How to talk about the climate crisis with your friends

I know you already encountered this phenomenon: smart and intelligent people who believe that the climate crisis is a fraud. Who believe the climate crisis is not man-made, that species always went extinct and this is part of evolution. They say it’s just natural to experience the heavy floods, wildfires and storms once in a while, it was always like that. And actually, everything is just fine.

And, you look at them with this funny look, with a sense of arrogance ‘cause, come on!!!  You can’t believe that this person, this friend of yours, this person you thought to be smart and funny, actually thinks those things. 

You believe that if they just knew or read the right news, their eyes would open up, so you present them some basic information to prove your point. You are positive that they will come to their senses if they just knew the facts! But, whatever you do, whatever evidence you share with them, the alerting science models, the graphs and the statistics – nothing changes their minds. 

Some have counter-arguments to share with you and you find yourself in a daunting argument. Some just don’t want to talk about it. They say it’s not their job to save the world, they say they are too busy with their own life struggles that they have no room for big problems. Some say that they don’t understand enough to have an opinion and some get anxious and defensive.

You find yourself helpless, frustrated, angry, scared and confused – all at once. If they don’t believe in science, what does that mean? Are they really so dumb and closed-minded? Is there any way to convince them they got it all wrong?

A few days or weeks go by, and the call to connect with them awakens in you.

You know you have to try, do your best, be bold, for humanity’s sake.

This time you are more cautious, your eyes don’t shine as much. You have already been rejected before by all those people who didn’t want to listen to you. It hurts to be rejected, ignored, put down and pushed away. You do not want to feel that way again. No – you refuse to feel that way again. 

You come across a really good article that sums the whole problem up, maybe this time they will listen? Even though you still feel tightness in your chest when you think about them, you send the article. You ask them to read it. You hope that they will read it and maybe change their minds. You wish they would stop going on cruise ship holidays, you wish they would change their carnivore diet or stop using single-use plastics. Your mission is so important. You hit send.

You ask them about it the next time you meet. They didn’t even open the document! They didn’t even take the time to read!

What is it? Don’t they get it? What is going on?

It’s their world too, and it’s falling apart!

Why don’t they listen to the obvious facts? To science? 


So, what is really going on? Why don’t they listen?

Your facts are not being considered at all because they put a lot of emotional pressure on the other person who feels overwhelmed and unsafe to let this information touch them. They sense the danger in reading something that might make them feel uncomfortable, that might change their whole lives and perspective. They might feel guilty, sad, or out of balance. They might realize that they spent their entire lives or career going in the wrong direction. They might have to consider that they and their family are part of the problem. It’s unravelling.

Whatever the reason may be, people won’t listen to your information if they feel unsafe and to do so with you. They will protect themselves, their emotional well being and their identity with all their might.

I know you feel you know the truth, and it’s so obvious for you and they just got it all wrong. I know you really want them to stop doing damage and start showing some care for the planet. You want that because you care. You care for the planet and you care for them. You wish they would change because you will feel closer to them, connected, united by the common cause. If they change it will show they also care. It will show they understand you were right, it will make your life better. It will also give you a sense of success.

Deep inside, you are looking for connection and intimacy.

If you can put aside what you want them to do and how they have to change their ways and talk with them from your heart that cares for them and for your relationship. You will find out they are more attentive and can listen. They will have less need to protect themselves, they will share with you more and you will feel less alienated. Then, quite naturally, they will want to hear from you. The conversation will change from who’s right, to let’s listen to each other and share our views and learn on the other’s perspective.

When you share your truth in a safe space and you are being heard, you feel connected, seen and empowered. They don’t have to agree with you or change their behaviour right away. You want them to listen to you because you need to express yourself and feel safe to be yourself with them. The change will naturally occur without arguments and persuasions.

Remember, no one can argue with what you feel. Share your deepest truth, your feelings, your concerns. Don’t focus all your effort on conveying the facts.


