the nest

the nest

Friday, October 20, 2017

Deep breaths...

For much of the past year, I've felt like we were living in some bizarre reality show. There have been times when I've seriously thought that life in the time of Trump has just been some crazy social experiment to see what people would do when faced with an insane leader.
Unfortunately, it is what it is. I have spent hours raging against the complete and utter idiocy of 45 and those who support him. I've despaired over the increasingly loud voices of those who hate and ridicule and blame people different from them for the crappy state of their life. The amount of energy that I (and so many of you!) have spent trying to keep up with the tweets and temper tantrums and lies is overwhelming.

Today while scrolling through Facebook I came across the following article How to Stay Sane if Trump is Driving you Insane: Advice from a Therapist. It was just what I needed to read this morning.
Using the therapeutic method of DBT (Dialectical Behavioral Therapy), the author, Robin Chancer, takes us through the following steps;

1) Radical Acceptance and Dialectical Thinking, and 
2) Attention is Everything.

Having had some exposure to DBT I am even more impressed with it's potential applications to everyday life!

Radical Acceptance - Coming to grips with the reality of what is and recognizing what we can and cannot change. While the reality is that 45 is currently the President and I can't do anything about that, I can support those who are attempting to hold him accountable for his actions and I can take action steps like calling my representatives and sharing my perspective with them. I can join in solidarity with my brothers and sisters when there are opportunities to protest. I can speak openly on social media and share information and perspectives that might help others stay informed. I cannot, however,  make anyone else change their minds

Dialectical Thinking - People are crazy complex! We are both good and bad, selfish and selfless. It can be so easy to paint others as "bad" or "wrong" but in reality, they are people like us. As much as I would like to suggest that 45 is evil incarnate, he is human and just might have some redeeming qualities. I don't know what they are, but it does me no good to refuse to acknowledge his humanity. It's also true that while we might work for good, there is no guarantee that our efforts will pay off. We might campaign for reasonable gun control, but because of factors out of our current control, we don't get the result we want. We can stomp and pound and pull our hair out, but sometimes, no matter how hard we try, we will not be successful.
Finally, we are responsible for our world! We can say "God has a plan," or "everything works out in the end," or "you can't change fate," but the truth is, we are responsible. I sometimes think of the idea that we are "God's hands." Whatever you believe, we must take an active role in creating the world we want to live in and leave to our children. While we cannot control others, we can control ourselves and how we interact with and contribute to humanity.

Attention is Everything - Mindfulness. The author describes this as "the art of shifting attention." I love that! If my attention is completely focused on the ways that the world is falling apart, I'm ignoring the unbelievable beauty that is out there! While our current leaders are failing to accomplish much of anything, and there seems to be an increase in racist, nationalistic, misogynistic behavior, there is also a dramatic uptick in giving, protesting, sharing and defending. #metoo has brought about a flood of stories from women of all ages and the Pandora's Box that is the shame we feel around sexual harassment and assault might never be closed again. Re-directing our attention away from the horrible things that are happening won't make them go away, but neither will staying obsessively focused on them. Shining a light on the positive things happening brings attention where attention is due. The more we support and share those "good" things we see and hear, the better we feel and the more we can impact on the world in a positive way. We become proactive rather than reactive.

It can be so easy to feel hopeless and helpless. On a personal level I can get sucked in so quickly to all of the YUCK. When I pull myself out of the pit and remember a few simple things, I find the sun is brighter and the world is better.

1) I cannot control anything other than myself and my actions.

2) People are inherently good and at the same time we are all flawed.

3) I have a responsibility to play my part in this world we live in. 
           I AM NOT responsible for anyone else's happiness or success.

4) Focusing my attention on the positive actions of myself and others is always more powerful 
            that focusing it on the negative. 

5) The more the darkness intrudes the brighter I will shine my light.

Read the whole article if you like. It really is powerful. If you find yourself wallowing, consider thinking through the ideas above and see if you feel differently. I did.