If they’re not doing anything dangerous, illegal or immoral, let them be. Give them space and independence. (Just first define dangerous/ illegal/ immoral. Then remind them that you are here and would love to hear about anything they want to share.)
Default to "nice guy." Meaning it should require something significant for you NOT to be nice. Give people the benefit of the doubt. Cut them (and yourself) some slack. Life is hard. We're all in this together.
People always say “Be yourself.” That’s good advice but really what does it mean? I think it’s easier to explain what it DOESN’T mean:
When you’re being yourself you’re not pretending to be interested in something or someone you’re not.
You’re not doing something just to please someone else (or just to tick them off.) You’re not wearing anything that makes you feel uncomfortable. You’re not pretending to have fun when you’re not having fun. You’re not trying to impress anyone. You’re not trying to fade into the background. You’re not trying to change anything about yourself or someone else.
I think that’s a good start. What does “being yourself” mean to you?
Sometimes when you win, you lose. And when you lose, you win. Meaning that sometimes when you get what you want it doesn’t work out well. And sometimes wonderful things happen as a result of a failure or disappointment.
Chin up. There’s a million paths to happiness and fulfillment. If one doesn’t work out your will find another.
Relationship advice: Is she interesting? You’ll spend more time with her than anyone in your life. Does she make you laugh? Will she make a good mom? Life is long. These are the things that matter.”
-Paraphrased quote from Barack Obama
There are all kinds of ways people end up destroying their lives in an attempt to cope with fear, loneliness, stress, grief, boredom or anxiety, etc.
A few: Drug/alcohol addiction, gambling, shopping/ spending addiction, hoarding, sex addiction, fundamentalism/ extremist politics, workaholics, deadbeats.
Nobody starts out trying to be an addict or a nut. It happens when you continually choose to avoid dealing with the pain or anxiety you’re feeling. Choices become habits. Habits can form addictions.
That’s why it’s SO important to find healthy ways to deal with difficult feelings or situations. What makes you feel better when you’re upset? A shower, a run, music, a game, friends, quiet time, being outdoors ... There are lots of ways to take good care of your spirit. Keep choosing them. Ask for help when you’re not able to make good choices on your own.
Violent thunderstorms can be dangerous. Avoid driving or being out in severe weather: car accidents, downed trees, high winds, lightning, flash floods, etc. are all potentially deadly. Don’t take your safety for granted. If the weather is severe, stay sheltered unless you absolutely positively have to be out and about.
Think about building a career. Take low-paying or no-paying jobs that will give you the experience you need to build it. It's not all about the paycheck, especially when you're young and don't have too many bills to pay.
Cindy Otis, former CIA analyst offers great advice for dealing with the overwhelming onslaught of scary world news:
Here are several risks to being overloaded with disturbing/negative content.
✔️ Complacency - becoming so used to the deluge that it all starts to seem normal.
✔️ Paralysis - that is, being so overwhelmed, you can't figure out what to do/how to move forward.
✔️ Crisis perspective - you get trapped in the Breaking News cycle where everything seems like a potentially world-ending crisis to you.
✔️ Depression/PTSD - you don't have to be on the frontline of a war have either/both. Disturbing content is absolutely a trigger.
There are also serious physical consequences to living a negative content overloaded life. I had a colleague who didn't know he had stage 4 brain cancer because the symptoms were the same as our very stressful careers--exhaustion, random fevers, stress, and dizziness.
So, what do you do? First, I strongly urge you not to ignore the news/current events. Ignorance is one reason we have this society. It won't make the problems go away & contributes nothing to their solving. Now that that's established, here's how to make it easier to handle:
1. TAKE ACTION. Volunteer for a food pantry, canvass for a political candidate, donate to a NGO, visit a sick friend. Seriously. Service of some kind in your community lets you be part of SOLUTIONS. You will see RESULTS when otherwise you'd feel helpless.
2. Conversely, for those who may take tip #1 to the extreme--know that you alone can't save the world. Accept your limits. You aren't a 7/11. You can't always be open. At the end of every day when I reached my limit, I silently told myself, "I've done what I can today."
(Note: Repeating that to myself did not stop me from feeling like I could have done more most days. But it was important to tell myself anyway because I am human. We are human. It's good we *feel* things.)
3. RESEARCH BEFORE PANICKING. Easier said than done, but everything will seem like crisis/earth-ending if you don’t know what has/hasn't happened before. If it has happened before, it's can be hugely comforting to know how it was resolved and/or what might happen next. (9/)
4. GET UP & MOVE. Put the phone away, turn off the TV, log out of Twitter. Go for a walk, sit outside, get some coffee, call a friend. CIA is full of ppl walking the building with a colleague/friend. There's a reason. Our brains & bodies need breaks from stressful content. (10/)
5. SET RULES. Because of my work at CIA, I had a rule--I only read fiction at home. I had enough reality at work. In the civilian world, I set blocks of time each day where I turn everything off--no news or social media. Let yourself recharge so you can keep fighting later. (11/)
6. AVOID DARK HOLES. (I'm sure there's a joke to be made about that.) It's easy to get sucked into the swirl of bad news. You watch a gruesome YouTube video and the next one is all queued up to play right after it. Focus on one issue at a time. Deal w/ it before moving on. (12/)
7. YOU NEED FUN. When there is suffering, war, despair, etc. around you, it's easy to feel guilty when you have fun, feel happy, have a good meal with friends. You NEED these things. You will be better able to do good in the world if you let yourself have these things. (13/)
8. TALK TO SOMEONE. Often, we curl inward socially when overwhelmed w/ negative content. It's a means of protection. One of the great things at CIA was that everyone else knew what you were going through. Whether it's therapy or talking to your person, talking helps.
Walking at night during the wintertime remember to wear a bright scarf or something reflective. So many pedestrians get hit when it’s dark outside because they’re wearing dark colors and drivers can’t see them.
You can’t selectively numb feelings. The inclination to drink, use, shop, gamble, etc. is real but it’s a lie that it will make you feel better. Numbing makes this much, much worse. So feel! The good, the bad, the scary. Talk about your feelings, write about them or create something from your feelings. This is how to process in a healthy way.