Waking up this morning, just two days into the post-election experience, we find great pain, fear, anger and disappointment in our country and in our world.
The bullying, blame and intimidation that was displayed so frequently on the Republican campaign stage has terrified many people who fear that it will grow.
This is not idle speculation or theory. It already has been happening.
We’re hearing and reading reports of cruel incidents that are happening in schools, businesses and on the streets by people who are emboldened -- in the last few days, people in our country have been screamed at, cursed at, called names, derided, mocked, grabbed by the breasts and threatened on social media.
Here are a few of the reports. Caution – before you click, know that many of their stories are ugly and nasty, so know that you have to choice to click away if they are too triggering for you.
Now, this brings a challenge and an invitation for those of us who are healers and those of us who are not. As a psychotherapist and as a person who believes in the inherent worth and dignity of every human person, I ask you:
What do you have to contribute to the healing of our communities, our nation, our world?
Here are some actions that we can take:
- Welcome and experience all of your physical feelings and emotional responses, whatever they may be.
- Release your physical energy in safe ways – have a good cry. Sit in a study chair and stamp your feet – left, right, left, right. Play music, loudly, then softly. Go for a walk, to the gym or for a swim.
- Sit with something that is beautiful – your baby, a kitten, a puppy, a flower, a picture of your grandparents. Allow yourself to take in the beauty of the moment.
- Say or create a prayer for strength within yourself to address what comes forward.
The more that you show up for yourself, the more you will be able to be present to help other people in the most effective way. Truth is, if we are honest with ourselves, we all have an inner “judge,” and we all must consciously and diligently work to acknowledge and work with this part of ourselves so it does not poison our relationships and our own being. Truly, how we respond under adversity says a lot about the nature of our character.
On Election Day night, I posted a message on my Facebook page stating that we, whether we are therapists or not, have much healing work to do.
One of my friends asked, “How?”
Feeling not very much like a guru but knowing some things about personal and social trauma, I replied that “I am hoping that we can all answer it together, bit by bit and peace by peace.”
It’s important to remember three things:
- Any thought or action, no matter how small or big, that supports and uplifts ourselves and others is healing.
- We must prepare ourselves to speak up firmly and respectfully when there is abuse, bullying and blaming. Often, our first reaction is to turn away and to minimize the abuse; at other times, we may respond in kind which escalates the situation in unhealthy ways.
- When we come together with others, we feel more connected and less isolated. This is a good time to join with others, on social media and in our churches, schools, homes, community centers, 12-step support groups, online forums and the like. Use these places not to commiserate or act like a victim – or bash people who are not like you – but to feel connected and have a place to sort through options and actions.
Yet we must find those places where we can feel included, and we must be those people who include.
I belong to a private online group that gives space to share thoughts and feelings about the election. Just today, a woman was seeking advice about how to respond to an incident of name calling. Members offered an amazing amount of feedback on how she might safely proceed.
So, we will continue this work in progress, and we will keep learning how to be loving and caring and respectful and inclusive, even when it is challenging. It is what will save us all.