Here’s what I’m hearing from people right now, Margo.
People are feeling powerless.
Just as we thought we could take a breath from COVID, here comes this massive conflict in Ukraine. What I’m hearing from people is a sense of fatigue. They are tired from what is happening in the world and sad about what the people in Ukraine are experiencing. Or they know people here in the US who are Ukrainian or Russian and they are struggling to make sense of it.
I’m hearing from people that they are feeling a sense of powerlessness for themselves and the world. Will things ever be calm or “normal” again?
We need to keep coming back to the moment that is right in front of us.
Some folks may think I sound like a broken record. However, borrowing from the field of media relations, the adage is “if it’s right the first time, it’s right the tenth time.” So I say it again: Focus on what is happening in the moment, right in front of you. This is a good, and in reality, the only place to start. What is happening right now? And then what is happening next? And then next after that?
When we skip the immediate steps in the present it’s too easy to spiral into imagination and conjecture, and that’s where we can feel overwhelmed.
There’s power in the step by step.
We can’t stop the war in Ukraine, but we can make some food for our family. We can manage things happening in our homes, in our day-to-day lives. You are not powerless there.
This isn’t about only thinking of ourselves and forgoing compassion or helping others. It’s about how to get back into a place where you can make something happen. Finding your own power, by focusing on this moment and the next, strengthens you for helping others.
What’s the next thing you can do in your life, the next think you have time for? Maybe it’s a few hours a week, maybe it’s an hour a week, maybe it’s an hour in the month. Whatever you have is what you have.
Get grounded to regain your power.
Where can you donate a little bit of time or money so you can get up and out of that feeling of powerlessness? Is it something in your community? Is it sending money to a relief organization that you trust, and you think is going to use the money well? Those are some things that you can ask yourself.
If you’re not sure what to do, you can look online. You can find what’s happening in your community. For example, our main office is in Park Ridge, so I could search “Ukrainian Relief Park Ridge, IL” and see what pops up. I would want to know what’s happening in my community, because chances are that’s where I’ll have the greatest impact.
Draw from the connections you already have in your life: School, religious institution, work, family, neighbors—what are others doing that you can be a part of? That will build connection along with taking action.
Action in the present is power.
When we get stuck in feeling hopeless, helpless, or powerless, that’s when people start to feel anxious. That’s when people get depressed. Start with the things you can control in this moment, and the next moment, and the next moment. Once you are grounded and have reclaimed a sense of your personal power, then you can think about getting involved in a way that works for you.