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Wow, if there is one thing that is uncommon these days, it’s common sense. I’ve believed this for many years but 2020 has taken it off the charts for sure.

After decades of programming on TV (there’s a reason they call it that, you know) most people believe what they do because they saw it on TV or because the message has been manipulated, packaged and repeated over and over until it becomes reality. Too few of us ever stop to think or question the narratives that are out there.

Dictionary.com defines common sense as follows:

Sound practical judgment that is independent of specialized knowledge,
training, or the like; normal native intelligence.

In short that means the ability to evaluate things effectively, not based on programming, advertising or even the so-called “experts.” If we’ve learned anything from this COVID phenomenon is that the “experts” seem to change like the wind and many cite only their opinions with no real science or data to back them up. And too often those opinions actually defy common sense.

Over and over we see the “experts” causing more harm than good. Just stay up late and watch some TV and see how many class action lawsuits you can join against big Pharma. Many of those things sold to us as safe and even miraculous are often debunked later on, after much harm has been done and lives lost or destroyed. We need to learn to think more critically, do our own research and listen to our inner voice to guide us.

Emotions can especially get in the way of common sense…and in fact, those who seek to manipulate us use our emotions to do just that. Fear, anger, loneliness, vanity, and pride leave us vulnerable and can make us leave common sense at the door. Too many people wind up in destructive relationships where the red flags were obvious to anyone whose emotions were not involved.

We’re living in an unprecedented time. A time when mass media and the internet are in every home and every pocket. Discerning truth from lies becomes very difficult when we are constantly bombarded by propaganda and nefarious agendas.

Now, my intention here is not to be overly negative. The truth is that we do have defenses against this manipulation and we need to return to common sense in order to defend ourselves and our loved ones.

Here are a few suggestions:

Silencio!

Jesus often left the disciples and went off to a quiet place to pray. Follow His example. Get away by yourself, be quiet and pray. Silence truly is golden. God whispers in our hearts…He rarely shouts. And even when He does seem to shout, by being constantly connected and in the noise, we usually can’t hear Him. Quiet down.

Tune into your emotions

What exactly are you feeling at any given time? Again, you need to spend some time in silence to get in touch with what you’re feeling. Are you feeling fearful? Sadly, most people are these days- it’s been a very difficult year so far. Identify all of your feelings and fears. Write them down.

Identify your thoughts

Emotions and thoughts are two different animals. But they can seem hard to distinguish at times. Feelings (aka emotions) arise spontaneously in response to events and other stimuli. Thoughts then follow to make sense of the emotions. Once those thoughts are formed they can often spark new emotions or reinforce the original ones.

This is important to understand: Sometimes our thoughts are not accurate. They’re driven by emotion. And emotions can be so strong they can distort the reality that we see.

Talk to someone!

As you go through this process, it helps to talk to someone you trust who is objective. Share your heart- what you’re feeling and what you’re thinking. Then listen. What are their observations? Is there perhaps another way of looking at the situation? Are your emotions getting the better of you? What are the actual facts?

As the world continues in chaos, it’s more important than ever that you think and get back to using common sense. No matter who the expert is, ask questions and don’t accept anything at face value. Unfortunately many are profiting by making us fearful…and many are gaining control as we allow our fear to cede our freedoms. Is all of the “advice” we’re being given even making any actual sense? It’s for you to decide, but you need to question, be silent and think.

Folks, God is still in control. He is perfect love…and that perfect love casts out all fear. If you’ve been away from the sacraments, if you find your anger getting the better of you lately (real easy to do!), get to confession and make a commitment to prayer and silence. Disconnect on a regular basis from the internet and social media. Believe it or not, we all survived before Facebook. We even had friends! Are those Facebook “friends” really friends? Again, think. Be silent. Pray. And most importantly, listen to your inner voice where common sense lives.

Allison Ricciardi, LMHC
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