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@yaelfiner

When the search for truth turns into anxiety

“I was devastated, I was in a deep depression. Everything felt black, I’m not sure I want to tell you all of it I don’t want you to feel the same”. Ella had doubts concerning the COVID-19 pandemic, things didn’t make sense to her, so she did her own research. In the next two months, she dived deep and searched for the truth that is not to be found on the mainstream media. The information she had found was hard to contain. It’s the worldwide scam, the lies, the misinformation, one world order, the collaborations of doctors, the systemic control over people, forced vaccinations and what not.

It is easy to get anxious or depressed from all these horrors. Which are breaking our sense of security and deteriorating our trust in the systems. But, whether the information we read is true or not our emotional reaction to the information already kicks in. The anxiety is already prevalent. Anxiety is a fear of fear, it’s a fear from something that is not affecting us at the moment, but has the potential to do so.

Many people like Ella, when feeling anxious tend to continue to looking – and finding – more. We do that in order to understand more, to examine the information, to feel secure (at least in our knowledge of what’s going on). The feeling in the body is heavy, the heart beats fast and things that usually make us happy are no longer doing that. Life is painted in shades of black. Although in our daily lives very little has changed, the feeling after reading this information transfers us into a horror movie.

One possible and I think the most common response to anxiety from the news is to not read, not know in order to avoid the feelings that anxiety brings with it. This method has its cracks because even when you turn away from it, it still knocks on your door and penetrates your awareness. Ignorance doesn’t prevent what is happening in the world from affecting us and doesn’t help us respond in an effective way.

Another very common strategy is to dive into the rabbit hole, into the depths of information to capture every little bit of it and supposedly, put together an image that is the truth. The desire to know more and more and be on top of it, to have as sense of control over what is happening. This truth is supposed to give us a sense of connection with reality as it is and even some inner peace. “I know the truth, I’m nobody’s fool,” “I won’t go like a sheep to the slaughter”. This strategy has its own problems as it produces a loop of anxiety. We’re trying to understand and gain control of our lives but in practice, the more information we’re exposed to the less in control we feel. In practice, the anxiety deepens.

Both of these strategies are responses to information, one is in avoiding it and the other is in diving into it. As if all that matters is the information, its correctness or wrongness.

There is a third, radically different strategy. Instead of putting our the mental energy on knowing what’s going on, we can put some of the focus on our emotional processing and fulfilling our need for safety and security. Anxiety itself is a warning flag, it is a sign from the body that we have important needs that are not being addressed. In this case the need for security.

When you read an article that “drowns” you in anxiety, that produces a lump in your throat, tense shoulders, shallow breathing and a feeling that your whole world has shrunk to a point and everything is painted black, you can dive into what you feel. Instead of rejecting these feelings, instead of ignoring their existence, instead of continuing to read and adding fuel to the fire, instead of analyzing the situation or rushing to come up with conclusions –

You just let your feelings and sensations be.

You notice that the energy in the body goes to the shoulders and the body contracts and you stay with it. It is critical and important information that comes from deep places that want to protect you, it comes from your subconscious, an early response to a state of danger.

A very important mental change is happening here. Instead of rejecting and resisting what is happening, you are surrendering. The relaxation of letting go produces something special and exciting. The anxiety changes, it turns from “Life is awful and there’s nothing to live for” to “Oh, I have strong energy in me that cries out to be heard.” Listen carefully. It matters. It’s not the information out there that matter. The call that arises from within and guides us on how to be the masters of our lives,

A very important mental change is happening here. Instead of rejecting and resisting what is happening, you are surrendering. The relaxation of letting go produces something special and exciting. The anxiety changes, it turns from “Life is awful and there’s nothing to live for” to “Oh, I have strong energy in me that cries out to be heard.” Listen carefully. It matters. It’s not the information out there that matter. The call that arises from within and guides us on how to be the masters of our lives. This wise anxiety tells you to stop, it’s telling you that something big is happening here and you are suddenly present that it has a place within you. It doesn’t become you. The anxiety is no longer painting everything. It just one part of all the parts that are you.

