When I first moved down to Adelaide, I got real sad in winter.
It was the constantly numb fingers. Plus having so much wet laundry in our living room we’d dine beside damp undies for 3 months.
I wonder now if it was the capital S.A.D. ‘Seasonal Affective Disorder’.
But I’m suss on the word ‘disorder’. It leads us to believe there’s some more ‘orderly’ way life should feel.
What if it’s our expectations that are out of order?
Clearly, being human is a messy business.
43.7% of people here in oz have experienced a mental disorder at some point in their lives.
Let’s face it. If anyone is out there just whistling through the whole ‘demic-that-shall-not-be-named, plus climate collapse, this ChatGPT situation, (I mean, Elon Musk in general), not to mention just trying to exist in late-stage capitalism, well you deserve a goddamn medal.
How much energy do you spend wishing you didn’t feel how you feel?
In Buddhist psychology this is called the second arrow. The first arrow is the hard thing or unpleasant feeling. The second arrow is all the ways we wish it wasn’t happening. The discomfort of wanting the thing or feeling to go away. It’s suffering, squared.
Russ Harris, Founder of Acceptance Commitment Therapy, talks about ‘The Happiness Trap’,
“To find happiness, we try to avoid or get rid of bad feelings, but the harder we try, the more bad feelings we create.”
So, without trying to pretend life will be only sunshine and rainbows (you’ve heard of ‘toxic positivity’ or ‘spiritual bypassing’) how do we proceed?
We learn to meet the things that happen, skillfully.
We learn to hold all the ways we feel, without desperately needing them to go away.
We learn how to take proper care of ourselves, and each other.
Taking proper care of yourself isn’t all face masks and salt baths.
Consumer self-care distracts us from making the harder choices that support our real wellbeing.
Like coming to class when you don’t feel like it because exercise unequivocally improves your mood. Like recognising your unhelpful behaviour patterns and (even though they feel like warm blankets) taking steps to change them. Or simply resisting the urge to check your phone for the 12th time tonight while you’re ‘winding down’ to sleep.
I know we’re all carrying so much, not to mention the weight of relentless self improvement.
So you will likely need help with this at some point.
That’s why professional therapies are such a big part of what we offer at H.K.
There’s a sense of safety in knowing someone is here to help.
Healthy humans can help others.
This is our first core value at Human.Kind. It means that social change occurs by creating more highly resourced humans who can reach out to lift others up.
It means true health doesn’t stop at strong abs or better boundaries. We see individual wellbeing as a stepping stone to collective resilience. If you can hold steady amidst the chaos, you become a lamp, a ladder, a liferaft for those who are struggling. Then more people become skillful at meeting the difficulties we face, together.
And that contribution, you will discover, is the deepest source of fulfilment.
Community working bee for landcare at Myponga.
Want to know the best bit? Helping others is also a way to take care of yourself.
Nerd break. When we practise generosity (prosocial behaviour), it activates the same areas in our brain as pleasure and reward. Psychologists call this ‘the helper’s high’. Neuroscientist Richard Davidson has shown that practising compassion helps us feel better about ourselves. Think: ‘selfish altruism’.
So, dear friends, you are not out of order. Sometimes just being here is a lot. And that’s ok.
Remember to notice the ways it’s also piercingly beautiful. How the colour blue conspires with the sky each morning and the honeyeaters bury their exquisite faces in flowers that will be gone by tomorrow.
All of it is incredibly fleeting. So keep going. We can take turns carrying those whose feet are sore. Because, like Ram Dass said,
” In the end, we are all just walking eachother home.”
Yours in kindness (and gloves),