Month: November 2016

HOW TO COPE WITH POST-ELECTION STRESS, FEAR & FEELINGS OF POWERLESSNESS

HOW TO COPE WITH POST-ELECTION STRESS, FEAR & FEELINGS OF POWERLESSNESS

Many of us are feeling enormous stress in the aftermath of the election. The whole mess has reminded me, once again, of the importance of incorporating stress-reduction practices into our lives.  I don’t know about you, but when I’m feeling good, balanced, calm and enjoying life,  I tend to let these practices slide. Life, however, is uncertain. We never know what is around the corner. Planning, thinking and preparing does little to help us when life takes a sudden left turn, or is it right. What we need then is inner strength and resilience.

DEVELOP RESILIENCE

stressResilience, the ability to recover quickly from setbacks, a kind of inner toughness, is developed over time through regular self-care practices.  It is the thing that will and does see us through difficult times. Many of us have less resilience than we need. When challenges come our way and we are undone by them, falling into acute anxiety, illness, depression or PTSD, it’s time to amp up our self-care routine.

We can’t stop life, nor can we insulate ourselves from life altering challenges. We can prepare ourselves to meet those challenges and listen to what our reaction is telling us. Daily grounding, stress-reduction practices can, and does, help us develop resilience. Taking time each day to process life and to care for ourselves physically and emotionally strengthens us.

Rising anxiety, fear, panic and depression then become signals that we need to practice more self-care. Lying awake nights worrying about how to fix a problem is not an effective means of solving any problem. It’s a reaction. When we recognize this as a signal we can then bump up the amount of time we spend in meditation, solitude, journaling, or whatever practice we find grounding and healing.

PAUSE AND REWIND

As I push the pause button today and reflect on the past weeks and months leading up to the election, I realize now that I have been running on adrenaline. With each passing day, the cycle of anger, frustration and fear escalated a little more. Flinging obscenities at the TV became my favorite pastime. Sleep eluded me. My eating became erratic. My body was going into fight/flight/flee mode.

Awash with a growing sense of powerlessness, I felt as though I was battling my abuser. The election became very personal to me. In a very real sense I was. Determined not to accept that things could go anyway other than I wanted, or my abuser would win, I lived in a state of panic and unresolved conflict. I stopped taking time to down-regulate and care for myself. I was losing my perspective, and not seeing reality.

We can’t immerse ourselves in anxiety provoking situations again and again, without becoming depleted, or more anxious. The internet remains one of the biggest source of my own personal stress, as I imagine it is for many others.  I am still learning to manage it.  Being exposed to a stream of news and endless suffering stirs my desire to tend to those in need. I amp up my efforts to take care of the suffering and begin to neglect myself. When the need is too large, and nothing I do seems to help, I despair. We all have different triggers and knowing what they are is a part of developing resilience.

PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE

Practices that I find to be nurturing include silence, time alone, immersion in nature, meditation, reflective reading, walking, a simple, pure diet, essential oils, a relaxing hot bath, massage, and giving myself permission to disconnect from those in need. Staying connected with friends and loved ones, especially those who are supportive and understanding, reinforces my sense of well-being.

When we give ourselves permission to practice self-care every day, we not only feel better, we cope more effectively and are able to do more to remedy difficult situations.


Crystal Honeycutt and I are putting together a series of workshops to address the needs of people who are feeling the weight of stress and anxiety. They will be launched the first of the year, if not before. In a small online group setting, we will offer participants the tools needed to develop resilience and to take the next step in their journey toward health, body, mind and spirit. If you would like to be kept informed about the exact date and time of these workshops, please register below.

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If you are looking for an opportunity to connect with other tribe members, consider joining a small, private circle.  Contact me via email AgingAbundantly@gmail.com and I will add you to the list.

Truth ~ What Are We Fighting For?

Truth ~ What Are We Fighting For?

The value of truth seems to have lost its influence. 

The world keeps turning. I get up in the morning to the sun, and go to bed each night with the moon and the stars shining their light on my broken heart. The world is a “hot mess” as my young millennial friends would say.

