I’m so grateful to Dr Linda Pettit who mentioned the 3U’s in a call I was on the other day and it inspired me to write a blog about them.
Whenever we feel Umbrage (usually towards a person) or Urgency – it’s just a sign that we’ve temporarily got caught up in our thinking. It’s a rumble strip. It’s not telling us anything about the situation out there, nor is it telling us anything about our true nature. It’s only telling us about our thinking in the moment – and that we’re a bit (or a lot!) revved-up.
I notice that whenever I settle down, come back ‘home’ and rest in that glorious peace, clarity, gratitude and connection in that place called Home, it’s actually impossible to feel UMBRAGE or URGENCY!
Yes, there are some situations that are time-dependent – like catching a train at a certain time. But the URGENCY we feel – harried, stressed, noisy – is all coming from thought in the moment, not the external world.
When we feel UMBRAGE, we have simply forgotten that everybody lives in a separate reality. Everybody is doing the best they can – given the thinking that looks real to them in that moment. In other words, it doesn’t look like thinking – it looks like reality and truth.
Levels of climate distress and eco-anxiety are rapidly increasing – especially amongst young people – according to the Climate Psychology Alliance and several other organisations.
I’m increasingly engaged in the work of supporting people who would describe themselves as suffering from climate grief or eco-anxiety, or struggling to come to terms with what this emergency means for them and those they love.
Some are activists engaged with Extinction Rebellion, some are members of the Positive Deep Adaptation Community. Some are leaders wishing to influence their companies and organisations. Some are community-builders involved in the Transition Town Network. Others are just going about their ‘normal lives’ but with mounting levels of anxiety about the future.
In 2009, I stumbled across a very simple understanding called the “Three Principles” about how the mind works and creates the human experience. The insights I gained from this changed everything for me, and underpins all the work I do with groups and individuals.
Seven Things that can really Help
1. Understanding the nature of Thought and the Human Experience
In a nutshell, the two most important things to see for yourself are firstly, that your mind only works one way – inside out, rather than outside-in. We are not directly experiencing life ‘out there’, our circumstances or life events. We are only ever experiencing thought about those things. Consciousness then brings that thinking to life, and we experience it in our mind and body. And it looks, sounds and feels 100% true — this is our reality.
I love the true story of a cellist who lived in Sarajevo during the war. Apparently, he insisted on going into the main square of the town where he lived and playing his cello, against the backdrop of bombs falling. A curious reporter asked him
“Are you mad? Why are you out here in the plaza playing music whilst they’re bombing?” and the cellist replied “Why are they bombing when I’m out here playing music?”
What we bring to a situation in terms of our story makes all the difference.
I recently watched an interesting interview with John Bell, a Dharma teacher, who listed a dozen or more narratives, or viewpoints that it’s possible to have about the predicament we find ourselves in.
(The Poetry of Predicament with John Bell “Right Living in a Time of Collapse – A Dharma Teacher’s Perspective https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fy21i3KKyhA&t=2119s )
These narratives are incredibly important to understand – both in ourselves and in others. The narrative you have predicts almost everything else – how optimistic or hopeless you are about the crisis, how much you engage with it, and how you engage with it if you do.