Lately, being a US citizen living in the US has left me feeling frustrated, terrified, sad, angry, and numb. Following my own advice (for once), I have limited my engagement on social media and tried to stay focused on each specific task ahead of me. I have taken it day-by-day in an effort to feel like I am in control of my life. While these things have worked to get me through each day, they have not changed a thing in the outside world. I have managed my emotions effectively for the moment, but I have done nothing to create an environment where it doesn't take quite so much effort not to be afraid to drop my child off at school or go to a public place. So, yes, for the last week, I have been "just surviving."
How then do we transition from the place of survival to the place of progress? From a psychological perspective, we need to survive in the moment of crisis so that we are able to tackle change once the crisis has passed. We need to take things day-by-day until we feel steady enough to add to our psychological burden by allowing in our emotions and then problem solving.
Question: So how do we know when it's time to transition?
Answer: Test yourself - Get on social media, talk to someone about the event, just somehow expose yourself to whatever it is that initially triggered paralyzing emotion and see how that goes. If you can handle it without crawling back into bed, running away, having nightmares, or some other debilitating reaction, then you're probably ready to move forward. If not? Well, then you're not ready. Survive another day (or week) and then try again.
Question: Then what?
Answer: Brainstorm - Make a list of things that you want to do to change the world that you live in. While we cannot control others, we can control how we behave. Do you want to join an activist agency? Apply for citizenship somewhere else? Homeschool your kids?
List out every possible crazy idea you might have, evaluate the pros and cons of each, decide on a solution, take action, and finally evaluate the outcome and regroup if needed.
Sometimes it is beneficial to "just survive." In fact, I have a dedicated playlist on my iTunes called "Surviving" just for the times when that's really what I need. However, you do not want to get stuck there. You and the world will never grow. So remember, survive when you need to, test yourself, brainstorm, and problem solve. You and the world will be better off.