People are feeling traumatised by the US election, and not just in the US. It is unclear what the newly elected government will do; and the uncertainty doesn’t help deal with the trauma.
What to do?
My last post is on dealing with the feelings. In summary, feel the feelings and then do the first thing you can, however small.
I think people of all political persuasions are feeling that there are long-term problems and that the solutions are going to take a while to implement too.
Think Globally, Act Locally
Some of you may be as old as me (it’s possible some are even older); if so you may remember the slogan, “think globally, act locally”. I think it packs a lot of wisdom into few words.
And it needs updating. The global thinking has been done. We know there is enough for all to thrive. We know how to live sustainably on our planet. And the local action is happening too. There are many tiny groups in local areas, and some with international organisation too.
So the title of this post is my updating of, ‘think globally, act locally’. There are three parts: think deeply, feel deeply, and act now.
Let’s start with the feelings. This is usually what happens first for us – the feelings come up, we are alerted to something going on, and then we think about the what and why.
Feeling deeply begins with feeling what we’re feeling. At first not judging the feelings, or acknowledging the judgements of them. It may turn out that the feelings aren’t realistic or flat out wrong – but to move through them, you need to feel them. Feelings aren’t thoughts, they aren’t rational and they’re not meant to be. (And you aren’t meant to act automatically on them any more than on your thoughts – which might also be unrealistic and flat out wrong.)
Feeling deeply may then mean moving to deeper feelings (though they may not be as intense. They may be more or less intense than the immediate feelings.). It may be that under outrage lies vulnerability; under fear lies indignation or outrage; under cynicism lies disenchantment. You won’t know whether there are deeper feelings until you listen to the immediate ones.
This will take time and if you can get support this will help. If you have people who can listen, this will make it easier. It may help to be able to speak to people who share your feelings – if you can listen to each other. It won’t if the feelings are avoided and it is a ‘shared judgement circle’.
Gradually you can come to a sense of what your deepest values are.
What’s the problem? And how do we fix it?
During emergencies people often deal with the situation with efficiency and grace. And the shock sets in a little after the emergency is over. With bigger less immediate things, it is harder.
When we are traumatised it is easy to react. But this probably won’t be what is needed long-term. To make things better will likely mean having a sense of a better way to do things.
When we’re traumatised we usually aren’t thinking much about the why’s and wherefore’s. And there will usually come a point when we need to do this.
There comes a point where we ask, “What’s the problem here?” And the answer then shapes the action we take. It may be that you wish to address immediate concerns or longer term ones (we live in the short and long term, both are important).
It may turn out that there is more than one problem. Or that the problem has more than one facet.
My ideas (from observing what is going on in my own country – Australia).
The ways we think about ourselves, the world, and how they relate, needs to change.
- Our default setting seems to command and control – and we need to have a place for receptivity.
- We presume that we are isolated and not dependent – actually we are embodied beings, dependent on the natural world and related to and affected by other people.
- Places of extraordinary natural beauty, like the Great Barrier Reef, are being trashed for the short term profit of corporations.
- Our neighbourhoods are designed around cars – they need to be designed around children and pedestrians.
This is just a sample, from my experience of my situation, there are lots more details. What you find in your situation will likely be very different.
Wait a bit. Then look for what doesn’t fit.
We all tend to believe our ideas are right. Take a look around and see if your ideas make sense of your experience. When you are pretty sure your ideas are sound, start looking for stuff that doesn’t fit. It is very likely there will be something.
It may turn out that the offer stuff isn’t relevant, or that you don’t need to bother with it. Another possibility is you end up with one of those embarrassing, “Oh [expletive]!” moments. Perhaps followed by, “Why didn’t I see that? I’m a [insert judgement of choice]”- if you’re like me. (In which case the consolation is that you have probably avoided worse and more public embarrassment later. And you have some material to work on for self-acceptance.)
Gradually you arrive at the sense that you are clear enough to understand what is going on. And that you have a sense of what you want to do about it. (Or at least a sense of where to look for some options. Or relevant questions. Or what you want to talk about with others.)
When we have a strong feeling we can’t express, or see an important problem we can’t address, we feel bad.
So do something. It won’t fix everything right now. If, for now, it only makes a difference to you, that is enough. And it will probably help you to have energy to do the next thing.
If there is a choice, do the easiest and most enjoyable thing. Being hard on yourself is unlikely to help anyone else.
And then do the next thing. You may want a strategy, or you may want to do the nearest thing, or you may want to try out things and then think about developing a strategy. It may help you to give yourself a deadline – to look back at what you’ve done (and if you have a strategy to critique – Edward de Bono’s “PMI” (plus, minus, interesting) is a simple and useful framework for evaluation.
Long-term, significant change will likely involve others. And there are better and worse ways to work together. There needs to be a place for people’s thoughts and feelings, and diverse gifts, and different levels of energy and commitment. And there is a great deal of wisdom on how to do this; in books, trainings, and often in people nearby. With some work it is possible to maintain an atmosphere of joy and hospitality most of the time.
There is Much to be Done
And there is no shortage of things to do. And there is no shortage of places to start. And we can support each other while we do it.
As always, any and all comments are very welcome.