How to Remain Calm in Times of Protest and Chaos
By Dr. Robert Leichtman
Master these Key Points to Remain Calm
The most important steps we must take to preserve our sanity and peace of mind in times of great personal and social unrest are these:
- Take firm control of your focus of attention and keep it directed to the people, situations, and events where you have some real influence. Let the rest go. Do not get lost in the weeds of other people’s problems, ravings, and hysteria. Avoid becoming a news junkie obsessed with the details of the latest horrible events.
- Take firm control of your general mood and mindset. Except for a tiny number of truly good friends who have demonstrated their sincere love and understanding of you and your situation, do not allow any expert, group, or mob to tell you how you should feel or what to do. If they provide good advice, consider it, but don’t accept it unless you determine it is reasonable. Above all else, do not allow various noisy groups to force you to confess your bigotry and shame. Consider that they may be the ones who are the arrogant bigots. Think for yourself and decide what is correct. In the meantime, neither resent or fear them (as this would connect you to the energies of their attitudes and beliefs), but rather, ignore them until you find truth and value in their ideas.
- Do not allow anyone to judge you on the basis of your membership in some group or tribe. Various mobs make their way and fortune by condemning this or that group and seeking to intimidate you on that basis. We are our own creation and heir to our spiritual treasures, whether or not we have activated them effectively. We are also heir to our own mistakes, but these we can learn from and can repair to some degree. Yet, we are still our own person. It could be that everyone else that looks like us really is a terrible person, but we need to know we are different, because we can think for ourself, define who we are, and control our behavior. We need no advice from ignorant fanatics, especially when they are shouting in our face.
- Stay mindful about your strengths and intelligent activities for the day. Whatever long term plans and expectations you have, stay in today’s zone of time and activities where you can contribute to longer term achievements. Think in terms that any successful endeavor can be achieved only one day at a time—this day! This is the mental space where you have order and control. If you stay focused on this pragmatic basis, it will provide the best defense against the forces of chaos and anarchy in the world outside of you.
- Do not overdo humility or guilt. By all means, keep on good terms with your conscience, but keep in mind there is no virtue in suffering or guilt (unlike what some in religion seem to imply). Virtue lies entirely in overcoming suffering and in being able to learn from our alleged mistakes and flaws and apply this knowledge in improving our behavior as it is possible.
- Remember always that in the secrecy of your silent thoughts you have the right and duty to develop the most optimistic and confident expectations and mood for your day and what you will be doing. Start the day with the firm conviction that we have the power to make it a good day for ourself. Even if we fail to gain the respect of others, we can still be a silent model and example of courage, steadfastness, and confidence. We can be a person who accepts both the strengths and limitations of our life and still be proud to live the life we have. If anyone disapproves, we will not care!
Complete Details About Being Calm In Times of Protest and Chaos
Today’s world is full of distractions that too often pull us away from our priorities and our common sense. The social and commercial media seem always ready to alert us to where the sky is falling, the latest scandal, and the most outrageous injustice. Those who sound the alarm about these messages vigorously demand our attention and seem determined to keep us thoroughly agitated.
It is clear that mature people need to learn how to protect themselves from these sources of distraction and distress. We need to be able to accomplish this without abandoning our humanitarian values and concerns. Becoming an indifferent, heartless robot is neither necessary or desirable for achieving the self-control we need.
Maintaining our clarity of thought, purpose, and values is a special problem for those who are committed to a life of honorable values and humanitarian service. Eventually we will be forced to deal with moral dilemmas in which we encounter aggressive individuals and groups who expect us to provide for them whatever they demand. Will our assistance be helpful to them or only enable their bad habits? Shall we give in to intimidation just to keep the peace?
The ability to lock out the chaotic emotions, demands, angry accusations, and just plain exploitation is essential in today’s world.
Where Do We Begin?
A certain elderly celebrity who manages to continue to be active and creative well into his late eighties was asked the secret of his youthful vigor. His reply was: “I don’t let the old man in”, meaning he did not let the collective gestalt (body of thoughts and beliefs) of being weak, feeble, and limited by age-related problems to enter into his state of mind or attitudes.
This is the type of tough mindset that is needed to resist the collective fear, chaos, confusion, and hostility in mass consciousness—otherwise referred to here as “the mob”. As intelligent people, we must acknowledge the presence of this frenzied psychological atmosphere. Denying or ignoring it only allows its tendrils to sneak in the side door and back door of our subconscious where it stirs up free-floating anxiety, discouragement, and irritability—not a helpful result.
