First, the trigger: John Oliver informing me about an entire culture being systematically eradicated in China. Chinese Uighurs- have you heard about this? If not click on the link below. But be warned: it's pretty fucking brutal.
Here was my reaction-
Phase 1: Cynicism
Usually my first go-to. My brain can't fathom what I'm hearing and in an initial reflexive defense move goes straight into cynicism. These are the thoughts: Well, figures. Of course there's an entire culture that's being thrown into what are basically concentration camps. It's certainly not the first time this has happened and it won't be the last. Humans are such shit.
Phase 2: Anger
As Brené Brown points out, anger can be way more comfortable for a lot of us because it feels empowering. Self-righteous rage feels a shit ton better than what comes next. It sounds like this: Why isn't anyone doing anything about this? How the fuck is this happening now? We have to shut down Nike and all the other companies that are capitalizing on this bullshit NOW!
Phase 3: Despair
The most painful phase and one that can trigger a full-on "life is pointless" thought spiral if my brain gets away from me. It goes like this: What the fuck can I do? Is this just going to keep happening because no one gives a shit? How can I possibly help? I'm so fucking useless. If I were more active I'd find a way to do something but I'm such a lazy piece of shit I guess I'll sit here being appalled.
Phase 4: Blame/Shame
Even with all the work I do on self compassion it's still a trap I fall into. It feels like this: Nice work, Bev. Like life isn't hard enough right now without you putting yourself through this? Do you fucking enjoy feeling this way? Like it's going to help, really? You're so fucking stupid.
Phase 5: Self- Compassion
I'm incredibly grateful that this has become as automatic for me as it now is. It'd be nice if it came along faster in the process but I'm trying to appreciate that the pain I go through en route serves a purpose. The self talk goes: That was really hard to hear. Of course I feel powerless, anyone would. I'm not a bad person because I don't know what to do. I bet I'm not the only person who feels this way.
Phase 6: Action
Sometimes I think the internet is a horrifying cesspool of the absolute worst impulses of humanity. Other times I thank fucking god that I have the true magic of being able to literally google the phrase "How can I help the Uighurs?" and instantaneously gain access to people who have already done the leg work for me, like this Muslim woman who provides a whole list of links to petitions I can sign, organizations I can donate to, and other resources I use to do something:
I sign a couple of petitions, make a donation, feel a little bit better. My initial cynicism pops back up for a second and I think "Like that'll do anything" before my self-compassion rationalizes "something isn't nothing."