Sometimes the daily news hits you hard. Today is one of those days.
It started with the news from a close friend. She made the difficult decision to euthanize her special needs cat. Although she has other cats, this one occupied a large part of real estate on her heart; probably because he had cerebellar hypoplasia. He was also diagnosed with cancer last year. I felt so very badly for her. I feel as if I know the little fellow, even though I had not met him. She often shared all his lovable antics over his too-short lifetime.
The 6pm news covered senseless racist attacks in Chinatown, then moved on the deplorable state of senior care(less?) homes in Ontario. It was followed by a report about a racist diatribe in Central Park over an unleashed dog. At that point, I left the room.
I had a little cry to acknowledge how I was feeling. In a word: sad.
Sad, that the people who chose to make a new life in Canada are being targeted for something over which they are not responsible for creating. Sad, that our elders are being treated so disrespectfully. No one deserves to die like that. Sad, that the woman, who clearly was in the wrong in Central Park, let fear and perhaps a sense of entitlement (I'm guessing) override her ability to be rational. Then, to turn it into a double crime - gender-based and racist...
Lessons from Mom
My mother taught us not to be racist. She said that she didn't care if we dated someone who was green - the colour of their skin didn't matter. It was what was inside that counted.
She experienced terror when the Nazis invaded Holland during WWII. After immigrating to Canada, she worked hard to forgive, even though she said that the sound of a German accent would cause a ripple of fear to course through her body.
That's stress at work. The amygdala remembers strong emotions and, quick-as-a-wink, elicits the stress response. My mom was savvy enough to recognize that the situation in Canada was different. That her life was not under imminent threat. She went on to befriend some German-Canadians.
In essence, she was able to talk herself down. She practiced good emotional management in those circumstances. By recognizing that although the situation may be similar to one she previously experienced, it may not be the same threat level.
That is one of the many benefits of regularly addressing and undressing your stress. You are able to hit the pause button, quickly think things through and alter your perception. A change in perception can result in a different outcome - emotionally, mentally and physically.
Catharsis and a Shift in Perspective
As for me, along with a little cry, writing about this has helped. The world can be a messed up, frightening and violent place. But it is also beautiful and filled with love, hope and kindness. Fear can rule and ruin your life.
I prefer to shift my focus to the latter, as often as possible, which makes a 180 turn from my pre-Auntie Stress days. It's better for me and also for those with whom I come into contact.