By Sanah Thakur
The play button is jammed in the stereo of bad news. Twitterstorms frequent headlines as commonly as real natural disasters. ‘Human rights violations’ is an Olympic sport, with competing governments outdoing one another. Forests are on fire, policies are deeming futile, media is spurring moral panic and citizens are confused. More importantly, the stakeholders of power are reacting with oppressive action, leaving most individuals in the world, completely powerless. Yet, power can be cultivated by anyone who asks the right questions. It is in the midst of chaos, that as an individual, I look to myself for answers. What is the power I hold and is it strong enough to press pause?
Luxury of Time
Bad news is standard to a global society like ours and living in a world where information spreads in supersonic speed, it only seems overwhelming when there’s no lull in the storm. And yet despite the crashing world, the capitalist wheel still turns, forcing us to continue working – because hey, bills still need to be paid even if the world is on fire. This arrogance comes with a privilege, but why let it blind you to the benefits of the same privilege. Time is a luxury not many can afford to buy, especially when problems directly impact their survival. The haphazard nature in which everyone rushes into a reaction so they can become ‘reacted’, isn’t a healthy or efficient way of dealing with anything. I watch as story reels are replayed with anger, fear, hate and irritation, only to lead to uninformed, quick emotional gasps of breath. This luxury of time is not an excuse to be complacent with our reaction, but an invitation to garner a reaction that can have the most impact. With every action or opinion we voice/back, highlighting your own intentions allows you to maintain consistency. Why do I think this is important? What about the matter is personal to me? How can I separate my action from the emotions surrounding my intentions? If I need to react immediately, which is the most direct and effective way I can? Who am I really doing this for? These are some questions I use to understand my own moral dilemma.
Pause for clarity
Stories are designed to stir up emotions, shape narratives and blur lines of objectivity. If one piece of news can be successful in causing emotional turbulence, imagine the impact of five, ten or fifteen media stories. This high of emotions can trick us into believing that we’re doing enough – being sympathetic, feeling for the cause. However, constantly reacting emotionally can drain our energy and push us into a state of numbness. So how do we turn this rush of chemicals into instruction rather than destruction? Most stories play on our high energy emotions, such as anger, sadness and surprise. It is these emotions that deplete our energy levels quicker than low energy emotions such as joy or love. Taking a second to pause and focus on the level at which our energy is, can change this equation dramatically.
After reading or hearing a few pieces of news, ask yourself how you feel emotionally? On a scale of 1 through 10, how energetic do you feel? Can you separate the objective facts from the pieces of information that triggered your subjective experience? During your emotional experience, saying PAUSE to yourself, can help you direct this energy into action that can solve a problem as opposed to magnifying the rippling effect of feelings.
Pause to Point Back
Another problem with hurried decisions of action is the ignorance of responsibility. Getting caught up with our emotions and opinions about a topic can naturally lead us to look for blame; the bad guy, the power to direct all energy towards. By allowing ourselves to pause and take a look at the situation, we can focus on taking responsibility for the information we take in, the action we choose and the people we plan to join forces with. Discussions and arguments are necessary and almost inevitable, yet using a personal narrative at a time when objectivity is most desired, can be redundant. This is where taking responsibility is key. We can only be in control of the things we say and do, so using the childish method of blame is pointless, even if it feels gratifying.
The world rings with instantaneous; actions and reactions. That doesn’t imply that we don’t have a choice. I believe it’s important that we use our seats of choice to make informed decisions by exploiting the time, clarity and objectivity that privilege can offer us. You can only use your power effectively if you have paused long and hard enough to understand it. Pause, because you can.
The author can be contacted on Instagram @sincerelysanah
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