Tag: election

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.

Sign Up for Workshop Info

 


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

Religion, the UnChurched & Politics

Religion, the UnChurched & Politics

Religion
I am sorry to say I cannot determine the artist of this image. I hope one day they come forward.

Religion is a hot button topic, especially with the election antics well under way. Even though it was  decreed long ago that there should exist a separation of church and state, I do not believe that our beliefs can ever be removed from our choices and actions, overt or otherwise.  We don’t have to talk about what we value, or acknowledge it even to ourselves. They show up in everything we do, with or without our permission.

In all arenas, an individual’s spoken beliefs are not what concern me. They can say what they will. It’s how they live, the energy they exude and stir in others, that influences my respect for them or lack thereof. This is true for all of us. I have lived with the destruction of my shadow self, and still do.  I have fallen victim, again and again, to the shadow self of others. This is where the real damage occurs.

[tweetthis]”The un-examined life is not worth living.” Socrates[/tweetthis]

The beliefs and values that lurk in the shadows unannounced and uncontested turn the world upside down. We only need look at what’s happening in the Republican Party to see the damage the shadow self can do to peace and harmony. No. . . religion, organized religion, is not the problem here. It’s not the words spoken, it’s what isn’t said that does the most damage.

RELIGION & THE UNCHURCHED

The church has lost membership steadily over my lifetime. Even back in the late 1970’s when I assisted George Gallup, Jr. in the polling of America regarding their religious beliefs, the decline was obvious.  As a recent seminary graduate, I was personally looking for a path outside of the church to continue my exploration of faith and religion in my own life.  I was eager to ask the questions of others and learn what I could from their experiences.

Gallup’s polling turned up an obvious decline in church attendance across all major denominations and religions in this country. Every poll he conducted indicated that Americans felt as I did. Organized religion was not meeting their needs. And yet, here we are, decades later still clinging to a concept of religion that no longer seems relevant to our modern mindset.

We have a generation of “unchurched” individuals, my children among them, and a vocal minority who shouts at the top of their lungs in a desperate attempt to fan the flames of a dying mindset. The later does not concern me near as much as the former. I do not despair, however, because spirituality is not dead. It’s just in the process of transformation.

People have not lost interest in exploring the mysteries of life, or of the existence of a power greater than themselves. The exploration is simply being undertaken outside of the traditional framework. The growing numbers of individuals delving into these mysteries do not meet on Sunday mornings, or Friday evenings, or face the East in prayer each day, although some do. These people wrestle with, explore, discuss and struggle with the nature of existence and faith throughout their days wherever they are.

Caroline Myss, teacher, author, medical intuitive, refers to those that she knows as “mystics without a monastery”. They read voraciously. They seek mentors, guides, teachers and attend classes, seminars, lectures, workshops on personal and spiritual matters. They meditate, pray, reflect, and practice their faith with every breath they take. They are supported by their “tribe”. . . those individuals who understand their faith journey and are walking a similar path. Unlike mystics of old, the modern-day mystic is not cloistered away from the world. Instead, they struggle to walk between worlds, with one foot in the world and one outside.

These individuals, speak, write, and teach. They love, listen, and care. They tend to  the suffering of their own hearts and souls and the suffering of the world. They attach to no particular dogma. They belong to no particular church or denomination. They follow the Spirit within and pray without ceasing. They pray for deeper understanding and the ability to live a congruent, whole and compassionate life. They worship no one, no thing. They stand open before the universe in communion with all that is.

Yes, religion is dead. The creative energy of something larger than ourselves is very much alive.

Choose the Quality of Your Life

Choose the Quality of Your Life

Hydrangea
“The Truth is that circumstances do not determine the quality of your life; your choices do. Mystical Truth is the nuclear power of your soul. Personal truth is a stepping-stone, but it does not contain nuclear powered grace, so to speak. Why not go for the real thing when you know you have it in you?” Caroline Myss

The subject of “truth” comes up often in politically charged conversations. As candidates enter the race one by one, the pot is stirred, as are emotions. Blanket statements are made and often taken out of context. All rules of debate are thrown out of the window and it becomes acceptable to prove a point with opinion.

We each have our own take on what is true and what is not true, based on our own unique and very personal experience. Our perspective by nature is limited. When it comes to politics, we tend to support candidates whose positions we believe line up with our perceived “truth”, and are let down and sometimes enraged when all points are not congruent with one another. When it comes to politics there is no truth. There is no right or wrong. There’s only opinion. The truth will only be out after the election is over, the race is won and the winner has served his/her time in office. All that precedes it is conjecture, speculation and opinion.

Factual truth, evidentiary truth, is always limited by the very nature of the concrete world in which we live. Mystical truth steps outside of the concrete world and does not bother to take sides in political debates. It knows it is ludicrous to do so. The language spoken is not the same.

The quality of our life is not determined by an election.The quality of our life is based on the choices we make every minute, every day, every hour of our life. What we make manifest in the world today does make a difference. When we manifest political vitriol today we spread ill will and angry energy in the world. Our choices make us who we are. Our choice to be angry and venous today fills our life with anger and venom. It changes us. It does not bring about the positive change we envision.

I broke my own vow, made long ago, to only spread positive, uplifting and compassionate filled messages via social media. There is far too much of the other. I broke it when I became angry with Dell for how they are handling, or shall I say more accurately not handling, my computer’s repairs. I felt my anger at Dell begin to boil. I let off a little steam on Twitter. I justified it in my mind, “I want everyone to know to avoid Dell.” Truthfully I wanted to punish Dell for betraying a loyal customer. These feelings grew as I vented, reminding me of the injustices I experienced with Allstate Insurance, and Blue Cross Blue Shield of NC. The anger grew. I felt conflicted. Isn’t fighting for change important, I argued with myself? When all was said and done I felt drained and I realized I was participating in the much ado about nothing of personal opinion and perspective.

What do I want the quality of my life to be today? That was the more important question I kept asking myself. I do not want my days to be filled with fighting and anger. I’ve done too much of that in the past. I want to focus on things that really matter, like supporting people trying to find their voice, their truth, their lives; to offer hope to those in despair, encouragement to those who fear, and support to those who are alone or suffering.

One need not be angry, or stirred up to speak the truth and keep speaking the truth as one knows it. I resolved to keep speaking the truth as I saw it to Dell and while I waited to focus on the positive quality of my immediate life. I have no room for anger, condescension, combat, name calling. It serves no one. It does not serve the world and it does not serve truth.

Anger builds walls. We tear down walls when we go inside of ourselves and find the voice of truth. Then we hold on to it with everything we have while we go back out into the world and live it. When we can say, “This is what I feel, this is what I see, this is what I hear, what do you see, feel, hear and believe?” Then we can learn from one another, even if we do not agree or see things in the same way, as surely we will not. We can, however, allow them to have their perspective, their truth without relinquishing our own. Honor ourselves, honor and respect them and the real “truth” lies somewhere in between.

Fighting for what we perceive to be the truth need not be done with swords and angry words. Real truth will always cut like a knife through non-truth. On that we can depend.

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