A pendulum is a wonderful metaphor for life’s ebbs and flows. Whether the historical shifts are within culture and society, or within one’s own life, understanding what I call the “pendulum effect” will help you understand what is occurring at any given moment in your life or throughout the world.
pen·du·lum/ˈpenjələm/noun: pendulum; plural noun: pendulums
- a weight hung from a fixed point so that it can swing freely backward and forward, especially a rod with a weight at the end that regulates the mechanism of a clock.
o used to refer to the tendency of a situation to oscillate between one extreme and another.
Most people would be able to describe what a pendulum looks like as outlined in the primary definition above. For our purposes, however, let us focus on the secondary one. You can see the effect of that “pendulum effect” throughout history.
When an issue (or pendulum) has been historically so over-weighted or out-of-balance in one direction for so long, the swing the other way can often be similarly extreme. Because most of the time, most people are not directly involved with what can seem like a seismic shift, it is frequently viewed by a majority as off-putting, disturbing and stressful as fuck.
As pointed out here before, we know the #1 cause of stress is change. Even good or necessary change produces stress. The more dramatic the change, the more impactful the stress. And if the change comes quickly, this can absolutely freak people out.
Remember, though, knowledge is empowering. Being knowledgeable about and aware of what is happening will assist you in effectively managing change’s corresponding stress.
The change in our lives due to the virus and the lock down is a great case in point. This came on us so quickly and with such major changes, the thought of it all would have been almost unfathomable at the beginning of 2020. But we all have experienced it. So, we know it actually did occur and happened that quickly.
Right now there would be summer festivals and concerts in full swing. The baseball season would be nearing the All-Star break. We would have seen new NHL and NBA champions already crowned. People would be enjoying lovely outdoor weddings and group outings, annual features of the season. Not this year. This has been a major shift for our society.
Reports of depression, suicidal ideation, drug and alcohol abuse, obesity, diabetes, domestic violence and a general malaise have been on the rise. These are the results of folks’ lack of knowledge and proactivity about stress coping strategies. Whether or not the shutdown was necessary or handled effectively by those in leadership is not part of the scope of this G-Spot.
However, the incredible swing which took place and how people are handling it certainly are part of this piece.
Having written that, there are definitely shifts in life’s various pendulums which ARE necessary and important to note.
Since time immemorial, women, people of color and the LBGTQ community were almost universally treated as second class citizens, to say the least. They have been property, slaves and subjects of derision and genocide. This went on for tens of thousands of years of recorded history. Then slowly but surely, and in a more expedited way in the last 150 years ago, the heinous nature of not seeing all humans as, well, human started dawning on humanity.
Throughout the millennia, society’s pendulum was so extreme to the one side, the response to these movements of equal rights breaking through often resulted in actions many would describe as extreme as well.
In the U.S., the 400 years of slavery was “balanced” by a four year civil war which cost over 600,000 lives and is still being felt today reflected in the Black Lives Matter movement and some of the corresponding violence.
Women finally being recognized as equal resulted (in what some would consider) extreme positions to the point of some saying “all intercourse between men and women is rape”. That’s seems pretty extreme, doesn’t it? Some feel the #MeToo Movement, in response to historic misogyny, went too far. Many of its supporters said that not only should all women be heard, but all women should be believed regardless if there was evidence to the allegations they were leveling or not.
LGBTQ folk’s ability to live open and equal lives were a long time coming, too. Their public expression of their new-found freedom in Pride Parades, which some in society find over-the-top, is nonetheless part of the pendulum process on this pivotal issue. LGBTQ people were closeted for so long, that when they were finally able to come out, they have done it loud and proud.
When people are morbidly obese or drug and alcohol addicted, they often have to go on strict diet regimens and detox programs to save their lives. They go from consuming anything and everything they want to extreme deprivation protocols. Are the shifts from one extreme to another, whether it is worldwide or in our own individual lives, necessary? Perhaps.
Whether they are or not is moot. When a pendulum is way over on the one side, it MUST shift all the way over to the other side to eventually come to center or balance.
In the final analysis, isn’t that what we all want in our lives and in the world, balance?
Change is constant. Pendulum swings will happen.
As they do, focus on your stress management techniques and enjoy the ride!