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Climate Crisis: Psychological Hurdles

Climate Crisis: Psychological Hurdles

Charlie Brodkin, used with permission

Charlie Brodkin, used with permission

Source: Charlie Brodkin. Used with Permission

“The most radical thing any of us can do at this time is to be fully present to what is happening in the world.” – Joanna Macy

To work together to demand that corporations and governments take climate action, it is necessary to be open to the possibility of a serious climate problem and to confront it and have a discussion about it. Many people find it difficult to even consider or talk about climate change. Why is this?

Some don’t believe the crisis is real, or at least downplay its importance (“There must be a simple technological way to fix this, right?”). This is not because there isn’t enough accurate and reliable information. Climate change facts are available. Available on the internetThey are frequently covered by many media outlets.

Many organizations and activists are dedicated to raising awareness about climate issues. On the other side, social media and internet are full disinformation and distortions. The media often highlights the immense amount of information. money being spentTo Negate or minimizeThis issue.

Others are blinded in their availability biasPeople who are not located near the coast or in flood-prone areas. People who do not experience the direct effects of climate shifts can use their personal experiences to make decisions about the possible consequences.

To some people, things still seem fairly normal…for now. Humans often find it difficult to accept dangers that are not in our immediate vicinity. As they are personally affected by climate-related fires or floods and the aftermath thereof, a growing number of people are finding it difficult to accept the reality of the situation. GriefSometimes, even post-traumatic stressSymptoms are often not treated properly.

Many others are aware that the climate crisis exists on a certain level. However, they find it difficult to consider the issue because it is overwhelming and frightening. They feel powerless to address it. It can be helpful to have others discuss the issue. However, it can seem like a faux pas for some to bring up the climate crisis in social settings. It feels too heavy, and too politically loaded.

You will often not get any response if you post about it on social networks, except perhaps from a small group of climate-oriented, like-minded people. It can feel like you are an alarmist or a downer if you bring it up. It’s all too terrifying or depressing to deal with, especially with other worrying global events.

Who doesn’t want to think about the possibility of global heating-induced water and food shortages, mass migrations of climate refugees across borders, violence over scarce resources, and major coastal towns being flooded?

We have endless options to distract ourselves via social media, entertainment, and consumer culture. You may find yourself unable to express your concerns about the climate crisis while you try to cope by yourself.

It is easy to avoid frightening and painful thoughts. Our brains are wired to avoid feeling or thinking about things that are too painful. Our automatic psychological Defense mechanismsKeep your thoughts and emotions at bay. These psychological defenses are necessary for daily functioning.

However, avoiding the issue entirely is self-sabotaging long-term. It can be helpful to recognize that these feelings are normal and that you are not the only one.

The New York TimesEspecially young women have shown remarkable promise and are being discussed with younger generations. BraveryDirectly confronting the climate crisis requires a willingness to You will bear the brunt for the psychological consequencesEngage in activism, given the chance The environmentTheir health will continue to decline over their lifetimes. They try their best to alert the international community and take political action.

To make it more appealing to the general public, the message should be accompanied by a way to help people deal with the information emotionally. There are many ways to help people face the problem. Anxiety-provoking realities. First, we must break the silence in our everyday lives. Although the media may report on climate rallies and other news, people tend to avoid discussing the topic with their family and friends every day.

To face the issue, it’s essential it becomes acceptable and normal to talk about, as the climate scientist Katherine Hayhoe has argued. People often need support to talk about difficult topics. They need to feel connected to their community and believe that they can do something meaningful and active about the crisis with others in their community.

A few group programs1They were created to help people face the reality, provide mutual support, grieve what is necessary, and turn that into action. These group programs include The Work that Reconnects.2Climate Awakening was created by Joanna Macy, an environmental activist and author.3Margaret Klein Salamon, a psychologist and climate activist, founded the Climate Psychology Alliance and online Climate Cafes.4

Sometimes people may need to be reminded of their rights. Individual therapy to cope with the “eco-anxiety,” grief, rage, and/or DepressionThis can be triggered by the environment.

These sources of support are great resources, but it’s not clear how many people will be able to access them. The minimum that most people require is a basic set for talking and thinking about difficult realities.

Two years and counting have passed since the outbreak of a pandemic in the world. COVID-19 variants, our capacities for facing the reality of frightening news and regulating our own emotions has been stretched to the max, and so we’re more in need of support in this area than ever.

We can’t face these huge issues like the climate crisis — or the pandemic — and work together to address them if we’re either in a state of complete denialAlternatively, in a panicked, overwhelmed state.

See Also
In this September 2017 photo, Mariko Shimmi helps carry items out of Ken Tani’s home in a neighborhood still flooded from Hurricane Harvey in Houston.

Our book contains the following: Missing each Other, we describe a state of mind and body that we call “relaxed awareness” that is useful for addressing these crises. Relaxed awareness is a type of mindfulness that’s particularly useful for facing threats or high stress while keeping your equanimity and some sense of calm.

This book contains exercises that help you develop mindful breathing and martial arts such as Tai Chi / Kung Fu. Relaxed awareness is a state in which the mind and body are calm enough to face the dangers of combat without panicking. It allows martial artists to be more effective in dealing with the threat.

As this martial arts context suggests, the way we use the word “relaxed” here does not imply complacency, indifference, or passivity. It is the ability to accept external dangers and strong inner emotions without withdrawing or flinching. This allows you to be more productive and frees up your energy to take action. That’s why we think that developing and regularly practicing this state of relaxed awareness can be helpful in addressing the climate crisis.

As we write in Missing Each Other, “…developing relaxed awareness is a way of navigating between the extremes of panic and blithe denial. Without panicking, we can face the realities of these problems, and cooperate to develop constructive ways of addressing them.”

Here’s one simple, relaxed awareness exercise you can try:

  • Sit upright. Imagine your head being gently suspended from the heavens, and your shoulders down below.
  • Relax your awareness and feel your belly expand gently with the inbreath. Your belly will then naturally contract with the outbreath.
  • Relax your facial muscles.
  • Do this for a few breaths or a few minutes when you’re alone, and ideally, practice a bit each day.

It is easy. It is difficult to apply the exercise amid existential anxiety that the climate crisis can cause. To increase the chances that you can access a state of relaxed awareness in the heat of the moment, try your best to practice the exercises a little bit each day, to develop a “muscle Memory.”

Combine different exercises with the opportunity to connect with others who are interested in the same things. It’s extremely difficult to face these overwhelming realities alone. You need to feel that you are part of a team that’s in it together, where people have your back. Finally, you can feel empowered and help channel your emotions by taking action in a group to protect the environment.

This post is a continuation from our last post. “Why Aren’t We Trying Harder to Save the World?”It contains more information about what is stopping political progress.

Visit the website to find a therapist. Psychology Today Therapy Directory.

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