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People hurt other people, and on purpose!
They even stoop so low as to hurt kids, and other vulnerable populations.
Non-human animals and the environment are at risk from the brutality of humans, too.
Some humans just don’t seem to care about anyone or anything outside of themselves, and it’s both enraging and heartbreaking to see the effects of their carelessness.
In the face of all the negative news out there, it can be easy to get burnt out, and find yourself hating humanity.
Sometimes, the news (or even personal experience with the worst of humanity) has me wishing for a giant meteor to collide with the planet and exterminate us all.
But that’s not fair to the animals, or the humans who work so hard to spread love and compassion amidst all the chaos.
We can’t just give in to hopelessness.
For sure, we’ve got to acknowledge our emotions, to face our disappointment with the world.
But then we’ve got to pick ourselves back up, and keep fighting for good.
Here are four steps to take when the worst of humanity is just too much to bear.
Step One: Unplug
Shut off the TV.
Toss the newspaper.
Turn off your phone (or chuck it across the room, if you feel so inclined – I’ve definitely done that a few times).
Stop looking at social media and news headlines.
It isn’t going to accomplish anything but give you more stress.
You Aren’t Missing Out
People suck. We already know this.
Unless you or your loved ones are in immediate danger and need to keep track of what’s going on for your own safety, there’s no reason to go doom scrolling.
Ignore the bullshit for as long as you need to.
But don’t ignore your feelings!
Step Two: Acknowledge the Pain
Cry it out.
Punch a pillow.
Write it all out in your journal.
Talk to a therapist, or let your loved ones know how you’re feeling. Chances are, they’re feeling it, too.
No, you don’t want to wallow in it.
But you’ve gotta at least give yourself time to feel through the pain, the fear, the anger.
You can worry about changing the world later.
For now, it’s important to feel what you feel, and not bottle it up.
Having Trouble Letting Yourself Cry?
If, like me, you’ve been fooled into believing that crying is a weakness (it’s not), you may need some extra encouragement to let those healing tears flow.
Try putting on a sad song or movie.
Or, stand in the shower and let the water wash your tears away.
If all else fails? Chop up an onion!
Let it all out, friend.
Step Three: Take Care of YOU
Now is the time for self care.
And I’m not talking about the fake, toxic positivity type of “self care”.
Everything is not okay. Pretending otherwise doesn’t do any of us any good.
What we need now is some genuine self care.
Letting your feelings out in step two was a good start.
Now, it’s time to really focus on your needs.
Take Care of Your Body
Are you hungry? Dehydrated?
Tired? In need of some fresh air?
Listen to what your body needs in the immediate future, and honor that.
Take a walk (out in nature, if possible).
Take a nap, or go to bed early.
Or, maybe it’s late morning and you’re still in bed. Do you need to get up? Go to the bathroom, take a shower, feed yourself?
Focus on your body’s needs. When those go ignored, bad news can feel even heavier.
Take Care of Your Spirit
Try meditating, if that’s your thing.
Lovingkindness meditations are a great way to keep your spirit strong and caring in spite of all the pain in the world.
If you can’t focus on sending lovingkindness to humans right now, try sending that feeling toward non-human animals, and nature in general.
Another thing you can do is pray, if you find meaning in that.
Listen to your favorite songs. Especially songs that inspire you, or focus on idealism and hope for a brighter future.
Sometimes, the most effective self care when faced with how much people suck is a healthy bit of escapism.
Take a bath, or cook yourself a nice meal.
Or, hell, why not go to an amusement park and get lost in the feeling of the wind in your face as you zoom away from the world’s worries on a rollercoaster!
Moving around is a great way to distract yourself from the pain caused by humanity.
On that note…
Channeling your emotions about the state of the world can really create some wonderful art.
Pour your heart out into song, or poetry.
Write fiction where characters face similar issues, and imagine how they can overcome it.
Draw. Paint. Scribble. Knit. Sew. Sculpt. Craft.
You don’t have to share your creations with anyone. They don’t even have to be “good”.
This is about expressing yourself in art, as an act of self care.
If you’re not feeling up to all that, do something less active.
Watch a lighthearted TV series or movie, and escape into a world where people are happier, kinder, and not so divided.
Or, watch a drama, to remind yourself that it could always be worse!
Whatever you watch, sometimes it’s nice just to take your mind off reality for a bit.
Sure, you don’t want to run to fiction or indulgence every time something bad happens.
Living in a fantasy isn’t a long-term solution to the world’s problems.
But taking a break from the harshness of reality and letting your mind rest for a bit can be a life-saving maneuver.
Step Four: Keep Going
You’ve unplugged, you’ve given yourself space to feel your feelings, and you’ve taken time to care for yourself.
Now, you’ve got to keep going.
Yes, people suck, but we can’t be overcome with desolation about that.
At some point, we’ve got to pick ourselves back up, and keep going.
Remember The Good
The dark side of humanity may be bringing you down, but the Earth is home to so much more than that!
Remember the millions of other species that can’t even grasp the idea of sadistically harming others.
Remember the beauty in nature – the lands, the oceans, the skies.
Try watching a movie or documentary about animals. Focus on ones that don’t involve humans harming them, like Homeward Bound.
Or, watch a documentary about the wonders of nature. (Or just look at some photos of beautiful natural sights.)
And, yes, remember that humans can be good, too.
Restore Your Faith in Humanity
As far as we know, humans are the only species capable of being intentionally, truly sadistic.
