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6 Crushing Weights in our Modern World

A problem shared is a problem halved, and if we share these problems with eight billion, we’re going to see a drastic improvement. If each of us did one thing, then that’d be an incredible start.


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Peter Middleton

4 months ago | 8 min read
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Understanding can lift the weight off of our shoulders

Have you ever wondered why you can’t get the motivation together to change your life?

The truth is that, collectively, we are all more stressed now than we were, even at the beginning of 2020.

I was talking to a surgeon who lives in Madrid recently; he’s been monitoring cortisol levels from patient’s mouths. The levels are up this year.

It’s no surprise. A global pandemic is enough to make your heartbeat a little faster. Going out to the shop to buy food became a potentially life-threatening, life-altering decision.

The multiple ways that you went out to distract yourself from the stresses of life, which were very needed things to take the pressure off, are now not possible.

I don’t mean to bring up these things to scare you further, it’s just that I’ve found, when we talk about these things and acknowledge the complexity and the difficulty that they pose in our lives, it tends to make us feel better about the things we have been able to achieve.

It shifts the focus away from the big plans that you’re striving for and allows you to focus in on the next steps.

Knowing that there is so much collective uncertainty is a good thing because it brings context into the amount that you’ve been able to achieve.

Several other things are lurking on the horizon, that you might not be giving yourself credit for having to deal with, I have highlighted the top six, in my opinion, so that you might be able to relax and know that you’re doing the best you can:

Is it responsible to bring a child into this world?

There’s a big conversation amongst the millennial generation around whether to bring a child into the chaos of this current world. Bringing up a massive internal conflict; procreation is our number one drive and desire.

It’s well worth having this conversation because of the current population of the earth, and how mass food production is so detrimental to the natural and sustainable cycles that we previously relied on.

Post-industrial age, we have created mass farming techniques that are destructive to the environment. We could sustain these practices, yet, we run the risk of destroying biodiversity for the sake of needs as humans.

Again, this brings up a weight in everyday decisions; I spend a significant portion of my day worried that I’m not being sustainable enough, or thinking about how I can evolve my life to be more sustainable.

This also brings about the conversation about society: Is recycling effective? Where does our rubbish go, is it just dumped on a landfill? If it is landfilled (new verb), then what is the point in even trying to be sustainable.

Having a child is an excellent opportunity to raise them in a sustainable culture. It is, therefore contributing to the change that we need. That in itself is a big responsibility that people of our generation have to consider.

It used to be easy to be a ‘good’ person

Generations above the millennial had a much more defined set of parameters about what it meant to be a ‘good’ person: a house, a car, a job, are you married? Do you practice popular recreational activities?

Our generation is being asked things like what’s your position on Brexit? What are you doing to counteract climate change? How have you worked to end white supremacy and support the Black Lives Matter movement?

These are the pressing issues of our age.

With the rise of social media, it can feel more pressurised to have a voice on these things. There’s no guarantee that that voice will contribute meaningfully to the conversation.

I’ve sent a message out numerous times into the ether of my social media and not started anything in the way of meaningful conversation.

I think what I see in the life coaching industry rings true here. They say not to market for clients on social media, their reason being that people don’t engage meaningfully in that way. It will always take direct action to get to where you want to go.

Throwing a message out into an echo chamber won’t work, finding an organisation who are, and have been, doing well-established work in the field and supporting them will.

I think older generations valued how institutions hold power to create change through pooled resources. Unions for the working class is a great example, which sadly doesn’t exist anymore.

Being ‘woke’ challenges cultural narratives

Being ‘woke’ is a new trend, and it’s a good one in general. The more you are aware and awake to the challenges in your life, and the broader challenges in the world, the more chance you have of being the change you want to see, and contributing to the collective shift towards better practice.

The challenge comes generationally. I know this is probably the same as every human that’s ever existed, but the conversation between people of my generation and their parents seem a little more strained than ever before.

We are being called to make radical shifts in consciousness to achieve the goal of facing the human consumption problem of climate change. It’s not the planet’s problem; it’s our inability to change our habits. It’s our over-consumption that leads to waste and destruction of ecosystems.

Even framing the whole thing as climate change takes the responsibility of us humans. We should call it the ‘over-consumption problem’.

The climate is changing to balance out the effects that we have been burdening on it. If it needs to, the earth will kick us off, so that it can balance out. Nature seeks two things in a big way: balance and progression.

Our generation is faced with being the professional working population who have to be focused on the broader context of these changes.

