is Bat Sh!t Crazy

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This morning I almost started crying during my QiGong practice.

When I’m anxious I pick at the side of my thumbs. I realized this morning I’d done that until I was bleeding, and hadn’t even notice doing it.

I’ve snapped at my kiddo more times than I care to admit in the last couple of days.

I’m overly sensitive right now and I know exactly why.

The world is experiencing a turbulent transition. It's an evolution of sorts, whether you're excited about the changes to come or not. With that kind of shift there is always a healthy dose of uncertainty that can feel like anxiety. Anxiety, like everything else, is contagious.

Chances are pretty high that over the next few days you are going to feel a little bit off.

  • You might be a little more tired.

  • You might be cranky.

  • You might tear up over things that should make you smile.

  • You might be listless or restless.

  • You might find yourself distracted.

The human empathetic response is not imaginary. It’s a real, measurable, physical thing.

A group of scientists led by Christian Keysers have done studies that prove it. The researchers had their participants watch short movie clips of people being touched, while using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to record their brain activity. The brain scans revealed that the somatosensory cortex, a complex of brain regions processing touch information, was highly active during the movie presentations—although participants were not being touched at all. As was later confirmed by other studies, this activity strongly resembled the somatosensory response participants showed when they were actually touched in the same way. A recent study by Esther Kuehn and colleagues even found that, during the observation of a human hand being touched, parts of the somatosensory cortex were particularly active when (judging by perspective) the hand clearly belonged to another person.

What does that mean to you? It means that you can’t help but feel the pain of others. Resistance might be more than futile. When you witness the suffering of another, you are affected. When the world is suffering, with or without your conscious awareness, you are impacted.

A wave of empathy creates an autonomic physiological response in your body. Resisting that requires a massive amount of physical and emotional energy. It’s not just ok to feel fragile and vulnerable. It might be required.

This shared response, however, is not a bad thing. It’s actually quite lovely.

When you experience the heartbreak or pain of another you get to reap the rewards of that experience without the direct impact on your life. Your heart opens wide with compassion. You love with more sharpness and intensity. You appreciate the beauty and fragile nature of life and everything around you. Change reminds us of the best parts of humanity because we all come together in ways we wouldn’t otherwise and we feel that connectedness more intimately.

In practical terms, there are some things you can do to mitigate the effects of your empathetic responses.

Be aware of your tendency to want to numb the feelings. Feeling them is actually good for you and when you do they pass without much fanfare.

You might find yourself sitting in front of the TV or standing in front of the refrigerator more without even realizing why. You know the kinds of habits you have when you’re trying to stuff or bury your feelings. Just be aware when those habits kick up. Most people are so well practiced they don’t notice the feelings before they activate numbing habits. So, use your behavior as an indicator you need to ease into your feelings rather than hide from them.

When you feel helpless try to flow love in a very literal way.

Just the same way you are connected to others in crisis, they are also connected to you. So, visualize or imagine yourself sending bright white light or strong waves of love. Being intentional about what you’re feeding into the field that connects us all will make more difference than your rational mind can comprehend.

Do something for someone. Acts of random kindness are very powerful medicine.

It may or may not be someone you know. It may be, but probably won’t be, someone affected by the tragedy at hand. Helping anyone will ease the collective suffering and it will leave you feeling more empowered and centered. It will also be an antidote to any feelings of depression that might crop up.

Double up on your self-care.

Rest more. Drink more water. Get out in nature more often and for longer than you normally would. Hug a tree. I kid you not. It will help.

I don’t think there’s a study to prove it, however, I would bet big money that colds and flu around the world will happen at a higher rate than normal after a world event that triggers a stress reaction. Now is the time to prioritize taking care of your body and your spirit.

Hug everyone. You need it and so does everyone else.

Science has proven again and again that hugs are good for the immune system and they trigger feel good brain chemicals. Hugs are nature’s best anti-depressant and anti-anxiety drug. This is a time to love everyone fiercely and without reservation.

Most importantly, focus on the beauty rather than the anxiety because it’s there. The light always shines brightest in the dark.

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Lisa Hayes, The Love Whisperer, is an LOA Relationship Coach. She helps clients leverage Law of Attraction to get the relationships they dream about and build the lives they want. Lisa is the author of the newly released hit book, Score Your Soulmate and How to Escape from Relationship Hell and The Passion Plan.

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