Moving Beyond Electoral Trauma

After the 2008 election, I was so despondent over the results I that I caused an accident by turning left into an oncoming car ‘I didn’t see’ in my post-election-trauma fog. At the time, I was the 3rd Vice Chairman of the Republican Party of Wisconsin reporting to Trump’s chief of staff Reince Priebus [Wisconsin Party Chairman at the time] and I thought the election results were the end of my world.

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In hindsight, I see that the growth and development that it caused in my life was some of the most important self work I’ve ever done. I feel the very real pain of my friends who have similar feelings over the election of Donald Trump but I’m telling you from my experience that the sun will still rise over Lake Michigan and you too will survive if you take the time to do some important self work. I offer these thoughts from Psychology Today author James Gordon M.D. as a starting point:

We’ve had a year of angry, clamorous, mean-spirited, often incoherent campaigning, increasing polarization, and now a rude electoral shock for Clinton’s supporters and a surprising vindication for Trump’s.

For the last few weeks, I’ve been listening to and working with large numbers of people of all potential persuasions—in Indiana, Louisiana, California, back here in DC, and with friends and patients on the phone. I’m frequently recognizing the symptoms of posttraumatic stress: anxiety and anger, difficulty focusing and sleeping, threatening dreams, and, often enough, emotional numbness and withdrawal from friends and families– uneasiness about the present and worries about the future.

When my Center for Mind-Body Medicine colleagues and I work with traumatized populations, or individuals, as we have for the last 20 years, we want to begin as early as possible: during rather than after wars, while the rubble is still being cleared after an earthquake or flood, just when the chemotherapy for cancer is beginning. That’s the time to most effectively address the biological, psychological, and social damage that trauma does: to reduce anxiety and agitation, relax bodies tensed against danger, help people gain perspective on what has happened and may happen, and move beyond feelings of powerlessness and despair. In published studies, our model of self-care and group support, whose basics I’m sharing here, has lowered symptoms of posttraumatic stress by 80%.

We also, and importantly, do our best to turn these crises into opportunities for self reflection. The losses and dangers traumatized people experience often make them more aware and appreciative of what really matters most to them.

An election is, of course, not a war, an earthquake, or a life threatening disease. Still, some of the approaches we’ve successfully used feel relevant now. They can help us regain the psychological and physical balance disturbed by this ugly political combat, and its unsettling aftermath, perhaps bring us together to forge a post-electoral future that will feel less contentious and more compassionate.

I’ll share three ways of being, acts of doing that can help us be more fully ourselves, and act more creatively and effectively in the days and months ahead– one in each of three blog posts.

Go to the source for more: Moving Beyond Electoral Trauma | Psychology Today

This is such an important topic, I’ve linked to each of the three blog posts for your convenience here:

At the end of the day, my experience has taught me that our peace of mind has less to do with the results of the election than the meaning we attach to it and what we do with that meaning.

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