The morning after the debate, I woke up with the weight of the world, a headache before I even got out of bed. I couldn’t tell if I was angry, devastated, afraid, annoyed, or apathetic. It was pretty much a combo of all of those feelings.
I made coffee, sat with my journal and wrote down all the things in my head. My fears, frustrations, questions, all the stuff swirling around causing the sh*tstorm of emotion I was feeling. Then I just sat with the vibrations of those feelings. I felt a bit more clear headed after that. But only a bit.
I got up to start my day and glanced over at my teenager sleeping on the couch (for some annoying reason he’s made the living room his bedroom for the past few weeks).
I try to imagine all of this through his eyes. I try to remember my brain when I was 17 and how I pretty much didn’t think about the future of my country. I had the luxury of fantasizing about the names of my future children, or all the places I would travel, or how I was going to get around curfew so I could stay at the party all night.
But he wakes up to seeing him mom scrolling on her phone and saying things like, ‘Our country is going to sh*t’.
Our kids are watching us.
They’re picking up cues all the time, forming thoughts about how they should feel about their future.
What I’m observing happening to my teens is that they’re not planning for a future.
They’re looking down the barrel of climate change, a crumbling democracy, leaders who act like toddlers, insidious racism, an educational system that’s imploding, a global pandemic, and a country very likely headed towards civil war.
I ask my kids what they want to do for their careers and they look at me blankly as if they haven’t given their future a single thought. What future?
We’re in fight or flight. A people under threat. Hoarding supplies, stocking up on weapons, hunkering down, plotting how to protect our property and our rights. Every man for himself.
Survival mode is a natural function of the brain that says, ‘‘what do I need to do immediately to make sure me and mine survive?’ and it’s kept us alive for millions of years. But it’s also a state of mind in which creativity, hope, higher thinking, strategic planning, and peacekeeping don’t exist.
Our kids are in survival mode too, but it looks like virtual escapism, substance abuse, withdrawal, apathy, and sleeping on the couch all day. It might appear they are oblivious, but trust me, they most definitely aren’t.
What message are we sending? ‘The world is doomed, but go do your homework and clean your room.’
Why should they?
Are we consciously speaking words of HOPE about their futures? How do we, when we feel so hopeless?
One place I find hope is when I’m in a state of creativity.
We are all creative. It’s our connection to life, our path to dignity. It’s our ability to solve problems, see possibility, find beauty in the ugliest of things, discover our power, connect to humanity, create something new, see beyond the current circumstances, express our higher selves, bring light to the world.
Are we empowering our kids to tap into their own creativity to create a world they want to live in?
Are we teaching them the power of their own minds to rise above seeming destruction and find solutions? Are we telling them, out loud, they are fully capable of painting a better picture? Are we equipping them to trust their intuition, express their individual gifts, and offer their unique voice? Are we enabling them to IMAGINE not just surviving, but of experiencing something even better?
Are we believing that there IS hope for their future?
Words are everything. And they are listening to all of them.
So maybe when we hear ourselves say things like, ‘this world is f*cked’ we can remember to add, ‘but you have the power within you to make it more beautiful’.
I’m going to have to be diligent to mind my words over the next couple of months.
I’ll choose hope for the sake of our children.
I’ll breathe my way out of survival mode long enough to remind them that they can always create a beautiful world.
By Rebecca Stark Thornberry. Rebecca is a Mastery Certified Life Coach and the owner of Rebecca Stark Coaching. You can visit her website rebeccastarkcoaching.com or contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.