Those who expect the genuine tranquility they experience in moments of prayer and meditation to keep them calm in their daily activities may be surprised how poorly this works in real life situations. There still is a need to cultivate the convictions, sense of identity and purpose, plus the detachment which can protect us from outer distractions and chaos.
Sometimes spirit-minded people presume all they need is a commitment to the higher life. They assume this will guarantee them support and protection. They forget that sometimes even spiritual types need a protective glove to pick up hot skillets and pans while cooking. In a similar way, we need a tough, pragmatic personality with firm beliefs and convictions to work safely in the midst of hostile and chaotic times. Thus, we need a protective layer of beliefs, skills, habits, and qualities that resists distractions and intimidation.
What About Our Commitment To “Love Everyone And Be One With Spirit?”
These are noble aspirations for all good people. However, this can be done in an intelligent manner that does not leave us spaced out and disconnected from the physical world. We need an “isolated unity” in which we have a strong, conscious awareness of the divine presence and plan as it applies to our specific line of service. This means we recognize and seek to honor our higher purpose and priorities in how we plan and proceed to help the people and situations where we have genuine influence and contact. By concentrating our service in this manner, we are directing our energies efficiently and effectively.
Remember we also serve our spirit and contribute to world peace by being a calm, kind, responsible adult in whatever role we play in daily activities. Being an ally to those who focus largely on their grievances is something that requires careful reflection on the incompatibility of these pursuits.
Adjust To Keeping Chaos Out of Our Thinking and Emotions
1. Avoid most of news on TV and radio as well as discussions with others about the hot controversies of the day and other conflicts. Our attention to these topics and our assorted fears, anger, disgust or remorse about them will magnetically draw to us the toxic energies of these issues and the clashes about them.
If we accidentally become involved in discussions of them, tune out. If we are asked to comment on them, sidestep the matter with some excuses such as I am tired of talking and thinking about it, or, it upsets me to discuss it, so let’s talk of something else. As a last resort, indicate you have nothing to add to what has already be said. And then be very firm that you find the discussion upsetting, and can we please not talk about it. Do not be bullied into discussions about who is a racist, anti-racist or just a plain deplorable person.
It would be appropriate to regard the many topics that currently are driving the country crazy as “tar babies”. I refer to all the issues about protests, riots, insane behavior, hostility, psychopathic politicians, and those who demand instant justice. Wherever and whenever you touch your thoughts and concerns to them will result in becoming contaminated by the energies of these conflicts. Don’t Touch These Topics With Your Thought-Fingers.
For further details about the how of this happens, see my books, Psychic Self-Destruction and Psychic Vandalism.
2. Keep you focus of attention on matters that are important to you and where you have some control or influence. Reserve the bulk of your concerns for your personal business and practical activities. Limit speculation very carefully to topics where you have significant influence. It is imperative to cease to allow national and cultural matters to take up any significant part of your time, unless your daily work intersects with some aspect of these. Again, limit your area of concern to topics where you have genuine influence or control. Translation: if no one in control gives a damn about your opinion of external matters, this is a sign to forget about it.
3. Learn to be more detached and impersonal about the pain, suffering, and distress of yourself and others. Beware that your genuine sympathy for others will open an energy channel to and from them. This is the equivalent of getting into a tub of someone else’s dirty bathwater. You are inadvertently volunteering to take on their vast resentments, fear, jealousies, and anguish. Sharing their pain and feeling sorry for them may seem saintly and helpful, but it has all the value of rolling in their vomit when they are sick. None! But it can increase your distress.
This does not mean you stop caring for others or become a self-absorbed and mindless robot. It just means you need to offer your care without the intense sentiment in which you try to “feel their pain” as a way of helping them. Just as we would not smash our finger to help a friend who comes to us with a smashed finger, we should avoid the tendency to get too close and maudlin about sick or disturbed people. And in case it is not obvious, realize you can’t be much support for others if you become as upset as they are. If we truly want to help others, we need to stay calm, resourceful, and attuned to our healthy qualities, mental clarity, and proactive mindset.
4. Resist group think and group identity. It should be obvious that we are unique and are not personally responsible for the corruption and chaos in the world. Just as we are not liable for any crimes of our parents or siblings, so also, we are not guilty of the alleged crimes of others who look like us. We are who we are as an individual, and our contribution to the welfare of society is to be a good person in the roles of a husband, wife, parent, employer, servant, boss, merchant, shop-keeper, teacher, social worker, or whatever.
