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The Interdisciplinary Work of Lyss England

Posts tagged community

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“I texted my friend to say I wanted to talk with them about something and it made them really anxious and now they want an apology.”

It’s never fun to get those texts or to be the person who genuinely just wants to have a conversation and finds out someone was distressed by their message. We’ve all been there, probably on either side at some point or another. Whether in romantic relationships, friendships, or even professional relationships, our actions affect one another.

If you’re a person with anxiety, you can probably relate even more. Catastrophizing is a thing we do by definition, and “Hey dude, can we talk when you get off work?” can quickly turn into “Hey dude, I think you totally suck and I don’t want to be friends with you anymore ’cause you’re the worst”.

This  fear relies on the concept that things are being done to us, and that means that we have no control over our experience. By giving into this fear (which, yeah, is real and uncomfortable), we allow ourselves to give any power we do have over our reactions away. And then our fear is enforced. It’s also a way we tend to avoid accountability for our uncomfortable feelings. If we can blame someone else instead of taking ownership for ourselves, that’s a lot easier in the short term. This then allows us to justify our feelings, which are often unavoidable within ourselves, rather than just giving ourselves permission to feel them. I wrote about this before when I wrote about escaping and preventing toxic communities:

Escaping and preventing toxic communities comes down to changing our perspectives from “they did this to me and this feels awful” to “this happened and it feels awful because I’m perceiving it as something that was done TO me that I have no control over.”. The reality is that you do have control over what you do with your hurt. Sure, communicating to the person you felt hurt by may be helpful, but what will be really helpful is you changing your perception (and thus, your reality) of the hurtful thing. It’s not about ignoring the hurt or “choosing not to feel it”. I mean, that sounds nice, but we all know it’s not that simple. It’s about feeling it and acknowledging that it probably had nothing to do with you and everything to do with the other person/people. What is yours is your reaction. When we accept people for where they are at, it makes for far healthier and happier interpersonal relationships. And when we can’t reconcile where someone’s at with the reality we’re choosing to actively build for ourselves, we get to choose the context in which we relate to that person.

This works on a smaller level than just in the context of community-building. It also works in individual relationships. So here are three easy steps for what to do when someone makes you feel bad:

1. Readjust your paradigm.

Did someone make you feel some way? Or are you feeling someway about something what happened?

2. Take back your power.

Once you’ve shifted your paradigm to a place where you’re recognizing that you have control over your reaction rather than simply being a passive recipient of something someone else does to you, you’ll find you have a lot more choice over how you respond. No, this isn’t a magical anxiety cure- but it does help.  A lot. This is the time to make an in-the-moment decision about what’s going to happen for you. Sometimes, (okay, a lot of the time) that reaction is emotional and it’s totally okay to let yourself feel it. But don’t act on it immediately. Take a breath and give yourself a little time and gentleness to feel what you need to feel.

3. Make a decision about how you want to react.

Sometimes people do things that violate our boundaries, which is one of the most common reasons we end up getting in our feels. The good news is that we’re in control of our boundaries and we can shift them as we need to. Although emotions aren’t always negotiable, actions (and reactions) are. And it can feel really empowering to choose who you want in your life and the context that you choose to have them. Sometimes it’s worth the work to communicate about your boundaries and to negotiate your interactions with people, and sometimes it’s not. The cool thing is that it’s your choice.

I’ve mentioned that emotions aren’t always negotiable, especially for people living with anxiety disorders, but I also need to acknowledge that we live in a social world where so much is out of control. The way our disabled bodies operate in a late-capitalist system, the way race affects peoples’ experiences, the way our gender dictates literally how much we will be paid or how likely we are so be raped… We don’t have control over those things. And I want to be very clear that I am not talking about systemic violence in the rest of this post. It’s also well worth noting that people have the choice to use whatever privilege they may have to hold some space for oppressed people’s reactions for being oppressed. That shit is real.

What this post is about is about how we do our best to operate within this world and how we can tangibly go about standing in our power when we do have control over what happens. Because that’s real too. And all of these things can exist simultaneously.

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I often feel compelled
To do as much as this
Glass picture frame that
Houses
My ever-moving self
Will allow me to do not
Because I feel obligated but
Because I feel true and honest
Joy
When my finger tips graze the
Energy of your toe tips
When our voices mix
Like cream blends into fresh coffee
My joy is not fleeting
Because it has roots
So when my chest caves in,
Instead of speaking my truth,
I am called to rest.