This wise anxiety tells you to stop, it’s telling you that something big is happening here and you are suddenly present that it has a place within you. It doesn’t become you. The anxiety is no longer painting everything. It just one part of all the parts that are you.

Suddenly, you realize that instead of the news controlling you and your feelings, you have returned to the leader’s seat and taken control back in your hands. You now feel grateful to the anxiety for reminding you of what is important to you. That you are important to you.

And now that you have calmed down and are breathing deeply again into your lower belly, it’s time to remember that you are actually no less important than the news you are reading. It’s time to ask yourself: What is important? What basic need of mine isn’t being met?

Our needs are security, love, uniqueness, intimacy, touch, nourishment, health, fulfilment.

There is no such need as a “knowing the truth.” The search for truth can be an attempt to fulfil the need for security or to fulfil the need to be special or healthy. Just as there is no need such as “money.” Money is a means to get your needs met. And just like with money, knowing the truth is often confused with the goal itself.

To discover the real need, you may want to ask yourself what is important to you and keep asking several times until you get deep enough.

For example:

What is important to me? It’s important to me to not be lied to. Why is it important to me not to be lied to? Because to live a lie is to not live. Why is living a lie not living? Because there is uncertainty in a life of lies and I feel lost. Why is it important to me that there be certainty? Certainty is security. And we have reached the need for security that we’re trying to address by seeking certainty in the news.

Another thing is hidden here that it is important for me to live. There is a desire to live! What is it like to be alive for me? Enjoy this moment. Do you enjoy this moment?

Now that there is a focus on what is important to you and what motivates you, you can think of other ways to fulfil your need for security. For example, focusing on your body and exercising it increases actual confidence. It may not make sense, but the feeling of security does increase. Meditation also does that. Any action you take in the direction of what you believe in increases your sense of personal security.

The desire for certainty and the absence of certainty is a dynamic that we dance around all our lives. There is no certainty in life. We produce false feelings of certainty by buying life insurance, by working a permanent job, by accumulating money in the bank, by maintaining a relationship and practicing routine. We seek security and certainty in a world that is changing faster than our brains can get it. However, our very ability to live in uncertainty, to relax into the discomfort, to stay with the tension that uncertainty produces – produces a sense of security and sustainability that no information in the world can give you.

Practicing staying in discomfort, allowing & accepting overwhelming emotions, identifying your true needs and taking effective action is the key to healthy coping with any information that comes your way. In addition, this quiet and private action actually contributes to the world, instead of being anxious and increasing the power of anxiety in the world. You become a source of light to everyone around you. Accept your anxiety with love and it will empower you from within as nothing has empowered you to this day.

And now, as you feel empowered, aware of your true needs, feel secure in the face of uncertainty, and are in a high state of consciousness, free from fear, new possibilities open up for you to think further about essential and philosophical questions.

Is it more moral to foribly vaccinate the majority of the population in order to protect the minority? Or is it more moral to let nature take its course and risk the health of the minority to protect the freedom of the majority? Which is more important, freedom or safety, majority or minority? Can both be equally important?


If you liked this, follow me on Twitter. I teach people how to talk about hot topics without exploding or shutting down.

@yaelfiner

How to deal with bad news?

We are exposed to a lot of news (especially bad news) every day, and each of us develops a strategy to deal with that. Some consume so much news in hopes to get a grip on what’s really going on that they feel tense, overwhelmed and empty. Many stopped consuming news altogether because they feel very vulnerable when exposed to so much negativity. Others take it to heart so much they get depressed, bitter and spread fear and frustration to those around them. None of these strategies are particularly helpful.

I would like to suggest another way to deal with bad news. A way that puts you in the center, a way that empowers you and supports your growth, while allowing you to feel safe, to keep exposing yourself to the world (bad news) and at the same time allows you to find your own way to respond effectively to what’s going on.

