“Anxious.” “Exhausted.” “Sad.” “Depressed.” “Overwhelmed.” These are the feelings I am hearing about over and over as I talk to clients and friends. One thread that seems to be binding us right now is that we are collectively experiencing a journey into the unknown. So much of what we’ve counted on being true in the past is no longer there and the future is uncertain to say the least. Socially, economically, environmentally, politically—what will happen?
Of course, the future is always uncertain. But in the past, many of us have been able to ignore that truth to a greater or lesser extent depending on our life history and privilege. These days uncertainty simply can’t be ignored–and our brains don’t like that. Our reptilian, mammalian and primate systems have strong needs for safety (reptilian), satisfaction (mammalian), and connection (primate). And the emotions we are collectively feeling are, to a great degree, a result of a lack of those needs getting met. Or the fear that in the future they won’t get met. What will happen to my job? My business? My kids’ ability to go to school? My ability to put a roof over our heads? The long-term health of loved ones if they get Covid-19?
There are no easy answers. And I don’t mean to ignore the social, political, and environmental actions we need to take. But to sustain us in the uncertainty of the long haul, while we work toward the future we want to inhabit, there are emotional experiences we can cultivate to support our inner need for safety, satisfaction, and connection:
that state of tranquility, quiet, and harmony, for our reptilian brain.
that sense of enoughness, for our mammalian brain.
that experience of bonding to and caring for others, for our primate brain.
Where and how do you find peace, contentment, and love on a regular basis? For me, it’s meditation for peace, the practice of gratitude for contentment, and my work as a Development Guide with SheEO Ventures for love. Each of us has to find our own ways.
Please hear this: It is not self-centered to find ways on a daily basis to meet these very important primal needs. Think of it as first aid for your body/mind/spirit. Without it, you will be constantly being depleted by these systems calling out for relief. With it, you will have the energy and brain space to make the difference that only you can.
Written by MJ Ryan
Photo by United Nations