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Check out my interview with Nicole Beatty! We chat about:

  • Nicole‘s favourite things about living in Northumberland County
  • About Nicole’s career in community development and resource development management
  • What lead Nicole to run for council
  • Nicole’s experience with being a young women running for town council
  • Nicole’s vision for economic development in Cobourg
  • Nicole’s vision for culture and tourism in Cobourg
  • Nicole’s vision for sustainability in Cobourg (including the inflatable floating playground at Cobourg Beach)
  • Nicole’s vision for affordable housing
  • Nicole’s vision for engaging youth in the community (including all-ages show venues and a youth advisory council)
  • Nicole’s advocacy work
  • What community looks like to her
  • Nicole’s favourite Cultivate moment ever
  • Cannabis legalization, the role of municipal government in managing it, and looking to Indigenous communities to learn from them.
  • What song Nicole is learning on uke

 

Local Organizations Nicole is Associated With:

Featured Tunes:
Born to Love You by Ellen Torrie  (Click her name to check out her rad new website!)
I’ll Wait by Sweet Alibi 
Burn the Rapists, Not the Witches by Backyard Riot (From their brand new, locally written and recorded EP!)
Bro Hymn by Pennywise

I recently began “Integral Coaching” sessions with an absolutely delightful woman named Rae Kess. This process started with a conversation about where I’m at personally and with my creative work. It then moved to world-building and goal-setting. Then, Rae created a rad outline for our work (it’s very based on metaphors, super cool stuff) that provided a one-sentence focus for my work over the next 5 months. The topic she identified after our conversation was:

“To be more able to set clear boundaries so I can focus my energy on structuring and monetizing the creative work that I care about.”

To get there, one thing we discussed a current way of being and a new way of being. For me, the current way of being involves attending to other people’s needs and pushing aside my own creative projects because my energy has been spent elsewhere. Moving in to the new way of being will, theoretically, involve setting up structures that support my work so that I can be more intentional with where I spend my energy.

The thing that I’m intentionally maintaining is keeping a lot on my plate. I love to be busy, it keeps me well. The key is where I am prioritizing and focusing my energy. In order to re-set my energy throughout the day, Rae suggested a 5-minute-a-day exercise she calls “Tiny Explosions” (LOVE IT). The idea is that our bodies need to be engaged in the transition towards a new way of being. If I am emotionally/mentally/spiritually in a state of transition, it makes sense that my body ought to be as well- even if it’s just in a small way.

As a disabled person, I recognize the importance of connecting with my body and tuning in to it. This makes a lot of sense to me. So, I reached out on social media to crowd source strategies people in my community that people use to refocus their energy during their workday.
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Not surprisingly, people came up with a ton of great strategies. Here they are all in one place (with links to what they’re talking about):

Jasmine-June Cabanaw – Sun salutations

Ron Hyatt – Short walks, meditation

Amy Anderson-Macarthur – Exercise ball vs chair, Resistance bands

Jenni Burke – Spinal Flex: inhale forward and exhale back.

Heather Harrison – Kundalini

Cailey McCormack a cuddle with my pupper – no joke. She sits on my lap and stares at me and I stare back and it makes me laugh, and then I put her down on the ground and take a few deep breaths. I also drink an entire glass of water. It’s one of my strategies for helping me get out of a panic attack. Something about it that works.

Amber Dawn Vibert Eating food and drinking water is the only thing that makes me feel okay

Paul Devlin – I just take a moment to be happy I’m at work and not in the hospital or jail. Positive thinking for a min to keep me moving

Ariel Patricia – Jumping jacks

Craig Martin I leave work early. Takes 5ish minutes. When I get home and jump into the pool it totally re-energizes me.

Richard D. Quodomine – Feng Shui health and exercise balls

Danielle Hobbs – I run my hands under really cold water, like ice cold.

Dayna Lepofsky – Go for a short walk, cold water on the wrists or face, a quick stretch in the sun if possible, stretch out my limbs in the chair if I can’t leave my desk, crack my back, blink really really hard a few times but this one kind of just makes me dizzy sometimes lol

Sarah Jean Kennedy – I wash my hands and splash my face with cold water a few times. Fix my makeup and hair then back at it!

Tom Keefer – My fitness program consists only of doing one set of as many push-ups I can do once a day. It works pretty good and is real quick.

Andrew Charles Weed – pen

Monique Melanson  – Do a breathing exercise

Kim Doolittle – Sleep and naps

Jesse Watts – I do a couple 5 minute meditations a day. Helps me with my anxiety and helps me get “grounded”/relax. Not really physical but helps with body connections.

Jeff Wheeldon – Pushups. Start small, but do it many times per day. Amazing how fast your strength can improve from incremental gains, and it wakes me up like nothing else.

Anne-Marie Bouthillette – 5minute meditation/deep breathing/body scan

Effie Dice – Wim Hof breathing

To summarize, the most common suggestions were:

  • Push ups or jumping jacks
  • Meditation
  • Washing hands or face with cold water
  • Drinking a glass of water
  • Stretching

 

It’s powerful what happens when we ask for what we need. Try some of these strategies if you’re looking for a “tiny explosion” to refocus during your work day. Or, better yet, ask your community what strategies they use!

(Thanks for the inspiration, Rae!)