Navigating life now is not an easy task! Walking the medial way, with one foot in the world and one foot in Spirit, isn’t easy to do under “normal” circumstances!  Now, it feels impossible, and yet it is certainly an excellent opportunity to practice! I, like many I talk to, long for simpler times.

SPEAKING THE TRUTH AS I SEE IT

What is the Truth?
I woke up this morning feeling exactly like Alice in Wonderland. ART BY: David Hoffrichter

I keep choosing, every day, to speak the truth as I see it; to ask the questions, explore the answers, look for what lies beneath the surface of things. Even as I try to be kind about it, not attacking or name calling, my words seem to cause sparks to fly.  People rant at me and call me names.

In the past week, I was called a bigot, a pseudo-intellectual, an irrational feminist, and a few other choices names I’d rather not repeat here.  The nastiest, meanest comments came from men, who I previously believed were highly rational, intelligent, educated men. The comments I received from women were angry and upset, more aimed at the belief that I should be taking about the politics on an aging site, nor should I take sides. I weigh this question constantly.

“JUST GET ALONG!”

The most common concern I’ve heard from women has been, “don’t you think you should play nice and just accept what is happening?” To this I say, yes and no.

Nothing infuriates me more than the part of our culture that wants us to get on board with the status quo. What we are experiencing right now IS NOT NORMAL. It is not business as usual, and I won’t pretend it is. I protested in the 60’s and my values with regard to peace, love and acceptance remain the same. I’ve never been a fan of the establishment, but this is going too far!

NAME CALLING HURTS!

It hurts being attacked.  Conflicting feelings rise to the surface, adrenaline pumps through my body and I’m suddenly in fight or flight mode. I want to lash out, and with my weapon of choice write an epistle explaining exactly how and why I am not what they say I am.  When I realize that more conversation would be pointless, I sink into despair. What am I to do with all these feelings now?

ASK THE HARD QUESTIONS

I have no choice but to go inside myself and ask the hard question. Are they right? Do their labels fit?

Am I a pseudo-intellectual?  I’ve never thought of my self as an intellectual, so that one was lost on me as a true reflection of myself. However, by asking the question I began to see the perpetrators projection. The particular label came from a man who, even at 16, took abundant pride in his intelligence. He believed his intellectual abilities made him superior. Sadly, all these years later when we reconnected I discovered that he has not grown past his arrogant, narcissist ways. He still needs to be intellectually superior, and when he feels threatened, he does what all great thinkers do, call people names.  I told him he was behaving exactly like the President-Elect, which he was. He didn’t like that a bit and unfriended me. I now consider it a victory to have stirred that particular pot!

A bigot – that one got me.  A bigot is “a person who is intolerant toward those holding different opinions” – this coming from a man who unfriended me because he didn’t like what I was saying on Facebook. Am I a bigot? We all have our blind spots so I’d have to say yes, I’m intolerant toward some who hold different opinions. Our president-elect would be one of them. Trust me, I am working on this. I long to find a place of acceptance that does not mean acquiescence.  Right now, I can’t see the divine in this man just yet. In fact, I tend to think he’s evil incarnate and see it as my job to speak out against him.

COMPASSION FOR ALL WHO HAVE BEEN & WILL BE DISAPPOINTED

Beyond that, I have deep compassion for the people who elected him believing he would change their unhappy lives. I have less compassion for the meanness and hatred that a few carry and choose present to the world. I want to say, show me your misery, this I can understand. But anger, rage, hubris, entitlement? And yet, tolerance is tolerance. I’m working on it.

Here’s what I do know. The women before us modeled tolerance and acceptance as a virtue, and to some extent it is.  They did not feel free, however, to rebel or speak up when perhaps they should have.  We feel freer to do so, and yet the past that lives on in us often keeps us feeling guilty and wrong when we do.

Making nice is not always possible, nor is it human. We have a wide array of thoughts, feelings and reactions. it is to our detriment to keep them buried. They will erupt when we least expect them to and it won’t be pretty.

THERE IS A TIME & A SEASON

There’s a time to fight and a time to stand down. There’s a time to speak and a time to be silent. We must each in our own way and find a balance between speaking our truth and taking time for deep reflection. None of us are totally clear on what we are fighting for. Those who are, seem to be fighting one particular battle. Maybe that’s the best any of us can do.

