Self-Care in a Politically Charged New Year
Loom and Doom?
With tomorrow’s inauguration looming on the horizon, it’s really easy for people to become weary of the ‘negativity’ in the air, caused by others obvious concern / angst / pain. With social media being such a prevalent ‘in your face’ release of expression and voice, the words that we speak hold a platform of power — even if for a millisecond, or 140 characters. Values and opinions are cast forth for all those who dare read, view and comment. And so begins the volley of expressed emotions often steeped with discontent, brewing with an undercurrent of milky self-interest.
For myself, the political campaign brought with it a spectrum of intensity that was divisive, far-reaching, eclectic and scary at times. Can we agree that it felt like reality TV gone awry? Even if one didn’t want to bear witness, the unfolding was in-your-face everywhere, everyday for nearly two years. It was exhausting as a Canadian to bear witness to the political slash and burn mentality; the demoralizing emotions stirred up within Americans reflected a polarity of beliefs and value systems that seemed to shake the political system to its core. After election day, many just wanted to forget about the political mud-wrestling match and move on with life. Unfortunately for the popular vote, the sludge had dried, and those who emerged from the cracked womb were probably feeling the pains of postpartum depression settling in. Too real for words, actually, and we are only 3 weeks in to 2017!
When I bear witness to the media frenzy extended through the constant drone of ‘news’, blog entries, facebook comments and twitter postings, I find it challenging to experience such constant distress. Peoples’ uncertainty and division continues to be transparently painful, volatile and palpable. Words matter. Emotions and feelings matter. Humans in all their diversity matter.
I believe that countries are not divided or defined by borders; humans of all nationalities belong under one umbrella. It’s my civic duty to make this world a better place, by pledging to be more authentic, accepting, peaceable and compassionate to all, regardless of ones birthplace or heritage. I truly understand how easy it is to finger point in this era of North American political charge. Strong opinions and political anxiety fill my social media feeds … many people have ‘taken sides’, per se. In essence, it’s our democratic right to choose. It’s how President-elect Trump came into being. And yes, I’ve been caught on the sidelines of the political camp with strong opinions, and in fact, I’m still there. I stand behind my values and notions of truth and goodness. But, for me, it’s time to draw in the claws of fear. I know where I stand. Others hold their own values. And that is perfectly ok. That’s what makes us diverse and human. Tolerance and acknowledgement is key. Self-care is so essential for weaving ones way through the messy web of political activism. Because we all want to be seen, heard and have meaning. However, violence, in its many forms is NOT okay. Displayed behaviour, whether its physical, emotional or mental, with the intent to hurt or damage another, is not acceptable. Accountability for inappropriate actions is vital.
When I read remarks such as: “get over it”, “accept the new normal”, “be one with Trump” and “be more positive”, my mind instantly jumps to the notion of my inner-core urgency to come together in our differences and heal as a society. What I’m most curious about is the question behind how can we become more empowered in this era of disempowerment and disengagement, especially in the face of violence, propaganda, homophobia, media frenzy, fake vs real news, political uncertainty and power struggle? With such widespread suffering, it’s challenging to think about what one can do, to think outside the box of comfort while keeping peace in ones heart as we move forward, one positive step at a time.
I applaud those people who come forward with peaceful ways to address divisive issues and feelings within the community. For example, the initiative behind the #MakeItAwkward campaign put forth by Jesse and Julia Lipscombe is a vital rally for social justice. 100%, I’m standing behind their important efforts “to start difficult conversations and engage in honest dialogue about racism, prejudice and hate”. Thriving in a world of alarm, concern and political charge
begins with Self-Care.
Self-care at its finest
Healing, as I know it, is a complicated process that often depends upon a greater supportive and inclusive community. But ultimately, the healing journey begins with self-care. There is great truth behind the fact that suffering is a self-imposed personal choice. To overcome the hurdles associated with any resultant feelings of fear, anxiety, disconnection and/or helplessness, its important to acknowledge ones own personal choices and culpability with emotions that arise. Sarah Schulman states it so eloquently in her book Conflict Is Not Abuse: Overstating Harm, Community Responsibility, and the Duty of Repair: “Sometimes, when we are hurt, our selves are so fragile and it is so hard to keep it together, that any request to rethink our assumptions feels like an “attack.”” And then all of a sudden, the mode of self-care becomes self-preservation. Dealing with change is never an easy task when there are external battling forces that go against ones values and beliefs. And that’s why, I suppose, they call it a journey.
With this premise of self-care and healing being my mantra for 2017, I am standing behind my resolution to take power back, by way of exemplifying what’s good in the world. How you may question? By being more compassionate, respectful, loving, understanding and connected to those who feel pain, anxiousness, hatred from others, marginalization and discrimination. My role as a community volunteer is huge in keeping me on track. A greater perspective on life is tremendously grounding. Many people are certainly tired of the political rants, the lobbying and volleying of threats and opinions (think Twitter and Trump). As am I. It’s truly time to shift from a stance bathed in volatile emotions for a political system I personally have no vote or control in, and be the voice of change in my community where action speaks volumes, and all lives matter!
A New Year brings the opportunity to say yes to delving deeper into the things we can control in our lives. Who cares to join me in this march forward, committing to a campaign of self-care? Let’s start 2017 off right with steps forward to peace and ease, self-driven with care and love, beginning with ourselves. I’ll begin to write blog entries that focus on self-care in this ever-changing environment.
What are your visions and concepts of self-care in this political climate?
P.S. Please feel free to offer comments and suggestions on self-care articles that you’d like to see me explore more, and I’ll proffer what I can, with a yogi twist in mind :).