It’s a Self-Preservation Thing!

It's a self-preservation thingI used to be so passionate about the state of the world. So vocal about the injustices. I would get into heated debates about my theories. If in the wrong company I’d get shot down in conversation and told that certain things were just unfortunate coincidences.

I didn’t follow the 2000 US general election at all, but took an interest in states-side politics after reading Michael Moore’s Stupid White Men in 2002. It sparked something off in me. I was absolutely outraged to learn of the things that government (allegedly) did to get into the White House. People have gone out of their way to discredit Moore, but when you read up on everything he went through to get the book published, it adds even more weight to his words. In my humble opinion of course.

I loved and despaired of his film Fahrenheit 9/11 in equal measure. I watched The Zeitgeist and I believed.

People took to the streets of London and protested in their droves, but Iraq still got invaded. As did Afghanistan.

I used to be so sad about what was going on in the world. I would scope out the people I knew were aligned with my thinking and turn the conversation to politics after a few drinks. I’d scope out the people who weren’t and bring up my theories just to make them uncomfortable. How could they be so blind?

In stark contrast to four years previous, I followed the 2004 US election with great intent. I was utterly incredulous when he got re-elected. What kind of idiots were living in that country?

I had a similar feeling earlier this year when the Tories won the UK election.

I can’t even bring myself to write about the current US presidential candidate race. It’s depressing and scary and outright bonkers.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m still sad about these things. I don’t agonise over them any more though, I don’t let them keep me awake at night.

You see it’s not that I don’t care, or lack empathy, far from it.

I woke up one day and realised that I, like everyone else, have limited resources. Limited energy that is much better spent on my little family.

It may sound to some like I ‘bang on’ about my dysfunctional childhood and autistic daughter, but trust me, until you’ve lived it, you will never understand how difficult it is and has been.

How hard it was to make peace and put my past behind me.

How incredibly challenging our lives are made each and every day by autism.

When just keeping my head above water some days, and rising above what’s going on inside my own four walls can feel heroic, how on earth can I possibly take on the worlds troubles as well?

As the fabulous (and very handsome) Andrew Lincoln said in my all time favourite film…

“It’s a self-preservation thing!”

What to do instead then?

I’m not saying for a second that everyone should shut themselves off and live in a bubble, but I do think a media detox (especially of the social variety) helps to boost our happiness when we’re feeling overwhelmed by what’s going on in the world. It’s too easy to hone in on the information we want to consume, which is often negative and does us no favours whatsoever.

I also think it’s great to pick a worthy cause or two to properly get behind, and do some good amongst the seeming never ending shit.

It might not be much, but it means a lot to me knowing that I’m able to use my blog to help raise awareness of issues (such as the Children’s Society #SeriouslyAwkward campaign); and bring comfort to other folk who are experiencing dark times (with posts such as this and this).

We don’t have excess cash to donate to charity, but I donate all our old clothes, toys and general bits and bobs. I only ever buy clothes second hand in charity shops; which not only provides funds for them, but is kind to the environment too.

I sign petitions, which often get to parliament and make a difference. Not all of them admittedly, but that doesn’t stop me from signing everything I feel something towards.

These are a few things I am able to do from the comfort of my own home. Good deeds are never completely altruistic, but they stem from good intentions, and I don’t think we should be ashamed to admit that we feel good for doing them. Anything that boosts overall happiness is a win in my book.

Do everything you can to enhance the happiness of your own world

I became a lot happier when I stopped wasting my energy getting upset about the thing I couldn’t control.

So I guess what I’m trying to say is, rather than feel rage and anger at the state of the world, look inward, and do something positive to enhance your own happiness instead.

Trust me, it makes all the difference!

14 thoughts on “It’s a Self-Preservation Thing!

  1. I couldn’t agree more with this Renee. Some days we can become so inward looking but it really doesn’t help anyone. I feel instantly better if I’m able to look outward and help someone else. Great post. x

  2. I got into massive trouble a couple of years back by making the comment that apathy was worse than evil, but I stand by what I said. I don’t for a second advocate apathy, but I don’t think letting Donald Trump get under my skin is going to be the best solution either… not quite sure what is overall, but doing what I do works for me for now xx

  3. He’s fab isn’t he! I found Sicko really eye opening too and feel the same about the NHS – we are so privileged to have it. He has a new film out soon called Where to Invade Next? xx

  4. I think Michael Moore is great too – I know he has made his enemies and people who would undermine him by saying he’s twisting things out of context but really, who could forget that interview with Charlton Heston in Bowling for Columbine?! I also found his film Sicko really opened my eyes about how tough life can be in the ‘the land of the free’ – not so free – and how lucky have we been (although not for much longer if Cameron has his way). I couldn’t agree more that doing the little bit we can manage is so much better than doing nothing and altruistic or not, donating your time, money, material goods, sheer will to support a cause is so so important to society and our own happiness.