We must continue to ask ourselves challenging questions:

  • What am I really angry about?
  • Are there unacknowledged feelings and thoughts beneath my anger? Are the thoughts I’m thinking true?
  • This feeling of fear, what is it really trying to tell me?
  • When have I felt powerless before? How was that similar to what’s happening now?
  • Is this situation triggering feelings I’ve had all my life?
  • What are those feelings?
  • Can I be proactive in giving myself what it is I want from others?
  • Have I taken time to sit in silence?
  • Have I expressed my feelings honestly?
  • When I speak my truth am I using “I” statements?
As I navigate these strange times, I take comfort from the wisdom of great teachers.

“Wholeness is possible only through the coexistence of opposites. In order to know the light, we must experience the dark.” ~ Carl Jung, Memories, Dreams and Reflections

“Always go with the choice that scares you the most, because that is the one that is going to help you grow.” ~ Caroline Myss, Defying Gravity

“The beginning of love is the will to let those we love be perfectly themselves, the resolution not to twist them to fit our own image. If in loving them we do not love what they are, but only their potential likeness to ourselves, then we do not love them: we only love the reflection of ourselves we find in them”
Thomas Merton, No Man Is an Island

“If you have never been called a defiant, incorrigible, impossible woman. . .have faith. . . there is yet time.” ~ Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estés

“Doubt is not the opposite of faith; it is one element of faith.” ~ Paul Tillich, The Courage to Be

“We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.” ~ Elie Wiesel, Author of Night, Winner of the Nobel Peace Prize
“The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference.” ~ Elie Wiesel
“There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest.” ~ Elie Wiesel

HOW TO MANAGE YOUR FEAR & ANGER POST ELECTION

HOW TO MANAGE YOUR FEAR & ANGER POST ELECTION

Fear and AngerPanic, fear and anger are very normal responses to what has taken place over the last week (and months). Many of us feel threatened and angered by all that is happening. We are in hyper-reactivity mode and our emotions have been propelling us forward. Everywhere people are saying and doing things they would not ordinarily say or do.

This high adrenaline response (survival response) is a natural and normal biological response, programmed into our DNA, to give us the biological resources we need to keep ourselves and our loved ones safe in a threatening situation. It is not ALL that we are. Not by a long shot, and it’s important that we take time, now, to reconnect with the rational and more expansive aspects of our selves.

The threat seems immediate and our bodies are responding as if it is. But, it is not, at least for most of us. Our bodies don’t know this, and the adrenaline coursing through our veins is telling us to fight or flee when there’s nowhere to flee and no one to punch! We take this adrenaline to social media and pick fights with our words, or we bark at our kids or spouses. This doesn’t satisfy our bodies need for calm. In fact, it keeps us in a heightened state of reactivity and keeps the adrenaline flowing.

Our best course of action at this time is to do the opposite. It may feel counter intuitive, but we need to make a concerted effort to calm ourselves. Remaining in a hyper alert state for long periods of time is hard on our bodies and will ultimately drain our resources. We may need these resources down the road when a course of action becomes clear.

Now it behooves us to take a deep breath and do everything we can to find our center of calm. We think more clearly when we are calm. We act more carefully and intelligently when we are calm. During challenging times such as these, we need to think and act with the best of who we are, not in reaction to a set of circumstances that at this time is beyond our control. There will come a time for action. We will know it when it arrives. Today, taking care of ourselves and restoring our sense of security within ourselves is our job.

As we live out the coming months and years, our ability to be vigilant in our self-care, will allow us to stay the course. Establishing a sense of security and calm within ourselves provides an anchor that will help us ride out the storms.

In my experience this can be accomplished by engaging in any or all of these practices. You may have your own.