If you just watched a piece of news, that coloured your future in black, and you feel like you have no air to breathe, you feel tightness in your belly and less energy to live, you are triggered! Being triggered means that your emotional buttons were pressed, and you are now reacting from an unaware place and without control. This is dangerous. Triggered people make  unconscious decisions, based on emotions that someone else wanted to trigger in them.

When something has such a strong grip on us, we want to question it to make sure we are responding effectively in a way that support us and the others. The most important steps to deal with the information are:

  1. Notice you’ve been triggered
  2. Process your emotions
  3. Question your preconceptions

Notice you’ve been triggered

There are two primary ways to notice you’ve been triggered:

  1. You notice a distinct difference in your experience before and after reading or watching a piece of news. Before, you felt relaxed and happy. After, you became stressed and anxious. That is a warning signal that you’ve been triggered. It is sometimes hard to notice because we tend to forget how we felt just moments ago, the same way we forget our dreams when we wake up.
  1. You notice circular thoughts – your mind coming back again and again to the same image or idea you read or watched somewhere. You also notice there’s a tension in your body as a response to those thoughts.

Processe your emotions

Processing emotions is not the same as getting them under control or repressing them. Our emotions have a lot to tell us and we can find a lot of wisdom in them by listening deeply.

There are three steps to processing your emotions:

  1. To identify the emotion you first need to separate the story which I call “the trigger” from your feelings. Write down the new information that triggered you. What did you read or hear? Let’s say you read news article about a white bear dying because of icebergs that are melting at an accelerated rate. 
  1. Now find the emotion you experience about this story. We’re looking for one-word names of emotions: hopeless, scared, angry, devastated, guilty. Those are the emotions. Beware of phrases that begin with “I feel that” such as “I feel that we’re not doing enough” isn’t an emotion, it’s a thought.
  1. Now, put aside the story for a few minutes. Just be with your emotions as fully as you can. Take a deep breath and focus on the feeling the way it shows up in your body: the sensations, the temperature, the texture. You want to do that until your feelings don’t feel as strong and overwhelming. It can take a while if you’ve never done that before. The more you practice the easier it gets.

Becoming aware of your emotions and learning how to listen to them, will help you transform and dissipate them. You’ll be able to find your true self and connect with the wisdom that is beyond your intellect. You’ll be abel feel centred and safe, even if the news is really bad. You’ll be sure no one can trigger you or pull your strings.

Question your preconceptions

We all have our biases. When we hear something it either fits our current belief system or it doesn’t. If it does, most of us won’t question the new information. You’ll can notice that happening when hear yourself think “I knew it,” and “Oh, of course!” It might happen even as you are reading this article (which doesn’t make it true, only conforming to what you already believe about your mind).

To get a broader perspective, you only need to ask yourself two questions:

  1. Why do I believe this information to be true or false?
  2. What would it take to change my mind on this topic?

Try it on the following list of (completely made up) headlines. Which do you automatically believe and which do you discount? Why?

  1. Trump and Putin are planning a coup d’état in China
  2. Science confirms: Climate change is a hoax
  3. Meningitis vaccine officially proven to be harmful
  4. New study shows: Eating meat is essential for male mental well being

Questioning your preconceptions and beliefs is the real freedom. We all afraid of being manipulated and controlled. We all want to know the truth. However, in a post-truth world, the forces attempting to manipulate our opinions  on both sides of every major issue are very powerful. We don’t need to research every topic to death. But we do need to become aware of our automatic responses to be able to judge information clearly.

The more we question our beliefs and listen to our emotions, the more we’ll develop flexible thinking and deep awareness. We will then wake up from having fixed minds, from being sold on ideas, from being triggered and activated, from hating people that we don’t really know and have never met!

We will then wake up to the reality that each of us is part of the polarized mess we’re in, and stop reinforcing it.


If you liked this, follow me on Twitter. I teach people how to talk about hot topics without exploding or shutting down.

@yaelfiner

Why people don’t listen to facts?

When the Covid-19 pandemic started, I was in my last trimester with Yara, and I embraced the need to slow down. I couldn’t move so much anyways :).

