Bart Vermeulen - Freedom Coaching
January 24, 2021
When we open a newspaper or social media, we may notice that news is being presented in an extremely polarizing way. Many articles are eager to help you define the “bad” people and encourage you to communicate frustrations in the comments section.
Notice how the “bad” people are always changing; dependant of newspaper you read, the article or the moment in time. A captivating story is created, and it will keep you hooked until the end. We get some kind of satisfaction in knowing how bad the bad people really are.
We are more than willing to join this witch hunt in the search for the “others”; the people who are the cause for our misery. This can be our politicians, our immigrants, the socialists, the liberals, the greens, the old generation, the young generation, the company owners, the unemployed, Greta Thunberg, Bill Gates…
As long as we are not willing to look at ourselves in the mirror, we are not serving any valuable cause. If we think that the problem is “out there”, we are just contributors to a polarized world. But the truth is simple and liberating: we can change the world by changing ourselves.
We don’t always need to choose a side or to be part of group with the same viewpoint. It’s a wise thing to say:
We live in world with so many variables. To think that we always need to have an opinion, is madness. Let’s accept that we cannot know everything and – even more – we don’t need to be mentally involved in everything that appears in the news. If we move from participating in the story, to being an observer of it, we often shift from feelings of frustration to freedom.
There is no “right” side. When you look at different stories from different people, mostly you can find some truth in all of them. It depends on which angle you are looking from. Don’t be so sure about your own believes, because maybe you are missing something. Look how your ideas have changed over the course of your life and now imagine how differently you will think in 10 years from now. Ideas are not a fixed. While we are growing up, they are constantly maturing.
The only thing that I’m convinced about, is that I don’t know anything. Time and time again, I come to the realisation that there is much more at play than I can possibly understand. So having a strong opinion is pointless, it can always change.
Over the years, my ideas have shifted to all sides. Now I can find a grain of truth in every side: socialism vs liberalism, localism vs globalism, open borders vs closed borders, regulation vs deregulation… I came to understand that most stories are in fact, merely perspectives. They are only partially true, not integrating the whole.
If people are not ready for “your truth”, don’t try to force it upon them. It’s not our job to convince anybody. We don’t need to invest our energy and time in defending our opinion. We will only create frustration and suffering for ourselves and for the people that we try to convert. We would feel angry, misunderstood or lonely – creating a distance between us and them. Instead of trying to defend the “right” story, we should invest our time in building bridges among us.
Even when you don’t agree, respect what our fellow human has to say. How do you feel when someone doesn’t respect your point of view? It doesn’t help you to change your mind, but only creates quarrel.
Can you really listen? Can you let someone talk without interruption and without preconceived judgement? Do you feel uneasy when you hear something you don’t agree with? Why is that?
Doubt your own opinion. Are you sure you are right? Maybe you are the person who is missing something important? Remember, there is no “right side”. Everything can be seen from different perspectives. Every perspective can hold some form of “truth”.
Look at men and women with compassion. Maybe they didn’t have the same insight yet? Maybe they are still missing some important pieces of the puzzle? Maybe they are confused, and they react from fear or anger?
Personally, I don’t watch the news or read newspapers. I try to avoid it as much as possible. For example, when I’m in my car and I hear the news, I turn off the radio. I believe the news we read or hear is heavily filtered. Positive events and important scientific discoveries are mostly left out. By contrast, conflicts and trivial news do get a lot of attention. On top of that, everything is being communicated in a way that is far from neutral. Nowadays, an article is not an objective description of events, but a highly subjective and polarizing click bite story.
Being bombarded with negative news is highly destructive for our psyche. There is a direct correlation between your health and your thoughts. That’s why I recommend you to be careful on allowing this non-stop gloomy broadcast.
One of the worst kinds of negative news are the ones that spread fear. For example, let’s look to a recent COVID-19 article: “Is British variant of coronavirus even more contagious and deadly?” or “Are we on the verge of a political crisis?”. Such reports spread panic and despair among us. It is scientifically proven that fear damages our body. So why would we allow this in our lives?
We can question ourselves why do we believe that it’s so important to be up to date? Is that really so? Does it help us in some way? Does it help others? In my opinion we can answer both questions with “no”. So why are we so mentally engaged in everything that is happening around us?
How can we protect ourselves from this negative overload? I recommend the following:
We often find ourselves angry at a particular perpetrator or a group. Since it doesn’t help us, how can we shift our negative emotions?
The key for this is empathy. If you can see through the facade, that behind every “bad” person, is someone lost, who is suffering greatly – then you realise that there are no “evil” individuals, only confused ones. If you can see that people are raised in circumstances with all the odds against them, then you can shift your emotions from anger to compassion.
The point worth remembering is that anger and fear are lower emotions, that cause suffering. In the other hand love, joy and peace are higher emotions, that lead to happiness. Notice how your feelings are constantly changing your perception of the world. If you are looking through coloured lens, you see everything from that perspective. If you are sad, everything looks dark.
Become aware on how your body responds to anger, shame or guilt. Notice how your breath speeds up, heart rate increases, muscles get tense, how you get a headache or a twitch in your eye. Don’t spend time and energy with negative thoughts. It will improve your life.