I might be overstepping and making assumptions -but the way the world looks to me right now it seems that everyone is struggling with some level of anxiety. As Jews, our world has been upended. And while I am an American Jew who can't even begin to imagine or pretend to understand what the people in Israel are living through and the anxieties that might be plaguing them, I can speak to what my experience here is like and hope that together we can help each other through this.
I don't know about anyone else but I need to write this for me - I haven't had much time or energy to write in the last few months. Life gets busy. I think everyone is overall doing the best they can (even pre war) to live life and I am not always sure people need more advice, especially unsolicited. So back to the blog I came to try and organize my jumbled thoughts into something cohesive that I can use to make sense of a world which has lost all sense to me.
I have gone through so many stages of thought in the past few weeks it is hard to keep track. It started with flat out denial - while it was still holiday, I could somehow assume that people were exaggerating the "rumors" they heard. There had been a bad terrorist attack or something but war, no that wasn't possible.
As the reports were verified and the phones were turned back on, denial turned to shock. The enormity of what happened was slowly coming out and I don't think I could process the sheer numbers. It seemed like something out of a horror movie, not something that our people could be living through. Eventually, shock turned to grief and sadness. Hope creeps in and out. Stories of miracles trickled in. Unprecedented unity took center stage.
But then the world, as it tends to do, turned on its axis and some people started to change the narrative. Their voices, too loud, told the world a different story. And so began a second war - a cyber war.
Over three weeks have passed. The world has both stood still and kept moving.
Many are struggling to figure out how to be right now.
How do we continue our "normal" lives while our people are being attacked?
How do we feel any sense of purpose in what we usually find satisfaction with while we know there are wives holding down the forts at home while their husbands are at war?
How do we keep breathing when we know babies are being held hostage by monsters?
How do we function and not let the anxiety and the pain overwhelm us?
Tensions are running so high and everyone needs to find the balance that works for them to keep going during such trying times. I can share some thoughts of what has been working for me and hope that someone somewhere is able to get through this time a little easier.
- Step away from the (fill in the blank) ____________ (TV, News, Instagram, Internet)
- I'm assuming anyone reading this isn't an advisor to the Israeli war cabinet. For the rest of us average citizens - it won't help you to check the news multiple times a day. It will only intensify the feelings of what you are experiencing. Many people have warned against not watching the traumatic footage - but even the good stories and the constant updates get draining and overwhelming. Take breaks, make a time every day to check on what is happening - whether at a war room site where they consolidate the information or simply with a timer and a hard stop time. You will breathe easier and realize that you get just about the same amount of information this way without the added anxiety.
- Find something meaningful to you to do
- There are so many initiatives going on so no shortage of options here. Whether you want to make cards and packages for soldiers, send messages to wives who are home alone, spiritually "adopt a hostage" (this is my personal one which we have found meaningful), take on learning or praying or good deeds - the list goes on and on. There are more ways to fight than being on the battlefront - fighting in spirit goes a long way to calming and helping us feel less helpless.
- Talk to your kids - take their pulse on the subject
- A lot of our kids are hearing and seeing so much about this war that they don't know how to process or shut out. Make sure to keep the conversations open and be ok with them just wanting to turn it all off and be kids.
- Be Kind to Others ...and yourself
- Seems random to be on this list - but its hard to know how someone else is processing facts and events. They might sound harsh or judge-y - just give everyone a little more leeway. It might be a day they're not coping well. They probably don't realize how harsh they're coming across. Try to give everyone a tiny bit of extra kindness. You'll feel better and you'll likely avoid unnecessary arguments. And while we're on the topic - allow yourself a bad day here and there. We can't be positive all the time and that's ok. Just don't wallow too long.
- Don't engage
- If you have haters in your life - whether it be at work, online, or just generally people you meet - don't engage. They're likely just ignorant. Most don't want to know the truth - if they did they'd be able to see through the lies and realize what they're saying is ridiculous. Post whatever truths you want on your social media or wherever, but don't engage with the negative feedback loop.