We are very happy to offer a guest post from Dr. Carolyn Baker, who will be joining us on Tuesday, September 11th at 7pm as a guest speaker for our free webinar series. Reserve your spot now at: https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/871451129
Carolyn is the author of several books, including “Navigating The Coming Chaos: A Handbook For Inner Transition,” and “Sacred Demise: Walking The Spiritual Path of Industrial Civilization’s Collapse.” In today’s first part of her guest post, she talks about the traumatic effects of our world in crisis. Check back tomorrow for part two, and visit her website at www.carolynbaker.net for more great writing. As always, please comment and share.
Emotional Resilience In Traumatic Times,
By Carolyn Baker
Whether it’s explicitly stated or not, Americans and billions of other individuals throughout the world are terrified about their economic future. By that I do not mean that they feel mild anxiety about embellishing their stock portfolios, but rather, are feeling frightened about how they are going to feed their families, where they will live after losing their house in foreclosure, where they might find employment in a world where having a full-time job is becoming increasingly rare, how they will access healthcare without insurance or the money to pay out of pocket, or how they will make ends meet in forced or voluntary retirement.
Obviously, these anxieties are relevant to the world’s middle classes and not to teeming masses of human beings living on two dollars per day or less. Ironically, however, it is frequently the case that for all the suffering of abjectly impoverished human beings, they have seldom known any other standard of living and have learned how to survive on virtually nothing. They hear no reports of nuclear meltdowns, or stock market losses, and even if they did, such news would seem insignificant in the face of needing to secure food or water for today—a type of existence that contains its own traumas and yields dramatically short lifespans. Yet, in 2012 we now know that millions of Americans are living on $2 a day or less.
Having inhabited a middle class existence, one can only comfort oneself for so long by reflecting on the plight of the destitute in places removed from oneself. One’s immediate reality is an anomalous deprivation, a stark loss of the familiar, and the looming reality that things will probably not get better, but only worse, and that these losses are unpredictably punctuated with frightening events such as extreme weather, natural disasters, nuclear meltdowns, or the terrifying consequences of rotting infrastructure such as pipeline explosions or collapsing bridges.
These realities take their toll on the body—sleepless nights, a weakened immune system, moodiness, anger, depression, despair, and often, suicidal thinking. Whether the trauma is dramatic and frequent such as a 9.0 earthquake in Japan followed by high intensity aftershocks, or whether it slowly grinds on amid a disquieting sense of the permanent loss of so much that one held dear, the landscapes of countless lives are forever painfully altered, emotionally littered with charred shells of once exuberant and robust routines.
Yes, YOU Have Been Traumatized
But, you may argue, I haven’t been traumatized. My life is amazingly normal. I’m weathering the collapse of industrial civilization reasonably well and feel profoundly grateful.
Indeed I celebrate your good fortune, but I must add that no inhabitant of industrial civilization is without trauma because that paradigm is by definition, traumatizing.
It is only when you understand the extent to which you have been traumatized outside of your awareness that you can effectively prepare for and, yes, welcome the demise of empire and its ghastly assaults on your soul and the earth community.
In the face of extreme weather events and earth changes, skyrocketing food and energy prices, increasingly dramatic expressions of civil unrest globally, massive unemployment, global economic evisceration of the middle classes, and the proliferation of toxins worldwide—whether from fracking in Pennsylvania or leaking reactors in Japan, we are all in varying states of emotional breakdown and breakthrough. The sands are shifting under the feet of all human beings on this planet. Nothing is as it seems. “Things fall apart,” said William Butler Yeats, “the center cannot hold.”
Call it whatever you like—collapse, Transition, Great Turning. Put a happy face on it or a terrified one, but regardless of how you spin it, regardless of how much you want to feel good about it—and there is much to feel good about – the changes are dizzying, sometimes delightful, sometimes devastating. Yes, it’s an exciting time to be alive, and it’s an excruciating time to be alive. Sometimes one feels schizophrenic, sometimes bipolar. But all of that, yes all of that, is traumatizing to the human nervous system, and if we don’t recognize that, we’re probably hiding out in the “Hurt Locker” of empire.
So how do we not hide out? How do we face our trauma, begin healing it, and protect ourselves as much as humanly possible from further wounding, particularly as life becomes even more traumatic?
Please head back our way tomorrow for Part Two, “Developing Emotional Resilience.”