So I created this mini roadmap for myself (and for those of us) in need of some support right now.
1. Feel our feelings without bypassing them:
Anger, fear and sadness are here. These are uncomfortable feelings, but for many of us, these are perfectly normal responses to the situation at hand. This is an opportunity to ride the waves of our feelings using breath—big deep breaths.
And notice the compulsion to bypass our feelings by jumping a little too quickly into optimism, superficial hope or even thoughts of escape to Canada. The mind is tricky and will find ways to dissociate from such uncomfortable feelings.
Grief, anger and fear are totally natural responses—the key is to allow these waves, yet not get stuck in them. We shouldn’t let our emotions drive the car, but we shouldn’t stick them in the trunk either.
2. Watch for misdirected anger and aggression:
Fear, grief, shock and sadness are uncomfortable emotions, and we can feel extraordinarily vulnerable when these emotions arise. We feel much more powerful when we channel these vulnerable emotions into anger, or even aggression.
Notice the compulsion to attack or blame each other—a clever way to experience temporary reprieve from the vulnerability in our hurt right now.
3. Cultivate healthy anger:
True anger is actually a healthy thing. True anger is an internal response to a “no”--a boundary being crossed or violated. What we do with our anger makes all the difference. Do we morph it into aggression (which can become violent words or actions and dehumanizes others) or do we turn it into constructive action?
4. Transform depression into action:
Depression (the everyday kind) is undigested emotions. Depression sets in when we feel overwhelmed and under-resourced to cope with the emotions or situation at hand, thus collapsing in on ourselves. Instead of collapsing in when these feelings arise, what is one healthy action step we can take?
It might be as simple as going on a walk, making some art, or calling a friend. Or it might be as big as creating a community gathering to support one another, starting a movement, or protesting in the streets.
5. Choose love and empathy:
Our country elected a president who does not seem to have the capacity for true empathy. My sense is that life is inviting all of us to take a powerful, warrior-like and fiercely loving stand for the qualities we most value in the human heart—love, empathy, acceptance, vulnerability and kindness.
The question I am asking myself is this: “What can I do each day to create more of these qualities in the world?”