Not being able to fix it all…
This week has been one of those weeks… one of those weeks, where I was somewhat overwhelmed by the drama of the world. An excerpt: I watched this comment on the state of the environment. I read about 800 and 400 people drowning when trying to cross the sea in order to come to the EU and find a better life. I read (again) about the dangerous situation of LGBT people in Russia. I heard about a single mom with two children and suicide-thoughts. Read about the Earthquake in Nepal. I realized that I still don’t know all the countries of the African continent and the conflicts that are going on there. And I had a conversation about how much of our movements, online and off are probably documented somewhere – big brother?
And there are so many more tragedies happening at the same time in this world, which I can’t even begin to grasp. So many places that feel like the most important place to change something, so that the world won’t collapse.
I grew up in quite a privileged place and time. Sometimes I think as a white, western european woman from a wealthy family, there has not been a better time to be alive so far. And then I live in Denmark – the allegedly happiest country in the world. Or one of the happiest at least. Working with people who also are quite privileged in many ways, teaching them about fear and how to deal with pain.
I can get these moments of wondering, what it is I’m doing? If there should be other areas to invest time and energy, that would make a bigger difference for the world as a whole?
At the same time I believe, that all humans continue to fight for a life that we like. Some people want to preserve nature, some will want to further technical progress. We’ll continue and if our world as we know it will collapse, it will collapse. Or it will become unlivable for us as human beings.
I guess, I currently believe that when humans die, nature will take charge and recover. It is my impression, that this is what is happening in most places. Nature and Earth as we know it will probably be destroyed eventually. But I want to ask a question that might be slightly taboo.
Looking at the world and the way it has developed as long as we know, it has changed quite a lot. The living beings have adapted to the different ways of earth. Some species die, others appear. I actually believe, what we’ll manage to destroy is probably the way we know life today. But if life has appeared before, why shouldn’t it continue in another form? I don’t think it is possible to destroy life.
That being said – I like life and I like humans. Sometimes we’re incredibly stupid, annoying and unbearable, too. But most of the time I like humans, I like their ability to learn and to adapt. I like the sense of belonging, of community and working together that can appear. I find it fascinating to see how we can survive and find meaning. I find amazing in which circumstances humans live, creatively finding solutions for their challenges.
And as long as I’m alive, I want to participate in the quest to better the conditions we live in.
So will working with people who are in „privileged places“ and situations anyways, do that?
I guess it is a question of making choices, in a situation where not everything can be done at once.
And it is my impression and personal experience – that suffering is so individual that it can be just as strong, whether you’re actually quite privileged or not. If you perceive yourself as the victim of a situation or haven’t learned, how to deal with a certain kind of emotion or situation as it wasn’t „supposed to happen“, this can be overwhelming. And knowing that this is „just a first world problem“ might stop the expression of dissatisfaction, but not necessarily the individual sensation of suffering.
Friday night I was flying to London and my plane was 2hrs delayed. Which involved a lot of waiting. Then the bus also didn’t come. It was cold, late and quite annoying. However, it also is no big deal really. When I was standing there, waiting for the bus with two young Danish guys, and one of them said „if the bus is also going to be delayed, this is REALLY going to be worst evening of my life“. When I asked, whether more things have happened than the delays, he said that he had thought the flight would have been shorter, too. So in total he was in London 3hours later than expected.
Part of me just wants to flick this guys forehead and make him wake up. Come on – the worst evening in your life?
Two hours after I was smirking over this guy’s frustration, I was standing outside London Blackfriars, freezing, waiting a bit annoyed for my Uber and thinking „this seems to be the worst evening of my life“. I had to laugh after this thought, feeling caught for my moment of superiority from before.
However continuing the thought on frustration, pain and despair – even though is is a mild example, I notice how his frustration is real in that moment. I have never heard of so many people being on „sick-leave“ due to stress as here in Denmark. In a country where most people don’t work more than 37 hrs per week and many work less. And I have never heard of so many people with long term symptoms of concussions. Or even just fear of concussion. You could think that the concussions have something to do with them biking so much, but there are also many stories of just people hitting their heads into something. Not even hard. I never heard of so many „særlig sensitive“ people, being overwhelmed by noise, people or emotions.
My hypothesis is, that there is a strong cultural aspect in these experiences that has something to do with intensity.
When life normally is quite controlled and very few unforeseen and frustrating things happen, if they do, this can feel extremely overwhelming. Because when are you supposed to learn, how to deal with things that are intense, when they don’t happen to you?
And having gone through an experience of stress myself and having worked with quite a few clients with these symptoms: the sensation of not being able to cope is very real. Compared to other people’s lives, life in Denmark seems so easy and relaxed; an extreme example of comfortable, western life. Where all you can have „are first world problems“. But still – people suffer. Sometimes I wonder if the „happiness studies“ where Denmark is on top are „comfort studies“? Otherwise it doesn’t really fit together with what I experience. People here are comfortable in many ways. Tryg – as they say.
But is that the same as happy? I don’t think it’s necessary… Being frustrated and annoyed seems to be a very human feature, just as loving and caring is and jealousy and gratefulness. Those sensations seldom go away by thinking „I shouldn’t feel this way, because it’s just a first world problem“. It seems to me, that the pain or fear that isn’t allowed to be experienced because it is „unreasonable“, stays somewhere under the surface until it is too much. And then, if we never experience intensity and how to deal with it, even a little more of it will be overwhelming.
Theoretically it might be clear, that everything is fine. But how to deal? What to do? If we are never allowed to experience what we feel, how are we supposed notice what we want and what we don’t? Where to put our energy in this ocean of options? What is really harming our lives and what is just harming our pride?
After this week of wondering what it is I’m doing here, I received a mail from my client saying „I think of you often and what you opened for me. I landed inside myself, as a whole Frederik*. It took some time to learn the effects of our sessions and really go the steps towards my freedom. I am strong in myself, strong enough that I can help others to stand on their own.“
He is into teaching about nature. Another one of my clients, who was suffering from stress and exhaustion is supporting refugees to find good (or better) solutions to live. There are teachers, cancer-researching scientists, depression-hotline agents, international relations and communications aficionados, psychologists, nurses, parents, artists, movement teachers…
I think, the world won’t benefit from a „western world“ that is „supposed to be satisfied“ but is actually suffering.
I’ve for a long time been interested in finding ways that are empowering for people to build the life that they would like to live. And as always, there are probably 10 (000) other ways to do it.
But there are some very simple, concrete tools I learned, which I adapt to my particular life, body and mind. And that I’m happy to show to whoever else would like to learn.
I have been happy for having a companion – who wasn’t making everything quiet and hushed, but in moments of intensity in my own life just was there. And it was always such a relief. Not to „have to be fine because really, I’m privileged and have a super life“ – but being allowed to feel pain, feel small and overwhelmed. Noticing this sensation and then also noticing that actually, I’m fine. I’m alive. I grow. And I actually have a super life and the ability to deal with moments that feel bigger, more challenging than what I have expected. I can breathe, I can move, I can stand strong or be soft and adapt to the intensity of the situation.
It’s learning with the body, tricks as you will, to stop old habits of dealing and trying out new ones. Ready to fail, ready to take the gravity of my suffering less seriously, while acknowledging my own pain and fear more. Allowing each experience to be there as it is. And allowing it to pass and change again. Not to hold onto and feel self-pity or self-righteousness. In my experience it makes life less dramatic and more intense. Allowing to be human, to be vulnerable, to be hurt. And allowing to be strong and grow and laugh.
Trackback from your site.