Is what I am feeling normal?
Feeling the threat of climate change naturally involves uncomfortable thoughts and emotions such as fear, anger, anxiety, withdrawal, depression, guilt, shame, grief, and helplessness. We can view uncomfortable sensations as messages, our body has an effective alert system.
In 2015, I asked myself the question; "Are these feelings normal?"
4-years later, S.O.S. (Sustainability of Self as part of a whole living organism) was born as an Applied Ecopsychology Masters research project.
I thought the world was crazy behaving as if everything was normal!
The focus on 'Climate Change' uncomfortable emotions originated from personal, challenging feelings and transitioned through many emotional and ecological states. I researched and studied climate change and planetary systems, read climate scientist letters and articles predicting increased impacts on human and planetary health. I researched how people, especially climate scientists maintained their wellbeing. I had no one to talk with, my relationships suffered, my mental and physical health suffered, the psychologists I spoke with didn't provide the support I needed. Meanwhile, alone, I tried to make sense of my feelings and desire to know why no one was talking about this issue.
With nature as my guide, support, and teacher, my Ecopsychology and eco-art therapy studies provided direct experiences with nature's wisdom to maintain my focus, wellbeing and resilience. I learned that there were many other people around our world also grappling with this issue, so I joined online groups to find out more. Meaningful action appeared to be one of the best antidotes for despair and a sense of helplessness or hopelessness, so I became a volunteer climate communicator with Climate for Change. I quickly learned how I was not alone with symptoms of eco-anxiety, loss, and grief through conversations with many people in our local communities. People chose not to talk about planetary and ecological systems collapse for many reasons; afraid of the reactions from others about talking about 'the elephant in the room', didn't know how to verbalize their feelings and concerns, or would rather detach from the thoughts and feelings. I also learned how good people felt when they had the opportunity to talk about it.
Something was seriously lacking in our community; the need for nurturing, safe spaces to voice, share and acknowledge the associated feelings, and opportunities for regular regenerative moments to transform these sensations to maintain our wellbeing and build our resilience.
"Just as grief over the loss of a loved person puts into perspective what matters in our lives, collective experiences of ecological grief may coalesce into a strengthened sense of love and commitment to the places, ecosystems and species that inspire, nurture and sustain us."
S.O.S. was created to fill a void
We are viewing our planetary systems reacting to imbalance in our human systems. I believe that the symptoms being labeled under eco-anxiety are a very sane, reasonable and healthy responses to an existential threat and feelings of loss because of our love and interwoven relationships within our natural world. We all need to feel safe and secure and it is understandable to feel pain, loss and suffering when something we love and the projected future appears threatened.
Acknowledging the sensations as a reality, instead of dismissing, distracting or dissociating ourselves from them is a step to transitioning these uncomfortable feelings.
SOS sets aside time within our local community and busy daily lives. We enjoy rejuvenating moments as we collaborate with each other and nature and realise we are not alone with our thoughts and sensations. Ecopsychology methods along with other practices offer tools for us to navigate an uncharted future together.
You are not alone...
Contact: Deb Punton, Ecopsychologist & S.O.S facilitator
“The sorrow, grief, and rage you feel is a measure of your humanity and your evolutionary maturity.
As your heart breaks open, there will be room for the world to heal.” -Joanna Macy
Ecopsychology examines how our disconnectedness as a species, and thinking we are separate from Nature has created Earth-separated behaviours reflected in anthropocentric climate change. Vulnerable states of planetary imbalance threaten many species including our own and this is reflected within us with uncomfortable feelings and sensations. Many of us are experiencing a complex range of thoughts and emotions. Disharmony in physical, social, psychological and emotional health is evident and predicted to rise as we witness, or are subject to greater consequences of ecological and societal collapse.
"The deteriorating state of Earth and people signals that we and the environment are at risk. Our thinking is excessively separated from nature within and around us. We must consciously reunite our mind with natural systems and begin to co-create with nature. Doing nature reconnecting activities helps make this happen. They offer an urgently needed service and vast economic benefits. Interestingly, the word for breathing and sharing spirit together is 'conspire.' Shouldn't we learn how to conspire to support life and our lives on Earth, rather than dance on the deck of our sinking ship?" - Dr. Michael Cohen, Project NatureConnect (The Secrets-of-Nature Attractions Trail)
Greensong respectfully acknowledges the traditional caretakers of the land and waters on which we live, work and play. We recognise that sovereignty was never ceded and pay respect to Elders past, present, and emerging. I also acknowledge that we are in the midst of a climate and ecological emergency and many indigenous are at the forefront of the crisis and also have wisdom for the solutions we require to move forward united.
We also acknowledge with gratitude, the more-than-human beings within our world.