Navigating Division: How to Handle Tough Times with Compassion

Updated: Jun 11

There is no way to ignore what is happening in our country right now. Now is a time of challenging emotions and psychology. Police brutality and more specifically the killing of George Floyd seems to have popped a bubble. Anger, sadness, and grief seem to be at an all time high. Finding understanding, positivity and a sense of personal responsibility is challenging and feels impossible to navigate.


Talk About the Problems More than Your Feelings


It sometimes seems that working through anger, fears and frustrations is the best way to cope. But the truth is, repeatedly broadcasting negative emotions hinders our natural ability to adapt and our ability to effectively cope.


Instead, call out your emotions. Acknowledge discomfort, frustration, anger, sadness, grief, or whatever emotion is surfacing in your experience. This makes problems solvable. This is also a great place to practice positive affirmations. Try, “I am enough.” “I love and appreciate myself just as I am.” Maybe your experience just needs a “Thank you,” most of them do.


Are you stressed over stress?


As Stanford psychologist Kelly McGonigal argues in The Upside of Stress, your reaction to stress has a greater impact on your health and success than the stress itself. Shifting your perspective from that of "stress has overcome me," to that of "stress carries me through my challenges," is empowering and supports healing.


Questions to help you reflect are, is this true? What is my stress trying to help me overcome or accomplish? Can you empathize?


Your Values Are Bigger Than Your Fears


All of us have family, friends, religious or spiritual convictions, music we adore, and creative expressions. All of these special things, people, ideas, and talents are like your backpack of treasures. These are all buffers against your troubles.


The antidote to fear is to strengthen your mind with 10 minutes of journaling. Just ten minutes to journal about your values and how they make you better. This helps us to rise to the occasion and helps us to realize a challenge situation cannot in anyway takeaway from our personal identity.


You Are Not Free From Change


Even though you are not free from change, you do get to decide how you respond to change. You can make new friends, find new love, have courageous conversation. What we put our focus on grows, and our thoughts create our reality. If you are focused on resistance, and limitation the result is oftentimes completely succumbing to bitterness and despair.


Accept change and employ your freedom to lean into something new. Life is easier when you can find acceptance for the fact that change is constant. It is vital to remain engaged and to let go of resistance to change.


You can’t return to the good ol’ days.


Courageous Conversation


This is a time where it is important to step outside of yourself, to step away from your emotions, and have courageous conversations. There are many people ready to engage in tough conversation in order to gain new perspective.


In order to have courageous conversations you have to know what you want to happen and make an affirmative case. There is no need to impose your vision on others, instead share, listen, be respectful to those with differing views and be clear on where you stand.


Compassion is required for change to take hold. Sometimes digging deep is required and taking that dive can hinder you or hep you to navigate and face your fears. There is no better time than now to get intimate with your fear. Stay present.


© 2020 by Markesha Miller, Ph.D.