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  • Writer's pictureSumbella

Four ideas to lighten your heart when things seem bleak

Updated: Oct 3, 2021

This week, along with much of India and Palestine, I experienced the loss of a loved one.

And in navigating this, I found myself trying to make sense of and navigate the further loss and seemingly endless traumatic events taking place in these key places: India, Palestine, and of course, in the ongoing situation for the Uyghurs.

And so, on a deliberately quiet and poignant Eid day this year, my thoughts kept turning to think about how I could do something about any of this.

In the rest of this article I share some of the things I've been doing to 'cope'.

#1 Redirect negative feelings - into art, beauty or creativity

I know I am not alone when I say that distress, helplessness, guilt and negativity shadowed desire to have festive celebrations.

Many of us are witnessing atrocities happening in front of our faces, and on our screens on a seemingly minute by minute basis.

While negative feelings can drive change, they also carry immense power to hold one back and hesitate.

And I know that if I'm taking actions from a place of guilt, shame and sadness, I won't function so efficiently.

But I can serve better the community around me, my friends and my loved ones, if I am projecting feelings of goodness, worthiness and light(hearted)ness.

I almost allowed the negative feelings to stall me posting any kind of celebratory messages this Eid.

But I stuck to the plan, pushed on and created a doodle.

Amidst chaos, we still need light, beauty and thoughtfulness.

Perhaps, at such times, we need it more than ever. There are certain activities or hobbies (I call them cherry bakewells) that boost your mood.

They exist for joy and nothing more.

I would even argue that doing these precise activities when feeling overwhelmed with negativity is a reliable coping mechanism.

#2 Let your money speak

It might seem strange, but at such times, one practical way I've been responding to these crises this week is to look at my finances and check what I am currently a steward of.

Is there anywhere I can give, purchase or provide for families directly affected by attacks, illness and restrictions?

Finding ways to put some of the money that I have currently into current causes is one way I can take action.

Websites like Launchgood, and getting in touch directly with my friends and contacts who

hail from the places being affected has made this much easier to do.

#3 Learn

I have long since actively appreciated the cultural traditions rooting from India, Palestine, Israel, the Uyghurs, especially in terms of their traditional clothing and music.

Applying the same sense of inclusivity and appreciation, this week, I also strived to learn more about the events that have led in particular to the Palestine and Israel situation.

There are many voices that speak sense and educate, but of all the ones I heard this past week, these two provided me with more insight and clarity than most other videos and news reels circulating currently:

  1. Subhi Taha's videos (Palestinian)

  2. Abraham Gutman's article (Israeli)

#4 Simply: remember

The simplest practice of respecting people who have died, is to remember them.

In losing a loved one this week, I sense their absence acutely, and it hurts. But I know they wouldn't want me to be hurting.

I know they would want me to be remembering the very best of them, the good, fun times.

One of the sayings that circulated after the verses of the Quran were written reads along these lines - put in my own words:

If you can forbid or change something evil by your actions, then do so. If you cannot do that, forbid or change it by your speech. Failing that, forbid it in your heart.

This is so powerful, because your mind and your heart are at the core of your wellbeing.

Your heart is the mothership.

And both action and speech are fuelled by what is happening in your heart and mind.

Some might even argue the heart is where all thoughts start. The ironic thing about this quote and this idea is that if you can't do anything else except to remember, this alone often ends up generating action.

That is partly what happened when I began to write this post.

It began with thoughts and feelings: thinking of Palestinians, Indians, the Uyghurs. Thinking of the losses, the pain.

Thinking thoughts that ended up as words on this page you are reading.

So, if all else fails: let yourself think and remember. And go from there.

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