Ten Thoughts on Psychologically Surviving the Economic Crash

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From the excellent Peak Oil Blues Blog:

Ten Thoughts on Psychologically Surviving the Economic Crash

As the economy worsens, folks, you’ll see increasingly disturbing behavior. The Peak Oil community is no different. Here are my own thoughts that might be useful to you, as we all cruise down the economic highway.

(1) Find a local community you feel a part of, or create one for yourselves, first and foremost. Then, do good work in that local community, and do it over years, and then decades. Work on basic issues of food, shelter, health care and the like. Let people understand your strengths and weaknesses as a human being. Introduce them to your family. Cry with them. Get into altered states of consciousness with them. Let your good work speak for your trustworthiness, your loyalties, your goodness. Labels are harder to stick on real people you know intimately.

(2) If you are interested in figuring out who might be a “government agent,” you should ask yourself why that matters to you. Ask yourselves, instead: “Who is fragmenting, creating divisions, spreading hopelessness and distrust?” Then, stay away from those people, not because they are “agents,” but because those people are difficult to be around and work around. They encourage the very feelings and distance that will kill cooperative action for commonly shared goals.

(3) At the same time, welcome the dissenting voice, especially if that person is doing good work that benefits people directly. There is not “one way” to do anything, and people bring alternative creative ideas they feel passionately about. Allow plenty of room for people who “think differently” to still have a voice at the table, and value their contribution, especially if they are willing to work hard for mutual benefit.

(4) Develop a center, a core set of beliefs about the world, after being influenced by a host of conflicting thoughts and belief systems. Try to avoid pushing extreme beliefs that alienate you from people you are closest to emotionally. You can believe whatever you believe about the world, but keep yourself grounded in local actions. Look for common ground, and focus your mutual energies there.

(5) Cultivate a reputation for listening respectfully to the opinions of others. Ask yourself which ones fit most closely to what your own life experience has told you. Don’t try to convert anyone to your way of thinking, or be easily swayed by theirs. Just share your ideas. Remember the line: “A fanatic is someone who won’t change their minds and won’t change the subject.”

They are a drag at parties, and are often socially isolated. Put your beliefs into action, don’t look for converts. If you are right, history will bear you out. Let that be enough.

(6) Hold all of your ideas lightly, especially the stories you tell yourself ABOUT yourself. Listen carefully to any hostile voices in your head that insult and denigrate you or your actions, and make them alien voices. Instead of saying “I’m never going to make this work” turn it to “You’re never going to make this work” and then learn to ignore the harsh critic that lives inside of you. Don’t fight with it, it just makes it stronger. Just recognize it as a ‘grouchy in-law’ that you have to live with, but not listen to. Accept that you are a Bozo, like the rest of us. You aren’t the worst or the best. Get over it.

(7) Be cautious of saviors. They often are into the crucifixion business (of themselves or others). As in most things, follow the money. You may find that the savior is brought to you by a band of friendly multi-national corporations, political parties, etc.

(8) Educate yourselves about cults. All cults follow a similar behavioral pattern. Learn that pattern well, so that you can learn to recognize a cult when you see one. For example, there is (or was) a charismatic leader that has “secret and arcane knowledge” that can only be passed down (often for a price) to the “true believers” who successfully complete the initiation rites.

Independent thought is often not tolerated, and those “heretics” are isolated. The details may vary, but notice the patterns so you can recognize it when you come across it.

(9) Relocalize, but avoid the belief that any one group of “how to” instructions are going to be useful to you in doing it, particularly if it is extremely “popular.” In a capitalist system, something is “popular” often because it somehow fits neatly into some aspect of the larger economy. True relocalization isn’t always fun, and requires the cooperative work of a lot of people who have been working in your community for decades. Before you build a brand new “organization,” or teach a “new way” of forming a community, get to know what’s there already.

(10) Finally, accept your humanity. You only have a limited time on this Earth. Your most valuable possession is time. Try to be sure that your life is filled with universal elements of humanity–song, dance, laughter and humor, story-telling, drama, eating, sleeping, love, passion, loyalty and romance, being outdoors, to name a few. Never let any “cause” or “movement” crush your ability to enjoy these universal delights.

(You might have to clock in less computer time to do it, Dude.)

The world is changing, whether we like it or not. Listen to what Richard Heinberg said when asked if we’re going to actually be able to make the changes we need to make:

“Can we do it? I don’t even care about that question…We HAVE to do it.”

October 15, 2009 · David · No Comments
Posted in: Good Advice

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