Cartoons: my coping mechanism

Have you ever heard the saying "If you can't change a situation, change yourself?" 

To be more accurate the quote is "When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves." In Man's Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl, the Austrian neurologist and holocaust survivor also writes "Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms - to change one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way." 

I think what he was saying is that there are times when we can't control the situation we're in, and it's natural to feel sad, lost, or even hopeless, but there's still one thing we have some control over, we can find freedom in how we handle the situation and what our attitudes are while we're in it. 

It can be a coping mechanism to help get us through difficult times or situations we have little control over.

It's easier said than done though. We can't just snap our fingers and magically feel safe and sound, it takes some effort. I don't know about you but when I'm feeling down I don't have much energy to put into anything, much less trying to think of ways to get out of my funk. 

That's why a few years ago I slowly started putting together some go-to's so that when I'm feeling things are out of control, or having an off day, I have a box of goodies to pull from and it takes little effort to do so. 

At the top of this list for me is cartoons. Yep, cartoons. 

Sometimes they're cartoons I remember from my childhood like Bobby's World, Talespin, Tiny Toon Adventures, Darkwing Duck, Gargoyles, Doug, Rugrats, and Ahhh Real Monsters!, sometimes they're cartoons I never really stopped watching like The Simpsons and South Park, and lately I've fallen in love with some new series like Midnight Gospel, Adventure Time, Steven Universe, Bravest Warriors, and Bee and Puppycat. 

What I find cartoons do particularly well is take abstract emotional and cultural concepts and present them in a way that makes them feel easy. 

Themes that often appear in cartoons and especially some of the more recent shows I've developed a fondness for are community, relationships, family, good v evil, being okay with being different, and that ultimately the sun will come out tomorrow and there will be another day. 

I mean, I could write a book on all the life lessons and wisdom I've received from cartoons, truly. 

For myself, I have a specific cartoon for each mood. For example when I'm sick, like when I had a kidney infection last year or severe bronchitis and asthma the year before, I watched Steven Universe. 

When I'm feeling lonely or down I watch Adventure Time or Bravest Warriors, or when I'm feeling like an outsider or I'm too "out there" I watch Bee and Puppycat or Midnight Gospel, and if I just want a good laugh Rick and Morty always hits the spot.

I've cried many tears watching these cartoons and have felt seen, held and loved. It's self care for me, on an emotional and spiritual level. 

While this has been an excellent method for me in my bag of go-to goodies for down days, I fully realize they're not "for" everyone. I would still encourage you to give them a shot, you might be surprised, just start with the last one you can remember liking and go from there. 

Give your inner child a chance to show up and embrace them fiercely. 

After giving some toon time a shot, if you find that they're just not doing it for you, keep searching for what does, and create your own go-to goody bag for down days, there's never been a better time for it than now. 

There's a lot going on in the world right now, and it's easy to get lost in it. It's important that we be mindful of what we take in and remember to breathe once in a while. 

A shift in perspective and attitude, even if just for a little while can go a very long way in helping us to get through another day. 

Here's a few tips to help get you curious about what your go-to goodies could be :

  • What gave you happiness as a child/teenager/young adult? Music? Dancing? Art? Reading? Movies? Shows? Fashion? Playing a sport ?

  • What was true then is likely true now! 

  • It's okay to feel a little strange picking back up where you may have left off so long ago, but keep with it! 

  • Don't judge yourself for taking care of you, self care is not immature.

I'd really love to hear what some of your go-to's are! Self care is so important right now and whatever it looks like for you doesn't matter as long as it feeds you and lifts you up out of the fog! 


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