Family conversations become very challenging, significantly because they might not value change or inner work, and they have very set ideas about what it is to be successful. We need to change these narratives for change to happen.

Gender dynamics

Gender fluidity is a considerable change in the last twenty years. Celebrating the fact non-gender specific people can express themselves as they wish. The challenge is to know what the correct terms are without being offensive.

No-one wants to say something ignorant that offends another person. Especially if that supports an oppressive and supremacist system.

In many cases, nothing is said because of the enormous weight and expectation that everyone demonstrates these dynamics absolutely, perfectly and correctly.

People who have followed my work for a while will notice that that is a product of a shaming system. It’s not possible to be perfect.

The issue being that the labels being thrown around on social media when you do get it wrong outweighs the incentive to engage in the conversation.

Especially for cisgender white males like myself who are probably the most ignorant of the conversation, and if I’m sincere, are losing the most privilege from the conversation.

I agree with the conversation being had, not that that is even my call, and I agree with the idea that we’re not free until everyone is free.

Two things stop me engaging in this conversation:

  • It’s not my main focus, and I am already stretched with learning how to be antiracist and maintaining my life.
  • I don’t feel comfortable entering this arena because there is an underlying stigma against cisgender white males.

I can understand where that stigma comes from; the resentment of being oppressed; finally, the tables have turned, and now we get to be the oppressors; the anger at being oppressed.

The challenge being that many of us cisgender white males are not your oppressor, we look like him. Shame and hatred will never lead to change.

Class divides are more prominent than ever before

This one is a big one, and there’s almost no discourse about this that I can see. White working-class folks who were previously privileged enjoyed economic security, and social status that tied into a strong national identity, have lost all of those things.

We’re seeing movements in politics around this idea. Trump and Brexit being the biggest. It’s not going to go away unless we face it.

The truth is, the working class were sold this idea alongside white supremacy to make them feel valued members of society.

We’re seeing a fracture here because the Black Lives Matter movement, and the globalisation economic movement took these essential things away from the identity of the working class. They weren’t replaced with anything.

Then, when they express their frustration, sadness, anger, numbness, despair, or any of the other emotions.

When they voice their excitement of populist movements that might bring back a small portion of pride in themselves or their identity, we shame them. Call them names, write them off as idiots and worse.

We need to have a conversation with these people about how much it hurts to lose those essential things, how we can help them to write a different story of validation and pride; incorporating collective ideas that help them as well as the collective.

Climate change guilt

Another crushing weight of this time is the guilt of how we have lived in the last hundred years. We are, without doubt, the most destructive generations of humans that have ever lived.

It’s not necessarily our fault; it’s a convergence of the ability to affect the environment with more unique technologies of production and a lack of awareness or care over the cause of those technologies.

We rarely lead from a sensitive and discerned place over how that technology would affect our ecosystem. There’s very little ethical or moral conversation in business or technology. It’s getting better now that it has to, yet it all feels so reluctant.

I think that most of us still live in the delusional state of apathy around climate change. Like it’s too big even to comprehend, so let’s not engage with it.

The more that the climate changes, the more we’ll see the detrimental effects of those changes on human society. That’ll force us all to sit up and notice, and it’ll be hard not to say I told you so.

The fact is we need to act now, and we need to act fast. Is that change even possible? Who knows. It doesn’t seem that way.

I fluctuate between great anger at the seeming inability of us as a race to change when it’s so necessary, and a great sense of purpose in what I’m doing to help that change to take place. I know it isn’t straightforward, and I also know it’s a great responsibility on our shoulders.

Integrating thoughts

I want to state again that I didn’t write this article to increase your overwhelm. I’m sorry if that’s the case. I wrote it so we can be curious and aware of the most significant issues of our time, and how they will inevitably create a weight on our shoulders.

We can all take a sigh of relief as to the amount that we have achieved in our lives. We can all know that the next step forward is the only step that is ever available to us. If that’s making a cup of tea, then that is fine.

We can kid ourselves into thinking that change can come without these small aligned actions. It’s so common to see people in a state of freeze because they don’t feel that they can ‘fight climate change’.

Do what you can, and we can all see the weight come off of our shoulders.

A problem shared is a problem halved, and if we share these problems with eight billion, we’re going to see a drastic improvement. If each of us did one thing, then that’d be an incredible start.

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Peter Middleton

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Peter is a creative coach working to unblock people's authentic creative essence and expression. Using transformational life coaching, meditation and embodiment techniques. He is passionate about mental health, trauma informed practice, spirituality and how to create sustainable cultures that empower in equity.


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