Confused, bewildered, disoriented, dumfounded, afraid, shocked, angry, off balance, emotionally hungover…
These are just a few descriptions of my emotional gamut on Wednesday, January 6 as the United States Capitol was entered by a mob. I was horrified, but I could not look away from what was happening. My feelings and thoughts were caused body to activated fight or flight responses. By the time I arrived home from work a few hours later, I was emotionally wrung out from the drama in Washington D.C.
Deep breathing, walking the dog and making dinner while listening to music calmed my parasympathetic nervous system to stop adrenaline and cortisol dump into my body caused by the fight or flight response. I was then able to step into observer mode.
The observer stands away from the fray to see clearly and gain perspective. The observer is just watching the action so there is no need for verbal or mental commentary. As the observer is not involved there is no need for emotion, fear or judgement. Though it may sound corny, I picture myself draped in a cool cloak while standing on top of a high hill looking down on a situation. I am close enough to see clearly the situation, yet far enough away that I am not involved nor am I in any danger. The distance gives clarity.
In stressful times, self-care is an absolute necessity to clear the mind and to calm the parasympathetic nervous system. Humans are no meant to function very long in fight our flight. To stay calm and balanced, I am leaning hard on morning meditation, gentle yoga, listening to uplifting music and reading actual books. I am avoiding social media. I do scan the headlines through the e-newsletters from my newspaper subscriptions, but I am not seeking out opinion or forecasting articles. The observer is aware yet detached.
The world is shifting and changing. Remembering observer mode and keeping myself centered will help me navigate these changes. It is from the observer mindset that I will know what actions I need to take and when I need to take them. My action will come from calm understanding rather than from a place of fear with fight or flight responses coursing through my body.
This is not to say that I will not encounter other situations that send me into an emotional and judgmental spiral. It happens, but I can return to calm. The reality is, no matter how hard I try, I cannot live in observer mode. But I can return. I can begin again.