Stage 2, stage 4, stage 2, no sorry stage 4, oh so, so sorry - stage 6!! Stage 6!? You have got to be kidding! Eyerolls, several expletives, and a smack on the table.
For those of you that do not live in South Africa, we have one electrical utility company, Eskom. For a variety of reasons it cannot provide enough power to the country, hence we have what’s known as load shedding. The various stages denote how often and for how long our suburbs will be without power.
Someone really clever posted this on Twitter at the announcement:
- Stage 1 — denial
- Stage 2 — anger
- Stage 3 — bargaining
- Stage 4 — depression
- Stage 5 — acceptance
- Stage 6 — ???
What is stage 6?
Exactly what is Stage 6? Resistance? Passive-aggression? Dejection? How did you feel getting that Stage 6 announcement? As the dark news hammered down Chantal could feel the ire rise, hot and salty, from her stomach. It made her ears ring and her nostrils flare. Like Rage. Stage six is Rage.
Matthew, in the meantime, seemingly undisturbed, scrolled through his apps to see the “official” announcement from Eskom. Let’s rub it in, shall we?
“Just leave it,” muttered Chantal through gritted teeth, “It makes no difference what the reason is. It doesn’t change anything.”
“You’re right,” he said, “Let’s do a Wordle,” and he thumbed to the grid lined page.
“Angry” said Chantal for the first word. ‘Rage’ does not have five letters.
Celebrating another friend’s birthday by candlelight
Are you green too?
It is a very uncomfortable feeling, this lack of agency, this inability to meaningfully do anything to change the situation. Having no control, being swept away on the whims of a collapsing utility service and an incompetant government. That increasing level of discomfort caused by the acute non-delivery, the very dark, non-lit up anything, makes one want to scream and thrash and hit someone or something. Hard. Ragefully. Like that hulking green Marvel character.
The itchy and scratchiness of the situation is visible on the roads with even higher levels of impatience, lack of consideration for others and a tunnel visioned drive to do and get and go. Shove, push, hoot, the desire to ride that slowpoke over.
So it was with some irony that the focus for our podcast this week was on peace. Peace, in this instance, is not just an absence of war, it is about making peace with those you are in conflict with and more importantly making peace with ourselves.
So how exactly does one, in the face of this on again - off-again - off again - off again - on again, oh sorry, off again, fiasco remain internally at peace? Feeling rageful is not resourceful, especially when there is no outlet. Raging at an electricity non-entity is wasted energy and we need all the energy we can muster right now, excuse the pun.
The first step is to go back to Stage 5 - Acceptance. In this case accepting what is. This is not easy. Feel that pull in your gut? That jaw clenching? That’s resistance, the opposite of acceptance. Acceptance is a letting go. Let it go. Breathe in and sigh it out. Deeply. Ah, that feels better already.
Sage flowers in our herb garden
Accept what is
Acceptance does not mean giving up, agreeing with mediocrity, or complacency. It means choosing a response that acknowledges the outrage felt but does not become immersed in it, does not align with it and embrace it so that it governs behaviour and outlook. Afterall, the utility company, government, and traffic doesn’t care.
Feeling more accepting now, does not mean we won’t have the power rug pulled from under us at a later stage (8?? - don’t even think about it!). It will be another opportunity to come back, remember and find the road to acceptance again and again and again.
Is this acceptance and love embodied?
Love is the answer
In addition, and more importantly, we are reminded by the words of Martin Luther King Jnr from his Nobel Peace Prize acceptance address in 1964:
“Mankind must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression, and retaliation. The foundation of such a method is love.”
The foundation is love. It’s love that pricks the bubble of the green overblown monster in all of us. It reminds us of what is really important. Fostering acceptance in ourselves and acting from a place of love brings peace. Firstly to ourselves and then to others. And, afterall, this is a much needed quality on our planet right now.
Until next time.
Yours in feeling,
Chantal & Matthew
About the author
5th Place offers specialised psychological services in the form of coaching and therapy for immediate relief from stress, anxiety, & other mental health challenges. It works fast, deep and quick. For individuals and groups, children, teens and adults.