It is difficult to describe the recent and current state of our country...Hatred, oppression, closed-mindedness, diffusion of responsibility, fear, criticism, and doubt are a few that come close. What's unfolding in society can only be internalized by truly understanding that we are all humans. We are the same thing. Nothing more and nothing less. Everybody makes mistakes, everybody makes poor decisions, and everybody is fighting a battle we know nothing about.
We are so quick to judge, to criticize, and to escalate a situation, that we barely leave any time to step back, breathe, and reflect. Polarizing language, controversial characters, and the mass media have been very effective in minimizing our greatest traits as human beings: The ability to love, to connect, to think for oneself, and to appreciate the moments we have for the gifts that they are.
As I understand more about human psychology in periods of fear and uncertainty, it has become clear that no family member, co-worker, classmate, boss, political or religious leader, or social media influencer will ever be able to provide an answer that satisfies human nature’s continually evolving demands. No other human being can ever bring us eternal, everlasting happiness. Society as a whole is looking outwards for a cure to the unrest, sadness, impatience, and violence that has recently taken our country by storm. Too frequently people are turning to cynicism, criticism, civil disobedience and violence to cope with their dissatisfaction. When something goes wrong, don’t look for somebody or something to blame or for somebody to make you happy. This manner of dealing with unfairness and inequality is sure to destroy the human spirit and deprive the soul. As much as society wants to tell you otherwise, you and only YOU have the power to control your thoughts and happiness!
The polarization of society has made social media a breeding ground for disagreement, personal attacks, and hatred. Naturally, there are people with radically different views than you or me. Is hammering home your point worth sacrificing your happiness or losing your cool? This may temporarily distill immediate frustrations, but doesn’t get to the core of the internal turmoil affecting your well-being and probably won’t have any influence on the cause.
One technique that has been effective in helping me live in the moment and stay grounded is incorporating Verbal Command Requests (VCR). Taught by former Navy SEAL Richard Machowicz, a VCR is a specifically structured technique that elicits a known result. Specifically, the VCR is a verbalized command you give yourself to influence your thoughts and condition your actions to consistently yield a specific outcome. Recently, people have made decisions that are outside of my control. To better deal with life’s unpredictability and volatility, I have associated the words, “level-headedness” with mental calmness and patience. This command reminds me that we are all humans who equally deserve grace, kindness, and respect. I recall these words in situations that require my patience, in circumstances that I do not personally agree with, and when events occur that are out of my control. This VCR is effective because the words “level-headedness” specifically relate to my immediate priority: Mental clarity and calmness. I recommend giving this technique a try by identifying a few words that bring out your desired emotional or mental state and repeating them to yourself when the environment elicits.
Now is the time for inclusivity, understanding, and open-mindedness. With enough reinforcement, stillness, and intention, we can all learn to reduce the noise, focus on what’s important, live simply, and give a little more love, patience, and grace to both ourselves and our neighbors.