Dr Tess Lawrie – Cultivating optimism in times of adversitySat 11:02 am +01:00, 5 Nov 2022
Positivity is not a lifestyle accessory but an essential characteristic for transcending the current difficulties and contributing to a better way
Many years ago, when I still lived in South Africa with my husband and small children, we were burgled. I won’t go into details, only to say that it was violent and terrifying. Unable even to consider returning to the scene of the crime, we ended up staying at a friend’s house for a couple of months. Needless to say, we were all traumatised. I remember one day shortly after the break-in, opening my friend’s wardrobe and finding a quote from Marcus Aurelius that said:
Everything that happens, happens as it should, and if you observe carefully, you will find this to be so.
Accepting that everything happens for a reason and all is as it should be has become a tricky concept to entertain in modern times where we are encouraged to blame other parties for our circumstances. But as I read it then, I realised it was true, and in that moment, there was complete acceptance of how things were.
I had no blame for the men who broke in. On the contrary, I remember feeling genuine compassion for them, because I had seen that they too were afraid. I could empathise with their perspective; they and we were raised in a political environment that fostered fear, mistrust and separation based on racial differences – divide and conquer being the age-old device of governments to control people. Integration of this experience in part shapes my approach to current life events.
Terrible things happen to people, every day. In these times, we see this more than ever.
So how does one stay positive and keep going in the face of so much dysfunction and suffering? I am asked this a lot, so here is what I have learnt, and I warmly invite you to share your own strategies for this in the comments.
First of all, it’s important to state that staying positive is not some kind of lifestyle choice. It’s not a false cheeriness, or a forced denial about the state of things. It really goes deeper than that and I would argue that it is a pre-requisite for the change we would wish to see for our children and grandchildren.
To stay positive, one has to first accept how things actually are. Get clear on what is going on and also how you feel about it. When you hear bad news, are you angry, sad, scared? As Marcus Aurelius says, ‘observe carefully’.
Like many, I spent much of 2020, and early 2021, deeply distressed by what was happening in the pandemic and had many sleepless nights. I felt that if I could just could just influence the health authorities to change their Covid strategies, persuade people to think twice before blindly following governments’ Big Pharma-corrupted advice, things would start to get better. I anxiously monitored international pharmacovigilance databases, noting with distress the escalating Covid ‘vaccine’ harms.
Somewhere along the line, I realised I didn’t have to let it get to me and feel this way. I realised I actually had a choice as to how I responded, and as to how I framed each situation. From there, I realised that if I had that choice, so did everyone else.
This was a revelation. Why? Because I realised that other people’s response to the world was their responsibility, not mine. I could not shoulder the burden of their suffering – that was beyond my control – but I could set out to effect positive change within my own life, that would help others.
I was actually relating this to a colleague today, who’d been feeling distressed about the deeply moving and sometimes shocking personal stories that we at WCH are privy to every day. She related that her distress was making her ineffective, hindering her ability to take positive action and change things.
This is what I mean when I say that staying positive is not a lifestyle choice, it’s a pre-requisite for the better world we are co-creating. This is not to say that we shouldn’t feel distressed or angry. But we can learn to observe these emotions, rather letting them pull us under. We can let go of the things we have no control over – such as other people’s reactions and experiences – and resume control of our own ability to choose.
This isn’t necessarily an easy path. It takes a willingness to look into the darker corners of our psyche and understand what is making us feel angry, sad or afraid. Sometimes we need professional support to help us navigate this, sometimes it’s just a matter of allowing ourselves to feel what we are feeling so that it can run its course.
In the observing, my own experience is that we step out of being governed by knee-jerk reactions, and move into a state of sovereign awareness. Rather than laying blame on others for the state of things – which is hugely disempowering – we can acknowledge our own complicity and take action to change that. In doing so, we regain our own agency and here’s the cosmic irony: in letting go of trying to control everything else and simply focusing on what we can control, we can exert the most incredible, positive influence on the world.
If this is an area that interests you, I think you’re really going to enjoy the next Tess Talks this Sunday with Laura Aboli. Laura is founder of the United Democratic International Movement for Awareness and Freedom (UDIMAF), an organisation dedicated to creating a better world through awareness, inspiration and the relentless pursuit of truth. She has also been a font of inspiration, information and common sense for many via her Telegram channel throughout the pandemic.
In our conversation, we speak about power and control, and the fact that it is the cabal that lives in fear. Laura also shared her own practical steps for staying positive and yes, she also says it’s at least in part about looking within and healing yourself. She has so many other practical insights I want to share with you, but I will leave you to hear from her directly this Sunday. I do hope you can tune in and join us.
Lastly, I would like to share a favourite lithograph by Robert Siwangaza, that has inspired and motivated me to keep my chin up since 1992 – a tribute to the late Mr John N. Muafangejo, man of man. May we all be so fondly remembered.