When Kakistocracy Takes Up All the Brain Space

Image Description: A brain inside a lightbulb, like a new idea.

Do you know this word – Kakistocracy?

According to a quick Google search, it means a state or country run by the worst, least qualified, or most unscrupulous citizens. It is a reality where the worst actors have a huge amount of power.

This week, I’ve been thinking about Kakistocracy – certainly in the government and news cycle, but also in my brain space. Over the last four years, there have been occasional hours and days at a time when it seems like my brain continually gravitates to thinking about this and only this. There are times when I’ve slept through the night, but meanwhile, my brain has been processing this and only this.

It’s not always like that, but that happens.

I know I am not alone in this experience. Given what’s happening, this is natural. And while it’s certainly challenging, I think we all should feel our way through what’s happening because that’s a crucial part of solidarity. Some of us have the privilege checking out while others have been feeling this way much longer. Some can’t afford to check out because it could be costly to let their guard down. We need to feel these moments  alongside others.

That needs to be said and upheld as a commitment. But I also know that thinking about this constantly can be harmful, not only because it is challenging and gives it greater ultimacy, but because it zaps our energy for acting.

It’s hard to resist Kakistocracy when Kakistocracy is internalized. It’s hard to continue pushing forward in our important, creative work when our thinking patterns additionally feel invaded and oppressed. It’s hard to include others in solidarity if we find ourselves feeling pain in solitude.

So if you’re feeling this way – grace, grace, grace. 

And if you’re trying to shift these thinking patterns – grace, grace, grace. 

It’s not easy, and don’t beat yourself up if it doesn’t shift quickly.

As I’ve heard from others, this is clear as well:

The actions and inactions of our government, along with the news cycle surrounding them, have also brought up resonances with some of the worst actors from other periods of our lives. Our ruminating thoughts might additionally be our bodies processing these other actors and chapters as well.

So grace, grace, grace.

What’s helpful for you?

Perhaps talk with a therapist or spiritual director. Make art. Take walks. Pray. Set good intentions. Keep connecting with loved ones. Sing joyfully in the shower. Love the work we are empowered to do. Continue to have dreams for our communities and for our own lives. Talk to a friend about the brain space. Know that you’re loved.

And practice mindfulness. When we get in these ruminating patterns, it can be helpful to say, “Okay, for x amount of time, I am only going to think about what is presently in front of me.” Then practice presence. And when we find ourselves moving away again, we just gently bring ourselves back.

again, again, again.

grace, grace, grace.

– Renee Roederer

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