Comfort in Dark Times
by Sheenah Hankin Ph.D.
The end-of-year holidays are a time for company and celebration, a time for guilt-free overeating and overspending. It is also the darkest time of the year-short days and long nights. Another darkness has affected our country now.
Listen to what clients in my diverse practice tell me:
“I am frightened to walk the streets at night and in downtown anytime.”
“I am worried that my beautiful granddaughter will be attacked in high school, especially in the shared bathrooms.”
“I can’t read the press or listen to the media-it’s all hostility and character assassination.”
“I feel the effects of inflation and I’m afraid of the future economy.”
Politicians who think we are stupid try to shut us down. No wonder people feel scared and powerless. So here is my prescription to manage these fears and to encourage those who do not know how to comfort others who are afraid, and perhaps to comfort themselves as well.
First, do not have a political discussion. Instead, point out that anxiety is based on dire predictions of future loss and suffering. We all experience hard times, but we recover. Thankfully, these events are temporary. Everything goes in cycles: the tides, the seasons, and the weather. There are good reasons to hope for and expect better times.
Second, avoid discussing facts and offering your opinions. Just focus on feelings-depression begins with self-pity, fear and rage. Comfort is the best anti-depressant. It may feel that “Hell is empty and all the devils are here” (Shakespeare, The Tempest), but a feeling is rarely based on a fact. People are biologically designed to collaborate in a crisis, and survive as a result.
No one can take your humanity or your faith away from you, except you. No one can stop you from speaking up no matter how hard they try. The real power on our planet is the sun. I go out many fine mornings and watch the sun arrive. Dark clouds suddenly are framed in the shimmering gold, and my world lights up. It’s uplifting.
Meanwhile, join me-- eat, drink and be merry, and don’t worry about “healthy” until January 02, 2023.
Sheenah Hankin is a New York City-based Author, Psychotherapist, Speaker, Radio & TV Personality, Director of Cognitive Consulting, and Chairperson of Staythenight.com.