The doubt I had about who is behind the pandemic and what are the ways governments deal with it was shoved down and pushed away by the need to be present and relaxed for the upcoming delivery.

Consciously and unconsciously I didn’t want to hear anything that would have taken me out of balance at that point in my life. I didn’t read what my friends sent me, I didn’t watch the videos and I even found ways to avoid seeing those friends. I was trying to protect myself, I wanted to stay relaxed. I wanted to keep my life as it was even with the new pandemic. I sensed the possibility of becoming anxious if I let myself dive deeply into the conspiracy rabbit-hole. I didn’t want to get a confirmation that there was evil in the world, this world I was somewhat guiltily bringing a new baby into. I avoided reading articles and talking to people that could open that anxiety Pandora’s box in me.

I don’t know if the various conspiracy theories are true or not. It’s not what I want to talk about here. I want to talk about why I wasn’t open to looking at this, why I was avoiding that information and those people. And what it did to me.

Since we are all human beings and share similar emotional experiences, we can extract the essence from that example: I sensed danger to my emotional well being, therefore, I pushed away information. I did that by avoiding reading about it or talking to people who held strong opinions. I was avoiding the people that I normally love. That is how the deepest gaps in our society form.

So, why don’t people listen to facts?

People don’t listen to what you have to say and to your facts when they sense that their emotional well being might be at risk. When they sense danger. When they feel they might lose their peace of mind and become anxious. When they believe you’re about to take them out of their comfort zone. So they put their defences up. You can see it in their faces which becomes either dismissive, cynical or aggressive. And they attack with their own set of facts, which they believe as much as you do yours.

If you look inside yourself, you might be able to see that you do that too when they present their facts. You find it very hard to listen, you believe they are wrong, and it makes no sense for you to listen to what they have to say. You have lots of justification for that, you don’t want to waste your time and energy on “bulshit”. Sounds familiar? This is your defence mechanism. It’s the same as theirs, but with a different (and being my readers, likely better founded) set of facts and conclusions.

And so, one defence mechanism meets another defence mechanism and we get arguments, hate, distrust, avoidance and, indeed, war.

How can we get them to listen?

If you want them to listen, you have to be the one who listens first. And it’s going to be as hard for you to listen to them as it is for them to listen to you because you are going to be putting your own emotional well being at risk. You are going to expose yourself to potentially convincing arguments without setting up defences, without planning a response. You’re going to feel vulnerable, exposed, possibly lonely. Your ground might shake, and so may your hands. I do this for a living, trust me, it is not pleasant. But while it isn’t pleasant, it is exceedingly effective. If you really listen, and I’ll teach you how to do it in a moment, they will eventually run out of things to say. They will feel complete, and in feeling complete they will be open to your arguments. Even better, you will now understand their entire strategic arsenal of facts and arguments and will be able to respond effectively.

How can we listen well?

Begin the conversation by exposing your vulnerability.

“You know dad, I never really listened to you, and I’m sorry. This conflict we have is my fault too. I want to listen to you. I want to get to know you. Please be honest with me, tell me everything, I promise to listen this time.”

At this point, they are going to start talking and you are going to want to roll your eyes. Notice your internal reaction. Notice the need to react, to dismiss, to argue back rising within you. Notice yourself being triggered and planning a response. Notice, but keep your mouth shut and keep breathing. Because noticing what is happening within you is while listening to them make you a better listener. 

Expect to feel overwhelmed by their energy, your resistance and the new information. That’s OK. You can ask for a moment to process what they’ve said so far.

“Dad, can you give me a moment, please? You’ve said a lot and I need to process it.”

This both gives you time to ground yourself and shows respect for them.

If they pause, don’t jump in, just ask if they have more to say on this. Do your best to avoid asking questions, because your questions will likely be loaded and ineffective.

Once they have fully expressed themselves, they’ll have the space to listen to you. You can now say your piece, or just give them a loving hug.


If you liked this, follow me on Twitter. I teach people how to talk about hot topics without exploding or shutting down.

@yaelfiner