We live in such a world of turmoil and calamity that even the news-media is struggling to keep up with the latest disaster story. It must be an interesting selection process to decide which disasters to first feature on the news. Of course, the media focus is on what will keep us, the viewers, watching their news channel. Fortunately, in this present age, there are enough disasters taking place that we have a smorgasbord of different choices and at least one of them will hold our attention.
World Disasters and Psychological Stress
Our focus will be partially determined by our empathy with the disasters, our feelings of relief that we were not involved, the fear that it could happen to us and the horrendous potential that we could lose something in the process.
If we reflect on the world, as it is today, with the indiscriminate persecution of innocent men, woman and children, it is horrible and distressing. The slaughtering of civilians in many countries and the persecution of woman in others. There is the devastation to the forests of the world, which means that the animals are losing their habitat and fresh-air supply. The pollution that the human manages to generate through automation, and the desire for bigger, better and more comfortable, is destroying the planet. Right now, the world may not be in the middle of a Great War, but the planet is at war with skirmishes literally breaking out all over the globe.
The Earth itself is erupting, flooding and scorching when the tension and pollution become too much for even that great consciousness. We then have to consider the loss of jobs as a result of a recession or automation. The ‘disaster’ list is endless.
It is no wonder we are having a hard time getting our head around each new calamity and the potential feeling of loss that it may bring within our psyche. We are not robots, so we are affected in some way because of our connection to humanity, a home or a job. We can now start to understand why we are so stressed that we can hardly cope with life.
We might even have asked ourselves:
What is this all about?
Why does there have to be so much suffering in the world?
If we are lucky enough to get an answer from ‘The Ones on High’, then we may find solace in that omnipotent revelation and we can function for another day. However, if we do not get an answer but still want to understand from a basic human level, then the knowledge of balance and harmony within nature may be of some comfort. It may simply come down to the fact that the effect of world disasters on our psyche is determined by how we live our life which is determined by the way we think..
Animals – Living with Harmony and Balance in Nature
Look at how nature functions – it is a tough world in the jungle and I will give you an example. The Lion featured in the picture above is the Alpha Male of 2 prides of Lions within this safari park where my husband took this picture. The Lion is the boss of this safari park and you can see from his demeanour that he is very balanced and content with his life. The fact that there was a truck with 3 people in his way and there was a gun in that truck which would be used to kill him should he attack, didn’t faze him at all.
At the time of this photo he had been away from his southern pride lionesses for a few months as he had been with his northern pride family. He was now tracking the southern pride to reacquaint himself with his harem of lionesses. Oh, and as an aside, he had killed the original alpha male of the northern pride a few years previously which placed him in the enviable position of being the boss of both prides. However, he is 10 years old which is the usual life expectancy of a Lion and very soon a young male will challenge his leadership and this Lion King will be killed. Nothing is permanent.
The King is Dead – Long Live the King
Like most members of the animal kingdom, this Lion and all animals live in harmony and balance with nature and accept what is presented to them in their life. This lion doesn’t seem to care that he only has a few years or less to hold onto his exalted position. He is just getting on with the present task which is to find the southern pride and he seems to be enjoying the stroll. A few years previously he may have killed off any young male who threatened his tenure-ship as the Boss. But that was then, this is now, and the future he will deal with when it happens.
What a great way to live….
In the Small Picture of the Human
It is only in this modern age with the feverish desire for comfort, safety and permanence that the human has developed a phobia about any potential loss. It is the fear of losing ‘some-thing’ that causes us to be unhappy, anxious and stressed. It is no accident that the world-wide stress levels are at epidemic proportions at a time when humans have so many possessions and appear (some of them at least) to have all their desires fulfilled.
However, nothing is permanent and indeed, if you objectively look at what you think you possess, you really possess ‘no-thing’. Even without a disastrous occurrence, your children will leave home (or maybe them NOT leaving is the disastrous event). The dog, cat or goldfish that you love will leave you. Everything is transitory and, if you can appreciate this simple fact, then you will alleviate a lot of your fears, calamitous living and stress. Psychological stress is caused because we think we have to have everything. We believe it is our entitlement (certainly in the Western hemisphere) to have all of our desires met, which is the first part of the ‘stress precipitant’. We then become more stressed that we may lose our amazing possessions.
Try to look objectively at your job, your home, your partner and appreciate that all will move on and nothing can be held in place. The more you try to hold on to them the more unhappy you will become as your neurotic thoughts try to create the impossibility of permanence. We are all going to die and someone else will eventually move into your home or take over your pride.
So, instead of worrying about the disasters of the world or what you personally might lose in your world, just enjoy what you have right now. Appreciate that you are allowed to enjoy what you have in the present, do not be depressed about what you perceive you may have lost in the past and allow that the future can be dealt with later. Clean out the old negative, possessive way of thinking and replace those thoughts with positive, brighter ones. Become the Lion…….
In the Big Picture of the World
As for the disastrously mouth-watering news media world – if each power-hungry dictator or government would stop trying to set up their permanent dynasty then much of the suffering could be stopped or at least alleviated. This philosophy applies to the seizure of land, the building of a child-army, the murdering of members of an opposition party, to the with-holding of knowledge about an aircraft that may have crashed. Just as the media do not report the stories based on the suffering involved, the individuals perpetuating the disaster stories are not doing it for the highest good of the ones that are suffering. They are doing it for their own permanent power and position.
So, my answer to you for dealing with World Disasters and Calamity at a basic human level
Change the way you think. Focus on your own life and don’t get too caught up in the misery that is out there. Of course, if you can do something to help then great news – go for it. But, remember that the healing starts from within your own heart and mind, so you have to be balanced within your own life. Then through that peace and harmony you can alleviate some of the suffering with your prayers, blessings or physical presence – if you are able to help at that level.
But only through detached compassion will you be able to give true assistance. And detached compassion requires you to be at balance within yourself and to learn to think clearly. Let go of trying to hold onto anything and remember nothing is permanent – including this present world or personal disasters.
World Disasters and Psychological Stress
About Liz McCaughey
If you are unable to travel to Liz’s practice, there is an online portal where Skype appointments can be arranged.
Liz has recently opened her new business aMindset in Hong Kong. aMindset is a comprehensive mental health resource that incorporates Psychotherapy, Counselling, Mentoring and Workshops. Liz originally founded the company “Kumara“ in Perth, Western Australia in 2003. This company is affiliated with aMindset and you can read more about Kumara in the website KumaraHub.