  • avoid unnecessary confrontation
  • decrease exposure to inflammatory rhetoric/media
  • disconnect entirely from the internet for a period of time
  •  limit news/TV/electronic devices
  • take several deep breaths periodically throughout the day – we tend to hold our breath and breath shallowly when we are tense; deep breathing actually activates calming mechanisms in our body.
  • moderate exercise – a brisk walk, swimming, dancing
  • spending time outdoors, preferably in a natural setting away from the hustle and bustle of every day life.
  • pets can be calming – take some time each day to cuddle with yours; no doubt they will be calmer as well!
  • eat healthfully and avoid alcohol and junk food (Adrenal Burnout Soup Recipe)
  • get lots of sleep (even if you need a little help to do so for a while)
  • spend time with people who are calm and with whom you feel safe;
  • avoid those who don’t (it doesn’t mean you have to stop loving them!)
  • soak in a hot tub
  • use essential oils in a diffuser or sprinkle on a cotton ball and carry in your pocket
  • meditate/pray
  • practice mindfulness
  • body work/massage/
  • read positive, reflective literature
  • tune into yourself in silence; heart/mind/body/soul
  • Listen to and follow your intuition

We will get through this together.  Dorothy


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A RENDEVOUS WITH DESTINY: The U.S. Election

A RENDEVOUS WITH DESTINY: The U.S. Election

us election 2016We are coming face to face with our history and our destiny. This morning I attempted to put thoughts about the election into words. This is a turning point for us as a nation. I feel it. I sense it. I pray we chose the light.

Here’s what I wrote on Facebook:

My first election vote was cast in the McGovern vs. Nixon race in 1972. Focused on my own young life, I didn’t take time to read much about the political stance of either candidate. I did, however, use my intuition and my senses, as I watched the candidates speak and interact, to determine who I believed had the strength of character to further our country’s values.

I voted for McGovern. Even at that young age I sensed Nixon’s underlying character flaws just bey watching him. History revealed the true results of that election in this regard. Did my vote count? It’s easy to jump to the conclusion that it did not, and perhaps it didn’t. Not everyone sees what we see, but we must never stop fighting for what we believe.

This election is by far the most unusual in my life time. For the first time, we have chosen a candidate to run for office who does not have the typical background considered qualifications for being President. This is less important than the fact that we have a candidate who does not have the core principles and values upon which this country was founded. Not even close. Therein lies the true danger, in my opinion.

STRENGTH OF CHARACTER

Strength of character is more difficult to perceive, but nevertheless profoundly influences how an individual lives their lives personally and how they lead. Think Lincoln, Nixon, Kennedy, Obama and how their character shaped our future. The US President symbolizes what our country stand for. He/she is the face we show the world. Our world is shrinking and we dare not stray far from our origins if we are to continue to be a world leader.

This election has forced us to face our shadow. We have had to look into the eyes of egoism, hatred, division, anger, despair, frustration, meanness, prejudice, abuse, and self-aggrandizement. It isn’t pretty. We must be careful not to assume that we hold none of these characteristics. We all carry a shadow self, that when buried too far out of sight will jump up and bite us in the butt. Right now, in the national arena, we are experiencing this. As a collective we have been ignoring our shadow. It’s time to take a hard look and choose the light.

shadowWe have the choice.

We tend to believe that we are powerless on the national scale. This is not true. We do have a choice. Every day. Each small choice adds up to the big ones that appear at election time. The way each and every one of us answers this question on a day-to-day basis, results in our collective choices nationally. It’s up to us.

Will we choose fear over open heartedness? Will we choose hate over acceptance and tolerance? Will we choose self-respect and self-esteem over ego gratification? Will we choose generosity and compassion over the need to be in control?

We are being challenged to stand by our principles, to stand by the fundamental values upon which this country was built. This election is not a vote for policy, it’s a vote for decency, respect, equality, kindness, acceptance, tolerance and the fundamental, underlying core values upon which this great country has stood for centuries. Are we willing to let our ideals slip through our fingers and into the hands of fear?

VOTE from your heart, not your fear. VOTE every day in as many ways possible for your highest values. We must walk our talk not only in the way we vote, but the way we live. This is the only way we will keep this country on the path of good.

[tweetthis display_mode=”box”]”We are the engines that give life to those that emerge from the crowds.”  ~ Caroline Myss [/tweetthis]

After I finished writing this post, I read Caroline Myss’ post today. She says what I was trying to say much better. I hope you’ll take a few minutes to read it.

This Election is an Encounter with the Force of Destiny by Caroline Myss