I live 500 miles from Kjiv, and the best I can do is to avoid media.

Photo by Alexandr Podvalny from Pexels

The war in Ukraine was no surprise to me. I’m Polish. I know history well. My whole life, I expected nothing good from Russia. I was surprised whenever a Russian behaved like a human being. Barbarian mayhem, lies, deception, zero honor, and killing kids? No surprise for me.

Needless to say, the start of the war didn’t soothe my nerves. My home is 500 miles from Kyiv, less than 200 miles away from the border with Ukraine. The week before the war, I was scrolling through media headlines every morning. I did the same on the 24th of February. I spent that day, probably like most of us, trying to live my life while frantically checking the news in media.

It put me in the fight or flight mode. My system was buzzing with adrenaline. Normally, I go to bed after 10 pm and I collapse. Falling asleep takes me about a minute.

That Thursday, I didn’t even try to hit the bed. I was hyperactive. Since I did very little work during the day (I was completely distracted), I worked till midnight. I finally went to bed at 1:30 am. I slept for about five hours.

The Cure

The next day, I decided to avoid media. I had to go to the office early, so I escaped home before my wife woke up and turned the TV on. Friday was much better than Thursday for me. I was still anxious and extremely curious what’s going on in the Ukraine, and I found a good filter for news – I read the Wikipedia entry about the Russian invasion.

The dry and factual way in which this entry was written helped me to detach a bit from the whole situation. I stuck with this method.

Well, I stuck with it till Tuesday, the 1st of March. I didn’t go to the office, and I was around when my wife turned on the TV. Fight or flight response was triggered. I couldn’t help myself, but checking the news every 10 minutes. Another day went down the sink. I worked for just three hours, and I did a poor job. In other words, I turned into a hot mess.

You can help others more by making the most of yourself than in any other way.” – Wallace D. Wattles

The main thing about the fight or flight mode is that it shuts down the conscious parts of the brain. Your blood is pumped away from the brain to your legs and arms to fight or flight. Research has proved that this response severely impairs human thinking abilities (here is a good article on that).

This is exactly what happened to me. I was ready to fight with my bare hands, but I couldn’t focus on a single task for 10 minutes. I wasn’t making the most of myself, that’s sure. And I wasn’t helping anybody by being a hot mess.

Circle of Influence

This war is outside of my Circle of Influence. There are very few things I can actually do to improve the situation of the Ukrainians.

I will donate some money. Being a Polish, I can bypass middlemen NGOs.

I’ll donate some medical supplies; my church community actually cooperates with the Ukrainian Embassy in this regard.

I’ll fight with useful idiots and Russian trolls on the Internet, but since I almost never use social media for everyday encounters, it won’t be much.

And that’s all I can do for now. I should focus on my Circle of Influence – my family, my business, my own wellbeing. Then, those activities may turn into something useful for others – articles and books, which will inspire and inform.

Following the news didn’t help me one bit. It didn’t help Ukrainians, either. In fact, it hurt them because it took me away from my Circle of Influence. Being a hot mess, I didn’t contribute much value to the human family.

I prescribe the same medicine for you. Define your own Circle of Influence. Focus on it. Do your best to ignore media altogether. Stay away from the news. Impairing your ability to think (fight or flight mode!) will not serve anybody.

Take care of yourself, your family and your responsibilities.

Make the most of yourself. This is the way to help others. Including Ukrainians whose lives were put upside down by this war.

Originally published at Medium.

War and Your Circle of Influence

2 thoughts on “War and Your Circle of Influence

  • March 23, 2022 at 11:54 pm

    Thank you Michal. As usual, your common-ground insight helped me and likely many others as well. Geographically, I’m about as far from the war on your doorstep as one can be: the Pacific Northwest of the USA. Emotionally, I’m much closer. It’s a frightening development no matter where on the planet one lives. Geo-politically it’s insanely threatening because bullies do not back down until knocked down. “Turning the other cheek” does not mean turning a blind eye to evil; it means trying to fix the nasty problem without making matters worse. Unfortunately, the current Russian bully has his fingers on chemical and nuclear triggers. He appears itching to use them regardless of the havoc his actions inflict on his own country as well as everyone else in the neighborhood and globally. You’re correct in your assessment: if we all keep our wits, resist panic, stay informed but refuse to be emotionally mauled by the media, and do the little bit individually that we can, then together we may herd this conflict away from the escalating global disaster it presently seems headed toward. May we be successful in that effort!


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