As yet another mass shooting hits the headlines (and yet again, in America) it is understandable that many people believe this world is a cruel, nasty, unfair place.
Whilst I agree that it has cruelty, nastiness and unfairness in bucket-loads and is messed up to an insane degree……….the world is NOT a bad place.
There, I said it!
If you are reading this and disagree, then let me assure you that;
A) You are so wrong!
B) I have seen the world from your viewpoint too!
As a formerly anxious and as a result, extremely negative individual, I also saw the world through grey tinted specs. This past week has shown me both sides of the fence but these days, I will always sit on the positive side because frankly, if you don’t have optimism, you are FUCKED.
Sorry to put it so plainly but where does pessimism get anyone in life? There’s literally no upside to that kind of thinking. But that doesn’t mean I don’t understand it.
Our view of the world is often tainted by what is fed into our subconscious mind every day. If that consists of mainstream media (a constant barrage of war, crime and negativity) then that’s exactly what our world view is going to represent.
If all you watch all day is miserable, drama-soaked soap operas or violent movies or argumentative political talk shows, that is all going into your subconscious – and once that beast gets fed, you’ve got an almost impossible task to get it out!
I should know because basically, that’s how you recover from anxiety; by replacing the negative beliefs that are in your subconscious mind.
I used to watch a lot of politics and news channels.
In fact, I was so obsessed with current affairs that I would start every single morning by switching on the news. If something major had happened, I would follow it as much as possible all day via social media. I would then watch politics shows in the evening most nights.
I did this for a few years, not realising the effect it was having on me. Basically, I was waking up and feeding my mind with death, despair, murder, war, doom, gloom and frustration.
A great way to start any day!
Depending on how bad the news was, I could then be carrying around anger, sorrow and other negative emotions, often all day long.
Yep, I’m a sensitive wee snowflake!
Then no doubt, I’d be pissed off by something the Conservatives had done or The Republicans – and I don’t even live in America!
Politics tends to bring the very worst out in people.
To me, it became like my very own soap opera. I would actually look forward to watching the debate unfold, it was even exciting sometimes, listening to the scandals and hearing two sides battling. I’m ashamed to say that even the news became entertainment.
I remember when the Paris bombings happened. I watched the entire day unfold live on the BBC. It was literally all I did all daytime.
I was sat there glued to the siege, with a cup of tea and a cheese sandwich, waiting for some action whilst a bunch of people were being held hostage in a shop.
That’s when I knew it had to stop.
It just felt so WRONG. Never mind what it was doing to me mentally. We don’t even realise how easily we become programmed and desensitised. It definitely made me think the world was a bad place.
Of course it would – what else was being funnelled into my brain to counteract this torrent of negativity? I was even more miserable when I wasn’t being “entertained” because my life was full of anxiety.
This all comes down to awareness.
Something I talk about a lot as being the key to overcoming anxiety or any rut that you might be stuck in. Having the awareness that what you perceive about life is based purely on what you in effect “download” each day.
If you spend all day watching Fox News and nothing else to balance it out, then you are going to end up thinking the world is a dangerous, fearful place. If you spend your time around negative people, you will become negative too. It’s only natural. One of my favourite quotes is:
“You are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with.”
I’d go further and say it’s not just the people, it’s the information you are tuned into. At the same time though, you still have a choice to rationalise what you are seeing. I can watch news channels all day but because I understand the bigger picture, I will no longer allow myself to be dragged down by them.
I understand that what I’m watching is a tiny fraction of what is actually going on in the world.
I understand that millions of people do live a wonderful life.
I understand that unreported kind deeds happen every second of every day.
I understand that the vast majority of people are good people, who are just trying to figure out life and driven by love.
As for the negative people in this world?
I don’t let them into my life.
I don’t waste my time with them.
I don’t waste my time being outraged by keyboard warriors on website comment pages.
I don’t give airtime to trolls on social media.
I filter out all and any negativity that comes into my life.
That doesn’t mean I’m ignorant of the truth. I keep my ear to the ground, politically. But I don’t let it consume me any more. The world isn’t a bad place. Especially if you are fortunate to have been born in a free, democratic society.
For those of us who have this privilege I can tell you that it has never been a better time to be alive in all recorded human history.
There have always been terrorists. Younger people might not remember that in the UK, there were IRA terrorists only a couple of decades ago, setting off bombs.
Mass shootings have been happening in the USA for a long time now – that is terrorism, no matter what the race or religion involved.
The Basque separatist group ETA have been terrorising Spain for decades.
Yet despite all this, we are still living in relatively peaceful times. There hasn’t been a world war for close to a century. Before that, nations were constantly at war right across the planet for hundreds of years and back before the nation-state, tribal warfare was part of life.
The Dark Ages of Europe were basically centuries of constantly warring tribes. Empires (such as British and Roman) ruled tyrannically across large sections of the globe, yet somehow they have become romanticized from what they actually were; terrorism on a mass scale.
So let’s not go overboard.
We don’t live in terrible times. We live in the best time there has ever been to bring a child into the world. Even I would consider doing so!
By choosing to view the world in a negative light, we fall into the trap that these terrorists set for us. They want us to feel unsafe. The truth is, we have never been 100% “safe”, not unless you are part of an ultra privileged wealthy class.
But we can’t control external factors, we can only control ourselves and our own perceptions of the world. The more we learn to view it as flawed but still beautiful and full of opportunity, the more that will reflect in our day-to-day lives.