  5. I’m the same, I just can’t watch it all. I can’t process all the heart break. That’s not to say that I’m not aware, and that I don’t do what I can, but I simply can’t watch the news 24/7; it makes me too sad, and too angry. Having said that, I made a comment last week to a friend about avoiding as much of what that hateful Trump says as I can and she really told me off! And, I know where she was coming from. At the moment apathy is allowing people like Trump to get away with what they are saying, and worse, it is encouraging others to spout hateful nonsense (on social media in particular). And, I guess avoidance can lead to apathy. So, I have become more active in sharing things. But, as I said to her, it’s not that I’m not aware, I just choose not to let him in to my life on a daily basis. There has to be a balance, and like you I choose what to get involved in, because we can’t do everything, but even small gestures do make a difference.

  6. I guess the problem with news these days, is the not so extraordinary is in your face the whole time too. Then of course the media likes to be sensational about the extraordinary 🙁 I’m the same though, haven’t watched the news for years.

    I’m pleased to hear that you guys are fans of Michael Moore, he has a new movie coming out real soon call Where to Invade Next? The title says it all doesn’t it? Can’t believe you passed up the opportunity of working with him, that would have been the shiz m’niz honey xxx

  7. I remember that too Denise, I remember being so sad but my family being so outraged that all that money was being raised and sent to Africa. Shocking really.

    We can only do what we can, but we must look after ourselves first and foremost. As Leigh says above, you can’t drink from an empty cup!

  8. I was talking about this the other day with my friend. Although everything seems so much worse nowadays, the reality is that it’s a cycle that’s been going on forever. Not that it makes it right, not at all, but our folks felt the same; and of course many of our grandparents fought in world war two or at the very least were very affected by it.

    I’m fortunate in that my neighbour works with a local women’s refuge, and anything they don’t use will be sold at fund raisers. It’s a new thing we’ve been doing in the last few months, and I can’t tell you how good I feel about this. It’s also triggered a very ruthless mindset, whereas previously I might have kept stuff I’m giving it them, because in my mind’s eye I know they need it much more than we do xxx

  9. That phrase is very poignant Leigh. We absolutely must look after ourselves, because if we don’t then we can’t look after anyone else. As I said it’s not that I don’t care anymore, it’s just that I don’t let these things get to me in the way they used to be able to. Thanks for dropping by xxx

  10. Great post lovely. I can get myself too wrapped up in events – I’ve always thought getting wrapped up in the world is good, to understand, to empathise rather than live in ignorance – but you’re right, there is a line. We can’t change the whole world, but we can change what is right for us – and do what we can. Guess it’s like remembering we can’t pour from an empty cup xxx

  11. I couldn’t agree more. If you were to let everything bad in the world get you down, I don’t think we could ever get out of bed… There are so many things that I worry about – our children are growing up in an era which should be free from bigotry and war. But when I look back at my parents and their parents before them – the cycle of life keeps going on. Inspiring post – and I try to do my bit more locally too with charities closer to home. xx

  12. I totally understand where you are coming from. One of my earliest memories is being sad about the coverage of the 1984 Ethiopia famine, and coming up with a plan, as a six year old, as to how I was going to save them.
    If only we could do the amazing things we so want to do, because I so understand the drive. But you are right that we can still make a difference and not despair of all the things we can’t – you make the world of difference to your kids, every single day.

  13. What a truly inspiring post Reneé. I used to work at the Guardian during uni, got some by lines writing for them (and I was also a researcher there) and I remember shadowing the Editor in the North Martin Wainwright who told me that news is the news because it’s the extraordinary. That doesn’t belittle the harsh reality and pain but it provides context. After kids I couldn’t bare watching the news, I couldn’t handle it. You are right about charity starting at home, about focusing on our own difficulties too while also helping others in ways we can. A little help goes a long way and there’s so many ways we can support struggling communities here and abroad. P. A I adore Michael Moore and was offered work experience in NY on his second film. The first had his email address in the credits so I emailed him. I didn’t go in the end but what an experience that would have been hey x

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