By Michael Kimmel | Life Beyond Therapy
Well, it’s March now, not even two months into the Trump administration, and I still hear comments like this from my clients:
“I have stopped reading the news. I don’t want to know the latest awfulness to come out of Trump’s mouth.”
“I dread hearing about what his latest cabinet appointee has said or done. For us LGBTers, it seems like it’s only gonna get worse.”
And today a client told me:
“I still feel so stressed out and anxious about Trump. There is just so much weird shit coming from his administration. Even though I’m an American citizen [she was born outside the U.S.], I ‘m actually afraid to travel back home.”
What do we do about all this trauma and upset? How do we live with such uncertainty?
We can focus on empowerment, collaboration and resiliency. That’s what this column is about.
How can you feel empowered in this era of national dis-empowerment?
- Take action, no matter the form, and put forward what you believe in: volunteer, give money, or use social media to advocate for what is important to you.
- Contact your elected officials and let them know what you want them to do: emails, phone calls, let these people hear from you (and please do it respectfully). As Michelle Obama put it, “When they go low, we go high.” Words to live by.
- Do things that remind you of the good things in life: don’t let fear consumeyour life.
- Find ways to accept all the uncertainty in the world right now; admit that you are powerless to control much of what goes on out there. Find ways to be at peace with that. Do what you can to affect change and then do what you can to find some inner peace. Real strength is about accepting this. 12-step folks know this; they admit that they are powerless in certain situations. You don’t need to surrender to a “higher power,” but it will benefit you to explore and discover ways to find an inner peace, one that is independent of external conditions (like awful presidents).
- Explore constructive ways to release your emotions.I don’t know about you, but lately, when I meditate, I find myself weeping; seemingly, for no conscious reason. I think my subconscious is just so unhappy and frustrated with the Trump administration that it needs to let it out. I also find myself more easily angered and annoyed. I’m working with that one by being more physical: hiking, walking, gardening, yoga and going to the gym. I am also a big fan of hitting pillows to release my frustrations and yelling in the car (windows up, of course) or into pillows at home (so I don’t scare the cats) to release my anger.
- Get support from friends, therapists, ministers, wise elders and family members. Work together with colleagues and comrades for common causes.
- Don’t be a lone ranger. In these troubled times, we need to know that we’re not alone and that our reactions to the madness in the world are normal ones. Many of my clients say stuff like, “Am I the only one who feels like this world is going to hell?” or “Are other people as scared about what Trump will do as I am?” Granted, not everyone is scared and unhappy (yes, I do know some Trump supporters), but many of us are and it helps to know we’re not alone.
- Avoid the temptation to play “Ain’t it awful?” It sounds like fun, when you’re with your friends, to complain ad nauseum about the latest idiocy from the Trump administration. Unfortunately, it doesn’t help (okay, maybe a brief recitation of the latest evil, but then shift your focus) because playing “ain’t it awful?” only makes you feel worse. Turn your unhappiness into action and be part of a solution. It’s very good for your psyche (and your life).
Please remember that all this trauma and upset will, eventually, pass. We’ve lived through awful presidents before and come out smarter and stronger. In the meanwhile, let’s focus on empowerment, collaboration and resiliency; doing so will bring about a better day … and much more quickly and peacefully.
—Michael Kimmel is a licensed psychotherapist who specializes in helping LGBT clients achieve their goals and deal with anxiety, depression, grief, sexually addictive behavior, coming out, relationship challenges and homophobia. Contact him at 619-955-3311 or visit lifebeyondtherapy.com.