For those who read my post last month, you’ll remember I want to talk more about the topic near and dear to my heart. Anyone who calls their work Renaturing obviously anchors in the natural world. And I consider us part of this world- separated from it through cultural/societal norms, of course, but there’s more.
The exploitative mindset of the dominant culture: ownership of, power over, competition, and profiting by taking/using/abusing the natural world is detrimental to our innate need to belong.
In this context, I’m talking about belonging with our ecosystem. But I have no doubt you can extrapolate all the other pathways of belonging that are shut down or subverted by this prevailing mindset.
And, of course, that same mind and value set have led us to create human-caused climate change.
I could write a dissertation on this topic and am seriously considering doing so.
But the subject of this post is to touch on the trauma of climate change and some of what we can do to resolve it within ourselves. And we must.
The despair and hopelessness as well as the rejection of the topic that I see so often could be considered a freeze response. You know: fight, flight, freeze. We freeze When we get overwhelmed, have no way to escape, or can’t fight something. It’s a pretty good survival response, either we live to see another day, or there is so much numbness that we don’t feel as much of an end.
This *thing* won’t automagically end so we can jump up, shake it off and go on with our lives.
But that’s what our bodies, our nervous systems, are banking on, ’cause it worked before!
From that state of rejection of the facts or despair, there is no action possible. So, we need to help our systems work through the whole process and come out the other side ready to do anything we can.
The way I see it right now (before said dissertation,) there are several pieces to resolve, traditional types of trauma that can be worked with. These bits are in different proportions and arrangements within each of our nervous systems, just like everything else with us, no two are alike. It’ll depend on our personal and familial history, direct experiences, and personalities.
Here’s what I see:
Horror. We are watching it happen at this point. Even if we haven’t experienced the effects firsthand, the competitive 24-hour news cycle and every other bit of media put awful scenes, figures, and data in front of our sensitive eyes all the time. Whether you are more triggered by what’s happening to humans, animals, plants, or ecosystems, it’s there.
Grief. The losses are incredible, whether they are personal or not. Lives, places, ways of existing, how are we to grieve when we are expected to soldier on and either ignore it all or do more to fix it?
Societal/systemic trauma. This can show up in more ways than we can imagine. But the mindset I started with, which goes against our core nature as animals is one example. Another one is that I happen to live in an area whose human population is hard in the denial phase, which makes me feel like I need to hide who I am and what I believe- sometimes for the safety of my person or my property.
Shock. This may not pertain to everyone, but if you are one of the increasingly many folx who have first-hand experience of a devastating natural event, it’ll be a piece of this mix.
Awe. Let’s not forget that witnessing the sheer power of nature can be awe-ful and awe-inspiring. If we ignore this element, we are leaving something out.
I have no doubt that this is an incomplete list. Even calling it a list feels unjust. How does one accurately portray this huge tangle of feelings and complications in a simple list, chart, or diagram?
Our bodies certainly can’t.
But we can heal, in real-time.
Here are my thoughts.
We have to heal in community. Because individualism and isolation are a huge part of how we got here. But also, because this is too big to handle alone.
It just is.