Friday, August 18, 2017

Mind Split

Written by  Janan Broadbent, Ph.D.

As I start to write, my mind goes back and forth between the unsettling atmosphere of right now and the comfort that presence of a partner and family brings. We are all dealing with the fallout from the travel ban, the transgender ban, climate denials, white supremacist meetings, and need I say more? It is the undoing of progress in all these areas that create yes, anxiety and depressive thoughts in most of us. Add to that the global reputation of the US, and it is hard not to want to dig a hole and crawl in it.

So it is especially in these kinds of turmoil that we need connections, emotional bonds, and support from those and toward those we feel close to. Human beings look for comfort not only in emotional terms, but also in physical contact. Holding one’s hand, giving a pat on the back, or a warm hug reinforce the sense that we are together and that there is strength in that.

It is also important to remember that nothing in life is permanent. Rain will stop. Night will end and dawn will bring light. I think the Chinese believe that all relationships end, one way or another. So recognizing this temporariness can help in even the hardest of times. We know that the pendulum will swing back and better times will emerge, if we persevere and stand with one another.

Meanwhile, it is so easy to worry and to expend energy that way. But Charlie Brown of the Peanuts cartoon fame reminds us: “Worrying won’t stop the bad stuff from happening. It just stops you from enjoying the good.” Thanks, Charles Schultz… With that in mind, we have to be mindful of other people’s negativity. I read a neighborhood post about a mugging – no minor issue and something to be aware of. But it was followed by fear-mongering, telling people to stay in their houses, to be armed, and to be afraid, to be very afraid. This was quite out of proportion to the crime that was committed, It is so important to have a realistic perception of what occurred, and not to let pessimism and negativity to overwhelm us. It is also crucial to be able to compartmentalize at times and give our brains a break. I find it encouraging that I come across articles and even puff pieces that advocate disconnecting from social media periodically.

We need to remember and to remind others that each little step counts, that Rome was not built in a day, and we have to savor even the tiniest bits of progress that gets us closer to the goal. Reaching to others, supporting whatever you can do to march toward better times, whether physically or in other ways, will help all of us get there together. I have made numerous calls to members of Congress, and look! With the thousands beside myself, that had a huge effect on healthcare legislation.

So I encourage all of you to be positive, to support each other, to focus on your relationships, and not to lose faith that we can get to progress and better times again.

Carpe diem!

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