Non-human animals may harm each other as a result of their survival instincts, or simply because they don’t fully understand the effect their behavior might have on other living creatures.
Meanwhile, humans have evolved (if you can consider it an evolution) to be able to become bigoted, or downright sadistic without discrimination.
Humans have the ability to understand that rape, murder, and abuse are damaging to us. But some people just don’t seem to care. As long as it’s not happening to them, they don’t bat an eye. Or, worse, they find some sort of satisfaction in hurting others.
As we all know, some people suck!
But! This capacity to do harm also means that humans are one of the few species known to be capable of compassion, too.
When faced with the overwhelming pain of knowing that some of our fellow humans can be truly heartless, it’s absolutely vital to remind ourselves that there are people out there who do more good than bad.
Not All People Suck!
We’re all capable of being awful people. But not all of us choose to be awful.
Focus on that truth.
Find examples of people choosing to lean into compassion.
Watch videos of good things humans have done. (Y’know, the #FaithInHumanityRestored sorta stuff).
Remind yourself that there is still beauty in humanity. All is not lost.
Think of your closest friends and family. Of your mentors or role models. Think of yourself!
We’re not all doomed to depravity. Lean into that. Find power and encouragement in that.
Dream of a Better Future
If we surrender to hopelessness, we’ll definitely be doomed.
“Be soft. Do not let the world make you hard. Do not let pain make you hate. Do not let the bitterness steal your sweetness.
Take pride that even though the rest of the world may disagree, you still believe it to be a beautiful place.”
– Iain Thomas
The above quote, often misattributed to Kurt Vonnegut, reminds us to hold onto our idealism.
Think of it as a challenge. A dare. No matter how bad it gets, I will not give in to the darkness.
If we let ourselves be hardened by the world, who will be left to heal it?
Imagine a better future, where everyone’s needs are met.
A world where people take care of one another, and find joy in the joy of others.
Dream of a future where love and compassion triumph over hatred and selfishness.
Then, do what you can to honor that vision.
Be The Change
One of the best ways to combat the pain of knowing people suck, is to dive into social, environmental, and/or animal rights activism.
Humans may have let you down, but the Earth and its other inhabitants cannot.
And although you may be feeling angry at humanity as a whole, chances are you still have a soft spot for certain groups of people.
Maybe it was the mistreatment of those groups that got you feeling down, to begin with.
So, channel your anger and hurt into positive action.
No matter how terrible some people are, you can choose to do good. You can choose to help those who need it.
We can’t become so embittered by the world that we abandon it to its destruction.
Ideas for Creating Social Change:
- Volunteer with or donate to organizations that help a particular group of people (the elderly, children in foster care, queer/trans people, etc). Just be sure that the organizations actually benefit the community they’re supposed to care about. Autism Speaks, for example, is widely known by actually autistic people as a hate group, and The Salvation Army often discriminates against those in need of its services. Do your research and make sure you’re not actually about to help the dark side of humanity in your attempt to help those in need.
- Show generosity by paying for someone’s groceries, or for their bill at a restaurant or café. You can also help others by donating to someone who’s crowdfunding to meet their basic needs like rent or healthcare.
- Spread love and joy whenever you can. Hand out (genuine) compliments to people to brighten their day, send silly memes to your friends who could use a mood boost, or take time to remind people of how loved and important they are.
- Find (or create) community in local or online groups. These are great opportunities for people to support each other, and/or do good together (like, for example, a local meetup where members gather to clean up litter in your city once a week).
- Get political about it! If you’re dissatisfied with the way things are going, start a petition, attend a protest, call your representatives, show up at town hall meetings, or even run for office! Don’t leave the power in the hands of the corrupt.
Just Be Kind!
Don’t underestimate the value of just being as kind and compassionate as you can in your daily life.
When we choose to live by our values, others are inspired to do the same.
Lead by example. Show people there’s another way.
That’s how real change is created.
Ideas for Protecting the Environment:
- Recycle & Compost what you can. Evaluate your recycling situation and be more mindful of how much trash you create.
- Go shopping for eco-friendly products or try making your own from home!
- Clean up around your neighborhood. Take a walk with a trash picker and a bag and clean up the local park or streets.
- Plant trees, or tend to your garden, or a community garden.
- Sign petitions to protect the Earth.
- Volunteer with or donate to environmental groups (but again, just be sure to do your research and support the right organizations).
Ideas for Helping Animals:
- Sign petitions that will save animals (just be prepared to find out about a lot of animal cruelty while reading the petitions).
- Volunteer at a local animal shelter, or even adopt a pet and give them a loving home!
- Support (reputable) organizations that help animals by donating or volunteering.
- Reduce your consumption of animal products, or consider going vegetarian or vegan. Eliminating animal products isn’t an accessible option for everybody, but doing what we can to reduce the demand for animal products can in turn help the animals in those often inhumane industries.
People suck, sometimes. Like, a lot.
But you don’t. Your loved ones don’t.
And as long as we remember that, there is still hope.
Hold on to that, and do what you can to cultivate a more beautiful, loving world.
If you’re feeling down, it might be a good time to lie back and listen to some comforting music.
Capitalism can bring out some of the worst of humanity. Here’s how to cope with living in a capitalist society.
How do YOU cope with the harsh reality that people suck sometimes? Drop your ideas for self care in dealing with the worst of humanity in the comments below! ⬇️⬇️⬇️