This is what I hear most often from my friends who are not political: “Jan, I’m freaking out. What is happening?”
I admit I have no idea how this will play out exactly. I assume that many Americans will continue to disapprove of the President’s impulse-ridden job performance and the radical factions will become increasingly isolated. But I remember believing America would never even nominate the current President, so I have come to understand that these are very unpredictable times. What we all do over the next months will make the difference.
So, how to not freak out is the question. Do you ignore what is going on or do you freak out and take action?
Taking action is imperative, but freaking out is not. There is a way to feel the emotions called up by the very quickly changing landscape, pay attention to the response without judgment, and then take action from a steady state.
I’m not talking about pushing the emotions aside and going numb. That just never works. We feel what we feel and it is best to let the emotions wash through you without callousing over. If you turn away from the reality of what is happening you are in denial and you are not a part of the solution. And, your community and your country needs you.
Think about this. The work that will be required of us as we organize to protect the vulnerable among us will be very demanding. If we don’t feel the fear, the anger, the hurt, we won’t have sufficient motivation to put in the work that will be needed. This is going to be hard. We need to feel discomfort or we won’t strive for the change that will be needed.
However, if we let the strong emotions push us around we can become shrill, stubborn, and offensive. Instead of going numb, letting strong feelings constantly be in charge will cause us to burn out.
We can simply be present in the moment, sit and witness the emotions come up and, without judgment or fear, accept what is real here and now. We can consciously choose to take action based on compassion for the people who are potentially in danger, and consciously not focus on the anger for the perpetrators.
People in danger need our help. The perpetrators should not be getting the limelight. Don’t give them the airtime in your head or in your movement. Be vigilant about the destructive actions, pass on the ego trips and the personalities.
The practice, the practice of mindfulness, the practice of meditation can get us steady as we consistently shift our focus to the present moment to do the next right thing. Our outward actions might seem exactly the same as someone who has their emotions twisted by the personalities in charge. The difference will be that over time we will be able to sustain our work. We won’t callous over or go numb. We won’t burn out. We will stay steady inside.
There is hard work ahead. You’re going to feel how imperative it is to stand up and fight for what you believe your country should be. You are also going to have to be able to be in it for the long haul. This is going to be a marathon not a sprint, a marathon that will be run on sand that will shift and change with virtually every step. Take care of yourself with gentleness so you can be nimble and effective in the fight.