5. Build up the strengths and protection of a positive mindset. This is especially important for those who tend to obsess on what is wrong or missing in their life. The imbalance of attention can cause us to ignore or take for granted the positive elements in our life—even as we are horrified by the big, bad, awful situations that seem to stare at us.
Of course, the perpetual pessimist will instantly declare that their whole life truly is a disaster area in almost every department of their life. Good things happen to them, of course, but you will never hear it from their lips. Likewise, the person with lots of enemies usually has some good friends who truly care for them. The sick individuals almost always have many good parts of their bodies that are working very well. A person who is having deep trouble with their career usually can admit that their actual skills and abilities are in good working condition, and thus, their ability to earn a good income is quite intact. The person whose marriage is weak or gone is probably still attractive and desirable to a few other people.
The point is: there are aspects of life for which we can be both grateful and hopeful. These represent the areas where the light of life and joy can come to us. If we make it a habit to be mindful of these parts of our life that still work and still provide us with some benefits, then we can be nurtured by them.
But first, we have to consciously recognize these aspects of our life that are active and provide positive feedback to us. We need to feel gratitude for them—not just pass them off as how life is supposed to be and then return to complaining how horrible everything is. In these simple ways we can build up a positive mindset and the confidence that will sustain us in times of trouble.
6. Strengthen links with your higher self. Building up our capacity to be supported and protected by Higher Power is essential. This can be found in the good side of religion, but it doesn’t depend on it. It does depend on an awareness that there are higher forces and benevolent intelligences that can support us in times of distress (forces that can guide, calm, empower, soothe, heal, inspire, etc.). These higher forces manifest directly in a time of need or through our experience with great art, music, literature, beauty, nature, and acts of humanitarian kindness. Take time to seek a communion with these forces and appreciate they remain with us all the time, but in the background, working to support our well-being in silent and invisible ways.
Think of this support as a secret resource that we have. It will respond in its own way and time, and sometimes not at all when you already have the wit and power to manage your own needs.
7. Practice mental housecleaning. Bathe your body of emotions and thoughts just as often you bathe your physical body. Just as our physical body picks up dirt during the day, our emotions pick up all sorts of fear, disgust, anger, grief, humiliation, criticism, and guilt every day. Some of this comes from others we know, some from mass consciousness, and much from our own ruminations. We need to remove this contamination in so far as possible.
This calls for taking a figurative bath in our own good feelings, optimism, cheerfulness, contentment, and basic joy in living. These are the energies and convictions of our better self or ideal self—the part of us we occasional experience on a really good day. We can learn to recall these memories, energize them in moments of meditation and prayer, and be mindful of this mindset for several minutes. This can be very refreshing, especially if you consider it as comparable to taking a shower in the bright light of your own spirit.
8. Learn to use short prayers or invocations during the day to chase away the bad vibes and restore peace, goodwill, and quiet joy in our self. Short prayers include bits of or the whole 23rd Psalm, parts or all of the Lord’s Prayer, and so forth. Affirmations can be the new type framed as a provocative question, e.g., Why am I so calm and confident? (Give yourself time to allow the subconscious to respond.) Or: Why am I so cheerful? (Don’t snicker. It works.)
9. Learn to abort trains of thought that quickly lead to the misery pit of unpleasant memories. For example, when your thoughts are lured to return to some past occasion of defeat, humiliation, or despair, reverse it quickly with a counter-thought such as: At least I survived it! I may have some bruises, but I’m still kicking! And I am a lot smarter because of it. Or…At least these events prove what a tough person I am. Or think of some achievements that affirm your strength, resilience, and optimism.
If necessary, remind yourself you have visited the misery pit of awful memories often enough and are quite familiar with its streets, bars, and back alleys—all of them being most horrid. There is no justification to check out their nastiness once more!
Blast these tendencies with an adult reminder of your priorities. Tell yourself that you have better things to do than reflect on how miserable life has been or still is. Stop treating these memories and associations as some compelling but morbid treasure! Do the same with the current fascinations about the disasters in society.
While there may be some important issues that deserve your thoughtful attention, be determined to act as a problem-solver instead of a problem agonizer! Life is just too important to waste time on endless complaining no matter how much this makes us feel important and virtuous!
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