• What Can I Do To Manage My Feelings in This Chaotic World of Political Change?

    February 17, 2017 | Jodi
  • I couldn’t help but notice the increased traffic through my office toward the end of 2016. November and December have traditionally been fairly quiet for my practice. Not in 2016. Was it a coincidence, or was my popularity a result of more people dealing with so many mixed emotions, some of which may have been due to the outcome of the 2016 election?

    I can’t know for sure. What I do know is that several people have asked me, “How do I manage these feelings for the next four years?” At the very least, there seems to have been a shift away from what was once considered “political correctness.” Political correctness has lost it’s hold. There are those among us who seem to believe political correctness is part of the problem. It is far more “in vogue” to speak one’s mind, regardless of the fallout. Is social media to blame, at least in part, for the free-flowing voicing of all thoughts, whether hurtful, deceptive, or inflammatory? I can’t know for sure, but it is certainly a readily available forum for any and all to say what they please, virtually free from restriction or censorship.

    While it is absolutely the right and privilege of all Americans to freely express their thoughts, it is also our right, privilege, and responsibility to manage or limit our exposure to the stream of free speech from those around us. I believe many goodhearted folks are alarmed at the apparent increase in hate and aggression in recent times. Just as many of us opt to apply sunscreen to avoid the damaging rays of the sun from causing lasting skin damage, I suggest applying “rhetoric screen” to protect against lasting psyche damage.

    I’ve given a lot of thought to what might remedy the distress felt by so many. Here are a few suggestions –

    1) Limit exposure to social media. Many of us have incorporated some social media use into our daily routine. Ask yourself, “What am I really getting out of my time spent using social media?” Are you spending more time with friends and family? Or are you having fewer face-to-face interactions with them? I found social media showered my mind with negativity, fear, and outrage. I deactivated my account on 12/31/16 and haven’t missed it for a minute.

    2) Limit exposure to traditional media outlets. I’m not suggesting for a minute that we should isolate ourselves so we won’t know what is happening in current events. Rather, limit exposure. Read the paper. Watch a trusted news program. Listen to a trusted radio program. JUST NOT ALL OF THEM, ALL DAY LONG! When it gets to be overwhelming, listen to your favorite music, read a book, watch something entertaining, exercise!

    3) Choose a cause. Not everyone is meant to be an activist or a protester. But I imagine most of us can do something to make the world a better place. Volunteer doing something productive that has meaning for you. There is tremendous reward in doing for others. There is also ample opportunity to contribute financially to various causes if that moves you.

    4) Find some spiritual meaning. Ground yourself in your belief system. Now might be a great time to reintroduce yourself to your church, temple, synagogue, mosque or other place of worship. Perhaps you have always found solace in nature – walk through the woods, ski, look out the window for a few minutes. Meditate, practice yoga, write in your journal.

    5) Surround yourself with like-minded people. Find comfort with others who understand your struggles. Know that you are not alone.

    6) Be kind. Go out of your way to model the behavior you would like to see in others. Hold open the door, smile and say “hello” to strangers, say “please” and “thank you.” Give little gifts to those you love, and maybe to those who need someone to love them. It is amazing how healing it can be to be kind to others and see others receive your kindness with surprise and gratitude.