How to Stay Cool When the World Is on Fire

I find myself being weirdly ok even as my country progressively resembles a giant dumpster fire. If you watched the recent presidential debates and didn’t lose all hope for humanity, I applaud you. I turned it off and back on three times. I want things to make sense, but more importantly, I want love to triumph over hate.

Anyway, I don’t want to talk about politics. I want to talk about our collective mental health and our use of substances to cope. I want to know what sustains you when you’re overwhelmed?

I hope you have lots of answers to that question and I hope that list includes some pretty stellar people. I am grateful for the folks my Higher Power puts in my life. When I look at my support system, my ego would like to believe that I’m so clever that I went out and found these folks – but it’s just not true.

We take turns propping each other up. We hold space for each other. I cringe when I hear those I serve say, “I have people who are there for me if I need them.” Ok, but if we wait until we’re in need there’s a lot of problems with this approach:

  • We have high pain tolerances – so our gauge of when we need them is way off.
  • By the time we need them, we’re overwhelmed and unlikely to reach out.
  • Our addictive brains tell us that we’re a burden and shouldn’t impose.

I joke with my clients that I’m the neediest man they’ve ever met. I need people I haven’t even met yet. I need lots of space and I’m very loud. To paraphrase Anne Lamott; I’m very hopeful, but I’m also quite mentally ill. Maintaining connections therefore is vital to my very health.

“We will not fall, because we have each other.” – Shinedown Unity

Music is a huge part of how we cope. It’s a bit of gallows humor but I find myself listening to REM’s End of the World as We Know It and laughing. Oh, and If you’re not already aware of the cover songs done by the band Disturbed, you should check them out now and thank me later:

Their latest is Sting’s If I Ever Lose My Faith” –

“Some would say I was a lost man in a lost world
You could say I lost my faith in the people on TV
You could say I’d lost my belief in our politicians
They all seemed like game show hosts to me
If I ever lose my faith in you
There’d be nothing left for me to do.”

That kind of faith isn’t just about my Higher Power – it’s about those I love as myself as well.